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Turning away Business/Texture restore tips

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  • Turning away Business/Texture restore tips

    How would ,or do you, handle the rather unpleasant task of turning away work? Everyone has their comfort level with what they will or will not do and if it has not already occured in your experience it will...the day a potential customer comes in and wants you to do a job which you feel, for whatever reason, is not something you want to either attempt or feel comfortable in doing. How can you refuse without loosing future work from this client? Tom

  • #2
    Honestly I don't know. But I'm interested to read what others would do.


    • #3
      In situations like that I usually wait til occurs and play it by ear. Each situation will be unique so it's hard to say "This is what I would do". Also, people are vastly different and what I might feel comfortable saying to one, I might not say to another. Or at the very least I might have to find a different way of saying it. I need to be in the situation to really know how to react.

      Sorry, I know that's not much of an answer.


      • #4
        How about a specific instance? Turning away work is hard..but living with the consequences can be even tougher....For the folks just starting out the temptation to " push the line" can be very real unless they have some guidance in how to skillfully "duck out"...not that you "Duck out"...Oh H*** just shot myself in the foot again....Tom


        • #5
          Well, if it's against the law, you can use that as a valid excuse to turn it down. The fact that it could hurt your business reputation is another good reason to cite. The customer can hardly fault you for looking out for your own morals, business ethics etc.


          • #6
            I've turned away work. "Sorry, but I don't do that kind of thing" works for me. Of course, I work via email, so that provides me a buffer that working in person can't provide (one reason I still work that way).

            I've turned away work because I felt they were up to something illegal. Once I turned down a job because the subject matter turned my stomach. Unrelated to this, I recently turned down a job where a woman wanted me to retouch her "sexy nudes".

            On a more techical side of things, I've turned down work where the original was enormous and I'd spend more time stitching than restoring. One I turned down because they said it was "wet", after 100 years.

            I'm just too darn picky, which is probably why I'm still poor

            Oh, and when I can't think of a reason to turn it down, I simply double my quotation. Works every time
            Learn by teaching
            Take responsibility for learning


            • #7
              Just an idea. I don't do many restorations, which is to say I do none. But if I did, and I came across one that I found harder than usual, I would say something like this.

              "This job is harder than usual. Why don't you let me go ahead and scan it and retouch it and then I will let you look at the results on my monitors. If you don't like what you see, then just pay me for the scan."

              I would then scan the image, post it on Retouch Pro to see if anyone could help me, and pay them half of whatever the retouching charge would be. If no one could help, and I still thought I just didn't want to mess with it then I would call the customer back and tell them that I was not able to make any progress. And I would make sure to give them a referal of another retoucher. That way, if the retoucher you gave the referal to had a job that they could not do some thime in the future, perhapse they would refer the job back to me.


              • #8
                I have a very straightforward policy on 'work to be turned away'

                I devide it into categories, and deal with it based into which category it falls

                1) It is illegal (for whatever reason) I simply say no, and tell them it is illegal (some people really don't know!). Depending on how 'bad' they are they might even get reported to whatever authority is applicable.

                2) I don't feel like doing it because it is stupid/boring/uninteresting: I simply charge double the amount I normally would. Then, if they say yes anyway, it is enough motivation to do a good job anyway, and use the 'extra' to treat myself to something nice (Global knives, DVD's, a speeding ticket..., paint, whatever...)

                3) I simply can't do it , either because I don't have the technical or artistic ability to do it and still deliver work I could vouch for... I politely decline, explain them why (And don't forget to tell them what you CAN do!)and try to recommend them to a collegue. 2 benefits:
                1) The customer appreciates your honesty and will certainly come back to you if he has something which suits you better.
                2) Your collegue likes you and may return the favor some day.


                • #9
                  I've been asked to repair a photo, not duplicate and repair digitally but actually repair a cut in a photo. I've never attempted this and am hesitant to accept the job. I haven't seen the photo and have no idea of it's age or the amout of damage.
                  I tried telling the potential customer that I don't work on originals and that they would need somebody with a different set of skills to repair the cuts. But she said she would be happy for me to try something. I'm not comfortable with that and tried to find a way out without offending her. But I finally agreed to look at the photo (yet to come).
                  The problem is that I have to work with her in the Cricket club(I'm the treasurer and she's the club's tax consultant) and need to be on good tearms with her.
                  Any suggestions?


