I imagine the workflow of a job will go like this:
- Customer contacts me, describes what they want, perhaps sends pictures.
- I discuss the project with the customer: needs & wants, budget, materials, finish, hardware, timelines, etc.
- I sit down a design the project in SketchUp, create an initial cutlist, and price things like hinges, knobs, and other hardware.
- I then write the project up, with the sketch and the estimate, into a document.
- The customer signs the document, provides half the payment, and I begin work.
- Upon delivery the customer pays the rest, signs that everything was delivered as promised.
It’s interesting to note that I am only billing the customer for step 5. If the customer doesn’t sign on the dotted line, I’m out my design time.
There are some things i need to figure out here though:
- What should I do if my estimate is way too low?
- What should I do when it’s difficult to get the customer to pay?
- What should this document look like from a structure perspective, and what should the content be to make it legally binding without being too unfriendly?
- How do I incorporate customer visits and design change requests during the build (between steps 5 & 6)?
- What should the relationship with the customer be post-delivery: warranty, follow-up, etc.?
Potential customers: I’d love to know what you think of this process and how I can make it great for you.
Woodworking buddies: I’d also love to know your opinions on how to make this work from a business perspective. If you have sample documents that you’re willing to share, email them to me.