Since the art of conversation seems to be slowly dying and replaced by the art of email, it’s inevitable that you’ll get a whole lot of quote requests that way. Here are a few handy tips for sending a quote via email and how to deal with those especially annoying emails:
- If you get that feeling from their initial contact that money is a major decision making factor for them, please don’t spend your whole night writing out a detailed quote. Do not reply with paint swatches and hand drawn, painted in watercolor sketches and complex breakdowns all the way to the final sprinkle. This conversation will just go back and forth into eternity. Your website should have a price guideline but some people don’t both to read it, so in this case – reply with a basic pricing structure only. You can do this either a one page brochure which lists prices, servings, and some example designs, OR you can reply with this: “I’d love to make a cake for your celebration. A creation like the one you described is in the price range of $X – $Y and you can choose from blah blah flavours. If you’d like to go further with this order, please contact me on 123-4567.”
- If you send a quote (basic or detailed) and they don’t reply to you immediately – don’t panic and think, “Man I KNEW that was too expensive for them,” and then beat yourself up about it. Accept that sometimes people just don’t reply to emails immediately (even though their request for a quote was URGENT, right?). Also accept right now that you’ll just be out of some people’s budgets and hey, that’s cool. There are things I ask for quotes on that I then realise I can’t afford. Totally no big deal.
- Make it EASY to order from you. If you’ve gotten to the stage that they want to order, that’s great…now don’t make it impossible for them to do so. They should not need to call you between 12-12:15 pm , in a full moon, on the Wednesday after the night before the day after next Friday while they are wearing their pink gumboots. Nor should they need to sign a form in triplicate in front of a Notary. PLEASE just make it easy for people to PAY YOU and encourage them to do so as soon as you know they are going to order. Streamline this process as much as possible. They want to order? Great. Call them and get a credit card over the phone (I prefer this), or email back with ONE LINE: “To confirm this order please pay $X by X date via X method,” or “Click here to place your order.” Seriously if YOU are sick of the forty five emails, chances are so are they. It’s a cake. Not a rocket ship.
- Once you send a quote it is no longer your problem. If you have enough time and are so inclined, you can check back with them a couple of days later. Personally I only ever followed up if it was an order I really wanted to do – otherwise I had better things to do with my time. You’re going to send a ton of quotes that get no replies. It’s no big deal. You probably didn’t reply to your electrician’s last quote either.
- If they keep changing the quote again…and again…and again and each time it’s getting cheaper and cheaper and cheaper so that the 6 tier wedding cake has now turned into 6 cupcakes, you’ve let the conversation go WAY too far. At this point there is very little you can do about the situation because the time is already lost. Next time it starts to feel like they are going to be a problem child, or the quoting will grow longer than Dumbledore’s beard, STOP the conversation with either a phone call to confirm details and take a deposit or a firm but polite end to it by creating a sense of urgency.”I’m afraid we are running out of time to get this order confirmed, so I will be needing a final answer from you by X date and a deposit of $X by X date. Orders are filling for that weekend and I don’t want you to be disappointed if we leave it too late and I can’t fit you in.” Basically you’ve got to give them a firm reason for either going ahead or going away.
Email quotes suck up vast quantities of our time – not just in all the reading and responding but also in the emotional turmoil we go through. Did they like our quote? What if it was too high? Maybe it was too cheap. She didn’t reply yet. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. WHY DIDN’T SHE REPLY?! and so on and so forth. I get it, we’re human and those reactions are normal – but time management isn’t always about YOUR time, it’s also about theirs. The above tips are designed to help you get the job done, keep it simple, and get the job.