                  • #10
                    Perhaps she will just forget about it....If you are not that lucky,however, you might just say to her that the photo requires special handling as working on originals more properly falls into the relm of the Conservator...then suggest one ( look in phone book.. on net etc...). If she still insists just say its beyond your skills...Honesty is the best way to go. I have told people the same thing on more than one occasion, and while disappointed, they did appreciate the honesty and went somewhere which I breathed a large sigh of relief.....The same folks have also brought in other work since, so I dont think it hurt my business...Tom


                    • #11
                      I just had one along those lines, but I didn't really know it. My daughter brought an old photo for me to restore. It belonged to a friend of hers, and I never talked to the owner of the photo until the restoration was done. After finishing the restoration, and while talking to him on the phone, I realized that he thought I would repair the original, which of course, I'm not qualified to do. When he saw the restoration, he was very pleased. But I learned to never do a restoration without talking to the owner first. If I had known what he originally wanted, I would have refused to do the work because I'm not qualified. Even if I were able to make the original look good, I probably wouldn't know the best materials or techniques to use on the job. Using the wrong materials can actually make the image degrade very quickly, and I wouldn't want that to happen. So I guess my suggestion would be to tell her that you value your friendship, and you wouldn't want to jeopardize it by taking on a job you're not qualified for. She shouldn't be offended by that. Let us know how it turns out.



                      • #12
                        You're right Ed. It's amazing how many people think that you are going to restore the original. That's usually the first thing I point out to potential customers. Then if they still want the original done I tell them to seek out a Conservator.

                        I recently went to an elderly womans house to check out an album she had of her son's Barmitzvah as a restoration job. Wow, this thing was so bad. It was a solid book with the photos printed on both sides of thick board pages. It reminded me of those Chubby books you get for toddlers. It had been stored away and had gotten wet so the entire center of the book was rotting away. I could've repaired most of it but the work involved was astronomical. When I told her just the 14 worst ones would be about $700 she almost flipped and that was 14 out of about 50 total all needing some work but most needing a major over haul. She told me the album didn't cost more than $40. I tried to explain what I would have to do to clean up that mess but I think the price really scared her. I'm glad in a way. It may have been more than I could chew. I did tell her to see a conservator because the fungus on it would continue to eat away what was left of the album and there may be a way to stop it. To take on that job myself, I couldn't see me doing it for less than $1000. I've never seen anything that bad. I had to wash my hands after touching it.
                        Last edited by DJ Dubovsky; 08-30-2002, 09:23 PM.


                        • #13
                          I just tell folks what I CAN do with their photo, and let them decide if they want me to proceed. Not all photos can be restored to the owner's wish, and to be upfront about that is not going to upset anyone or cause you to lose business.

                          If it's just something you aren't interested in doing, and isn't very hard, why not just do it anyway? Probably won't take that long, and you might end up with referrals from a satisfied customer.



                          • #14
                            From this discussion, it sounds like it might be a good idea to seek out a business relationship with a conservator in your area so that you can recommend someone when the situation calls for it. I too am not qualified to work on original photos. But, I would be happy to help a customer find a good conservator to work with. The first time it might take me some time (that I wouldn't charge for), but after that, the relationship would already be made and referrals would be easy. That way, I'll have helped a customer get what they want, so perhaps they'll think of me again in the future for the work that I CAN do.



                            • #15
                              I think a lot of people have touched on the two points I want to make.

                              Communication - Find out what they really want and explain what you really can achieve. Find a solution to the problem together to achieve an end result that is realistic, will make the customer happy and meets their expectations (or altered expectations).

                              I prefer to meet with the client in person so I can see the piece and talk with them about it for this reason.

                              Honesty - Tell them what you really can do for the piece and don't be afraid to let them know what you're limitations are and what you are not willing to do (be it for legal, personal or whatever). Make it matter of fact without room for's just the way it is. Most people will accept your policies if you state them and don't waiver.

                              Being asked to restore originals when your expertise is digital work is a good time to be honest and say no and why you can't/shouldn't try it. I do both (Master of Art Conservation - Queen's University) and there are still many restorations on original pieces that I'm not willing to do or I know there isn't currently a known/successful or stable treatment for. These jobs are truly something that should be dealt with by an expert. Conservators learn chemistry, material stability and material history as well as have training in treatment techniques and experience dealing with deteriorated and damaged objects. They also can tell the person how to safely store and duplicate a damaged original so it is not further damaged or destroyed. In the wrong hands a valued piece can be destroyed in an attempt to repair it. Do not be afraid to say no.

                              Just another two cents!



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