1) The customer doesn’t care how the job is done.
In a fast-paced environment the customer is the boss. In a performance review, my boss told me that while I work for him he works for the customers as the owner of the shop. If the job isn’t done right, the customer will go elsewhere.
Which means that all rules they taught you in school get thrown out the window. Sometimes if the customer is well respected, you do everything it takes to get it done right. Because if you do they’ll return.
2) Quality over Quantity.
It’s better to have returning customers ordering in larger quantities than many one-time customers just ordering smaller quantities.
3) Quotes Done Right
If a customer requests a quote, this is a good sign. Make sure you gather all the information necessary and include all steps of the process in the quote from the beginning to the end. Make sure you ask if the job is a rush job because additional charges may apply and it will guarantee customer approval if the customer and the shop both understand the deadline and it is reversed, make sure the customer understand that problems do occur and you’ll do your best to get the job done. Request a deadline even if the customer doesn’t have an opinion on one.
Don’t be afraid to follow-up. Sure, you may come off as a pushy sales-person but if you don’t, you may never get the project moving forward and then the money won’t come through. If the customer has trouble committing to the project perhaps ask what their budget is. You may know of options to make the project fit their budget – take shortcuts if you need to.
5) Time is Money.
The Press shop I worked at allowed 2 weeks for the maximum amount of time for projects to be completed. Most customers wanted their business cards yesterday. Which goes back to the first point of this post; customers don’t care how the job is done. If you have to cut corners to get the job done that is OK. If an employee at the shop screws up the job, the shop will need to find time to redo it.
6) Prioritize + Workflow
Look for specific pieces of information on the work ticket. It helps to get certain projects done. At the end of a busy day I looked at my document count from Indesign and had 20 documents created throughout the day. Yes, you’ll be doing many and multiple projects at once. Some people can handle this environment some people can’t. And your plan for the day will be interrupted by your boss, other employees and customers. If your workflow becomes interrupted make a mental note of where you left off so when you return you can get right on track. Have a plan for the day. See what deadline are closest to you, what projects are just given to you, and other projects that may be more important. Write them down – I kept a sketch book of work lists and plans for the day and week. It helped me visualize what needed to be done and I can be sure to mark something off and then move onto the next project.
7) Mistakes + Typos will be the death of you
May not necessarily apply to other businesses, but if you work in a press shop, mistakes and typos will be the death of you. It really hurt my position as I wasn’t as quick of a thinker as my boss wanted me to be… but if your shop makes a typo in a name, or piece of information than honor the mistake. Sometimes a discount is offered, most often a complete redo is needed.
8) Be polite
If you make a mistake, apologize and tell them that it’ll be resolved as soon as possible. Say your pleases and thank yous. Do not demand information, request items or information. Don’t be afraid of your personality – sometimes customers are sold on your product based on how well you handle their demands. One time working at the Tremont Tearoom, I had to deal with a Groupon fiasco and a friend within the group that came chose me because of my patience and sweetness in dealing with the situation. Stay grounded while dealing with difficult customers. Make note of exactly what went wrong and get help when you need it.
9) Don’t get Emotionally Involved
This is one of the hardest lessons to learn and I’m still learning it. It’s especially hard to learn if you are putting your whole heart into your work. Labor of Love isn’t the only thing you should be careful of, anger as well needs to be controlled. If you are getting angry over simple errors or problems in the shop, perhaps it’s time to sit back and look at the bigger picture and see why you are getting angry in the first place. People react differently to anger, a lot of people get anxiety from anger. Maybe hire more people so there will be less work on yourself and the other employees which will result in less mistakes… or if you are putting you’re whole heart into what you’re doing perhaps find another outlet you love to do. Anger directed at the wrong person can result in a law suit. Love expressed in the workplace can get you in trouble as well.
10) Know your Boundaries
Be careful who you trust. Be verbal about your boundaries; in the very beginning I told my boss it was OK to call me if extra help is needed but do so in a respectful manner. If you are going through a difficult time perhaps a letter to your boss is necessary. In my case, I did this and I was OK letting him know, but because his wife worked with him he had to show her as well which I was not comfortable with. In the end it created a triangle between me and him and him and her and I think affected the outcome of my position as well. In the end he really appreciated me letting him know, but it created issues in the future. Since jobs change all the time, try to demonstrate some privacy on your part as well. These people are your co-workers, not friends or family even though they may act like it.