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How to run business out of my home...

Discussion in 'Newbie Forum' started by MariaMartini, May 28, 2008.

  1. MariaMartini

    MariaMartini Active Member

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    As many of you know, I got into the sign business working at Fedex Kinkos, and I have now decided to do this on my own.

    I know I have gotten myself into something big... and I have a lot to figure out...

    Obviously at Kinkos, the customers generally came in and placed their orders, and paid for them when they picked them up.

    I will be running my business out of my home, so, should I usually schedule a consultation at the customers business or just deal with them primarily over the phone? I realize I should get a payment, or atleast a deposit upfront... how do you go about doing that if you don't meet with them in person? Yes I could get CC info over the phone, but I have heard bad info about that too... that they can deny the charges if they weren't actually there...

    Also, when getting a payment upfront, do customers ever worry your just going to take their money and run?

    I have already planned to do free delivery in the metro area. What else am I missing?

    Those of you who also run your business out of your home, and you give me a quick run through?

    Thanks soo much!
     
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  2. Cadmn

    Cadmn Very Active Member

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    I set up office in one side of my garage & meet clients there. 1 get business license 2 be sure you can run business from your residence if in city
    Go For It
    Kinda hard to take/steal anyones cash if they know where ya live
     
  3. TheSnowman

    TheSnowman Major Contributor

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    I'm not sure how much out of your "home" your doing it. We did it out of a separate shop on our property for 25 years. It worked out ok, but I really like having a store front now after about 5 months of having it. I have a lot of customers that will order over the phone, but I also have a TON of people that would rather stop by and talk rather than email or fax info.

    You'll get to know your clients, and feel them out...but unless you have a bunch of people like you, your probably going to have to deal w/ people wanting to talk to you in person, just like @ Kinko's. As far as payment, if you don't want to have to meet face to face too often, your deff. gonna wanna go w/ a C.C. machine. There's no big deal about it, I don't know what the bad is you've heard, other than you get the fees, but for me, it's nothing but good so far. That's just my $.02.

    Oh yea, we do deliver a lot of stuff. We're smack in the middle of town, so most people have no problems picking it up, but just seals the deal, and puts a cherry on top if we deliver it sometimes. I'd like it if someone would do it for me, and I'm really just all about makin' the customers happy, so...do what ya can't...but yea, w/ gas, don't go too nuts. Oh yea, it's only about 4 miles all the way from one end of town to the other too.
     
  4. cgsigns_jamie

    cgsigns_jamie Very Active Member

    For small signs and graphics I do about 60% of my orders via email. That's my favorite way to deal with the customer because I don't delete any emails so I always have a paper trail. The other 30% are phone orders and the last 10% manage to find my shop and walk in. I don't usually meet customers at their business, that's why we have a sales staff, but I think it's important to meet with the client face to face to get a feel of what they are trying to accomplish.

    As for credit cards we have a credit card authorization form that we fax the customer and they have to fill and and most importantly sign. If you use QuickBooks I see now that you can accept credit cards via the internet, I'm sure there is a fee as Intuit always has to make some money but it's my understanding that the rates are comparable to the terminal machine we have. That free delivery is nice, I don't usually deliver anything unless it's a really good customer or they are right down the street. We have a local courier service and I get the customer quotes to have their signs delivered to them. It's usually about $15 but lately with gas that price seems to keep climbing. Most just come in and pickup.
     
  5. MariaMartini

    MariaMartini Active Member

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    Thanks for the response! I will likely do that.. I'm not sure about all the business/residence rules in my city, I'll have to read up on that. I live in the middle of a subdivision somewhat out of town, so I don't know if people will want to come to my home office anyway, but I'll keep it as an option.
     
  6. MariaMartini

    MariaMartini Active Member

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    Thanks for the $.02 :p

    I will be doing everything out of my garage.. well except the computer will be in my office inside the house...

    I haven't looked into CC much, because I was hoping I could get by for awhile doing checks, but I figured eventually I would need to go to CC. What about paypal?

    Thanks again!
     
  7. MariaMartini

    MariaMartini Active Member

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    Yeah, I like email orders too.

    The credit card authorization thing sounds like a good idea, and quickbooks also sounds interesting. I know the bank I use for the business account offers CC processing too, but haven't looked into the cost yet.

    As far as the delivery goes, I hope that works out for me... I may need to look into a courier service as well, with the gas prices.

    Anyway, I'm rambling, thats for the input!
     
