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  • Credit requests?

    I need some input on a potential problem area namely, the customer, who in the words of the immortal friend of Popeye, Whimpy, will "gladly pay you Tuesday for a burger today". Do you have those folks fill out a credit application or just go on the hope they will pay or take the " IN GOD WE TRUST,ALL OTHERS PAY CASH" line? Thanks in advance. Tom

  • #2
    Good question Tom. If the customer places any real value on the image, you might do okay if you have them sign something indicating that they will pay as agreed. Then you could keep everything (including the original) until it is paid in full. That would probably prevent any problem from arising. What do you think?

    Ed

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    • #3
      Ed, Thanks for the input. I have thus far avoided this problem but as I know it will arise I am trying to get a handle on it. I was leaning towards some sort of credit app. or promisary note as here in Montana if you dont have something in writing you are out of luck. With something in writing you can go to the Justice of the Peace and at least get a ruling ordering the customer to pay you as well as other legal skulduggery type stuff (visiting the hardware store for a rope purchase and inviting the debitor to a special midnight meeting of the UP LIFT society is sorta frowned on any more-- unless you start stealing cows). I really dont like credit but your suggestion about keeping the finished work until payment is made seems like a good compromise. Thanks, Tom

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      • #4
        Hi Tom,

        I've done quite a bit of web design work, and the standard in the industry is to never-ever do anything without having a contract that both you and the customer sign. A lot of people think that this would scare away customers but I've found that most of the time it puts people at ease--because it shows that you are serious about what you do.

        It's also pretty standard to charge 50% up front and then the remaining 50% upon completion of the job. By asking for a certain amount up-front (like Ed said) you are weeding out the folks who may "change their minds" later. Even if they end up not paying the rest you have at least gotten paid something for your time. And I never post a completed site online unless the customer has paid in full. That tends to give them the kick in the pants they need.

        HTH

        Amanda

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        • #5
          Akj, A big THANKS. I think the idea of charging half "up front" and the rest upon delivery is an excellent option. I wonder if it would be a good idea to offer the customer a couple of "options" such as the 50% now or 100% upon completion with no finished work leaving until payment is received? Like I said, up to now I have told all potential customers that full payment is required upon completion, but I know that sooner or later the credit monster is going to appear. I like your suggestions. What do you include in your contract? I use work orders but they are far from a formal type contract document. As far as scaring away customers- if they are that spooky, there's something not right and I would just as soon not have to deal with that type--I'd rather go play with a Grizzly and her cubs !!! Thanks, Tom

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          • #6
            Amanda had a good suggestion. When we had the home improvement business, we got 1/2 up front, with the remainder to be paid on completion. Of course we had a signed contract, and it worked out very well for us. But I don't think there would be anything at all wrong with getting 1/2 down, and you keep everything until paid in full either.

            Ed

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            • #7
              Hi Tom,

              Contracts can be pages and pages long but I prefer to make things as simple as possible. Photo restoration differs somewhat in regards to web design, but some elements I might include if I made a contract for restoration work would be:


              Payment Terms--Client pays however much now and however much upon completion. Methods of payment accepted, etc.

              Completion Date--When you plan on having the job complete.

              Re-Assignment of Project--If for whatever reason you can't complete the job you'll hire a subcontractor to finish it for you.

              Liability--You remind your client that you can't be held liable for any "problems" that may arise.

              Additional Services--If the client changes their mind about something and the result is more work on your part--you can charge them extra for it.

              Of course this is only a simple sample of what a contract could include but probably is enough to make anyone's head spin. Of course if you do decide to have a contract it's best to have it looked over by a lawyer or someone with similiar knowledge.

              Amanda

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              • #8
                I agree that a one page contract should be enough. The one thing I might disagree on is the liability portion. This would be enough to scare away some customers who are already hesitant about leaving their treasured print in your hands, and with reasonable care on your part, damaging a print would be very unlikely. IMHO, it would be better to have a seperate liability page for use when there is work to be done that might be of concern to you, yourself. Seperating a stuck print from glass might be one example of that. Even though that is not usually a problem, it does have the potential for one. Just my opinion, which often times is not worth much.

                Ed

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                • #9
                  Hi Ed,

                  Your point is well taken--the majority of my experience is with web design. The subject of liability in that field is not quite as hairy as that involved with photo restoration (at least most of the time)

                  Amanda

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                  • #10
                    Akj and Ed, again thank you both for the input!! Akj, The outline for a contract looks like just what I need. With some Fleshing out it will work nicely. I think that the old "liability" monster is a necessary part of the whole scheme of things though. I guess by careful wording it could be made perhaps less intimadating to those hesitant to have a stranger handling an irreplacable photo. I encountered one instance where an older individual wanted to have a restore done but was totally unwilling to let it out of their sight. I suggested to this persons daughter that since the reluctance was completely understandable, why not bring the Parent and the photo and I'd scan while the parent observed my every move. This worked beautifully! The parent saw how carefully the treasured photo was handled( I only handle Photos, negatives etc. while wearing white cotten gloves. NO EXCEPTIONS), Loved getting an archival sleeve to store the print and as a consiquence has had two more done by the same method. I dont feel that allowing and even encouraging certain folks to watch the scanning process and explaining it as it progresses is a bad thing. It sure can help build confidence in customers. Just some rambling thoughts--- Thanks again, Tom

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                    • #11
                      Tom,

                      I think that educating the customer certainly makes the jitters ease. If someone did question the liability issue, you could always show them how it is done, just as you referred to in your last post.

                      Instead of calling it "liability" (a rather scary word), you could also call it something like "our responsibilities". Then you could outline the limits of your liability.

                      Ed

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                      • #12
                        Amanda - Loved the outline for the contract. Gave me things to ponder. I think I will implement the 1/2 down half on completion when I get pricer jobs where the loss of money is more damaging if they default. Thanks for the input.

                        Tom- I would love to be able to scan with them there but I can't seem to function with people looking over my shoulder. Don't know how you do it. Where did you get your gloves? Are they a special kind? Sounds like a good idea I might try.

                        DJ

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                        • #13
                          Dj, I get my gloves and archival storage stuff from LIGHT IMPRESSIONS, an outfit which sells all kinds of those types of goodies. Great place to do business with. I think they have a web site or perhaps Doug has more contact info. My Wife organizes all the catalogues and as she is out right now I cant find a darn thing. Actually that is good as it keeps me from ordering things and getting in general trouble. Still a kid at heart I guess. Everyone has to find the level of customer interaction they are comfortable with and I dont think there is really a right or wrong amount- just what you feel OK with. I wont do actual Restore work with anyone watching as my Train of Thought tends to derail, making me look like a bigger idiot than I really am!!! Tom

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                          • #14
                            Ed, Thats a good thought. I wonder though,It seems that the folks who are either spooky,unsure or unreasonably demanding are the ones who have the most potential to cause trouble. I almost think that spelling out the exact conditions of liability might be a real protection by scaring them away. Once someone decides to get work done not much tends to deter them. Just a wandering thought---Whats your take on it? Tom

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                            • #15
                              Light Impressions is indeed a fine resource. Just so everyone knows, I've joined their referral program so RetouchPRO gets 5% of any sales generated via a link from this site. There's a link to them also on the 'resources' page. If you bookmark it, even if you buy from them a year from now we'll still be able to apply the commission towards improving RetouchPRO.
                              Learn by teaching
                              Take responsibility for learning

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