Why We Say No to Design Changes

Posted by Sheree Burlington on Jul 10th 2015

Years ago, Museware Pottery offered custom work and said yes to every request. It added weeks to our lead time, bogged us down and wiped out any hope of turning a profit. When we realized that the road to ruin was paved with good intentions, we got smart. Learned that we couldn't be all things to all people. That saying no was not only good business, it was essential to our survival. 

In an effort to define what we do, we added the following statement to our literature and website: "Museware Pottery is designed and priced to include your personal information in a specific area, on a predetermined design layout. Changes to design layouts are not available."  We don't say no to be difficult. We say it because saying yes is both time consuming and expensive. 

Museware is a small group of three women - four in the summer. My place is behind the scenes, designing, marketing and planning the next Big Thing. The Women paint, glaze, fire, pack and ship every piece. Together they hand paint thousands of personalized gifts each year. They are hardworking and loyal and I am honored to have them in my life.

Nicole runs the show and is involved in every aspect of Museware, including customer service. She's the voice behind every call and is the one who has to say no to your requests for changes. Since she sincerely wants to make you happy, saying no is not her favorite thing.

This production table shot shows a typical wedding season day. Cursive orders start with Nicole - hers is the handwriting on every cursive piece. Simple orders go directly to production - with capable hands stamping every image. Like designs are painted as a group - this scroll is placed in the same place on each piece - all the way down the line. There is a routine and cadence to our process that is organized, efficient and cost effective.

Saying yes slows us down more than you can imagine. Designs with changes are red-tagged and pulled from the group. They are dealt with separately and take our attention off of production. Red tags are the most likely to contain mistakes - resulting in remakes. Our $15 modification charge may help offset some costs, but it can't buy back time lost on production - the most expensive component of our offering. Lost time and mistakes take a toll on our bottom line and negatively affects pricing.

We understand that you ask for changes on behalf of your customer. That they're often standing next to you when you pick up the phone. We also understand that saying no feels awkward - we don't enjoy it either. However difficult, saying no has enabled us to reduce our lead time from a over a month to 14 days. To produce more work with fewer people. To take weekends off. Have a life. Afford a mortgage. It's the best business decision we've ever made.

We're also aware that Museware's pricing is upscale. Since a price ceiling exists somewhere, the best way for us to control your wholesale price is by keeping a close eye on our costs. Please help us by selling Museware Pottery only as designed - personalized and without custom requests. 

Thank you - we appreciate your efforts. 

Sheree & The Women