  8. Velocity

    Velocity Member

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    Save the emails and place disclaimers on your proofs with watermarks. We clearly state that email approval will be considered a valid signature. Percentage up front is pretty standard in this industry. Let your quality and customer service speak for you and your customers wont even notice the down payment. know your materials and have your pricing ready to go.
     
  9. MariaMartini

    MariaMartini Active Member

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    Great, important info. Thanks. I also need to get my pricing down... what's everyone use for pricing?
     
  10. Rollie

    Rollie Very Active Member

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    Mostly email for me. I have customers come to my shop/garage from time to time but I tell them I prefer to meet them at their place of business. I am currently setting up a separate design/sales office in the back of the house which is about 15' from my production area (garage). I've had shops and employees (off and on)for over 20 years and I have downsized and simplified my life in the last couple years and I love it. My wife how works with me full time and our throughput is way better than with employees. I subcontract installations when I don't have time.
    Don't take credit cards because they have a minimum here and I rarely use it... cheques and cash.
     
  11. cgsigns_jamie

    cgsigns_jamie Very Active Member

    I just purchased a copy of GraphixCalc Pro (See banner at bottom of page) and so far a like it. I used to have a wall full of tables and charts and the trusty sign craft price book but now I just type in some quick info and presto I have a price.
     
  12. MariaMartini

    MariaMartini Active Member

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    Sounds like how I would like things to work! Except hopefully in a few years I'll have a store, but maybe I'll decide that's overrated.

    Do you deliver most of your work to the customers? Do you have a website?

    Thanks!
     
  13. MariaMartini

    MariaMartini Active Member

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    That sounds like the way to go. Thanks!
     
  14. Rollie

    Rollie Very Active Member

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    Yes, we deliver about 60-80% of the time. I found this hard to do when I had a regular shop downtown during times when things were too slow for emplyees.

    Started from home in 1984 then worked from shops till last year. Love it.. don't know why I ever left it. Of course my values have changes along the way. I value family and friends over profits.

    No website. Word of mouth mostly.
     
  15. MariaMartini

    MariaMartini Active Member

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    My values are the same. Hopefully that doesn't hurt me starting out. One main reason for me doing this though, is so that my son can stay home and not go to daycare while I go work somewhere else.

    That's great your business has been around so long! Keep up the great work!
     
  16. 511graphix

    511graphix Active Member

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    50% down or all up front.. but alway befor the work is done and their leaving happy.. you better be happy to with the whole payment. you'll learn that you have to make some pay all up front. I have a couple. that I dont do a thing until I have all their money in my bank before I start. but they also know I am good to my word and when I say it done, its done. one of my larger jobs. they paid 50% down and then two payment after that. when the last peace of vinyl was layed down last payment was in my hand. dont get suckered into give me a break on this or give mea good deal. and i ll get you lots of business. you'll never see the return. Now when I hear that I just tell them, that their not the first to tell me that. sorry it not you, but I've been down that road before. and they dont say anymore. so stand your ground on prices. O good luck. I am in a home/garage setting myself.
     
  17. MariaMartini

    MariaMartini Active Member

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    Yeah, in my life I have let people walk all over me. I need to build up some guts so I can just say how it is when I need to. Thanks for the input!

    How long you been in the business?
     
  18. OldPaint

    OldPaint Major Contributor

    NO SIGNS...no license, soon as ya do that then you bring all the people WANTING YOURE MONEY!!!
    TAKE CASH....as much as possible.... tell people youll DELIVER THE WORK TO THEM....you get a call for some work..GO TO THEM and when you settle on a prive GET A DEPOSIT.....no deposit/no work.....this will save you from dealin with a whole nother set of bullcrap..UNTILL YOU GOT SOME CLENTEL......then do all the other things......
     
  19. weaselboogie

    weaselboogie Very Active Member

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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but are you hinting around about tax evasion?
     
  20. premiercolour

    premiercolour Sales and services from S. California

    hi.

    Doing business in garage will save a lot of time, gas money to work and office rental expenses. You already have saved more than 50% of office expense vs competitors.

    1. rent a mail box at any UPS/ Fedex store. There, you dont disclose your physical address to people that you dont know. Monthly fee is about $30.

    2. you must have credit card processor. I use paypal merchant. Easy to use. Even you entered wrong account holder name or address. As long as credit number matches security code and zip code, it will go through. You can process on any internet available area. You dont need to bring that littel station with you at all time. fee is about 3.5% charge depends on your revenue, Monthly fee $40. Very fast money transfer between paypal and linked bank.

    3. Read Signs101 periodically.

    4. Road to success

    Francis
     
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