How To Handle a Leather Sale When You Least Expect It
Recently I was on a train coming back from a trip in upstate PA with family. I love those weekends because all I really need to pack is a small overnight back and my weekend leather backpack. So i’m sitting on this train and i’m working on a separate embroidery project that I had brought with me to pass the time and someone asks if they can sit next to me.
Without looking up I say, “sure” and move my stuff off the seat.
I keep working and doing my thing and the guy says to me, “hey what are you working on?”
So we strike up a conversation and I tell him that i’m working on this embroidery project for a friend but I’m also a leatherworker.
He asks me for a card and as we’re talking i’m starting to put away the project that I was working on into my leather travel backpack. And so i’m showing him my leather travel backpack and saying, this is one of mine.
He loves it and says, “wow you made that? It’s beautiful. What does that cost - a couple hundred bucks?”
And thinking fast, I said, “yes, $500”.
To which he said, “Can I have it?”
I was caught off guard and kinda laughed when he said this, thinking to myself, you want to buy this bag right off my back?
And before I could fumble with a weird awkward answer about why I couldn’t give him this actual bag, he rephrased the question and said, “Would you make me one? My wife would love it and it’d make a great Christmas present.”
And thats how you make $500 on an Amtrak train.
No, actually lets pick this grand story apart a bit. There were a few key pieces to making this sale go through.
1. HAVE BUSINESS CARDS FOR YOUR LEATHERWORK
They don’t have to be fancy, they really just need to say your website because anyone can find your contact info once they get to your site right?
mine have my name, email, website and instgram handle on them.
Bonus: Keep your business cards in a wallet that you made. It’s a great way to continue to illustrate your work without having to be so obvious or salesy.
2. KNOW YOUR PRODUCT COSTS AND NUMBERS
Had I not already run the numbers on this leather backpack this whole situation could have been very bad.
I would have had no idea what to charge for it and would probably have given him a very lowball price.
Even though this is not a standard model that I have on my website, I had a pretty good idea of what my material and labor costs where and where my break even point was.
I ended up giving him a nice little discount, but you know what, for someone to buy right then and there something that i’ve been wanting to put up on my site it was totally worth it. This was going to be the motivation that I needed to do it.
3. GET A DEPOSIT TO SECURE THE ORDER
Now in all honesty, I did not get a deposit. He offered, and again I felt weird and put on the spot about taking money from him on the train without any invoice or paperwork. In hindsight, I should have taken the money and sent him a quick email from my phone.
That’s probably how I would handle that next time.
I’s say something like, “Whats your email? Let me send you a quick note detailing the bag, description, terms and deposit that is required now, and when the rest is due.
4. GIVE A REASONABLE LEADTIME
I was glad that I knew upfront that he didn’t need the bag until shortly before Christmas, so I knew I had a good 2 months to produce it.
My knee jerk reaction was to say, I can have it to you next week just because I didn’t want to miss out on a sale. But then I thought of all of the holiday markets that i’m currently preparing for and how my production schedule is pretty full at the moment.
So I told him 4 weeks, which too me is quite a long time, I usually shoot for a 6-10 day turn around time. But since I knew he was in no rush, I gave myself a more reasonable lengthy leadtime so that I could fit it in to my schedule.
So know your current product schedule and workload, and don’t feel like you have to kill yourself to and pull and all nighter to make it happen. If the customer really wants it, they’ll be willing to wait for it.
And bonus, if you can get it to them sooner then 4 weeks (which I definitely will) they’ll be super happy, rather then telling them it’s going to be late. Don’t over extend yourself.
Overall, just be prepared, that at any point you could run into your target customer and they might just fall in love with you and your products right then and there on the spot.
So carry business cards in a pretty wallet that you’ve made, know your numbers on everything that you make, get a deposit and know what your production time frame is like, because you never know what could happen on an Amtrak train.
If you want to learn more about selling your leathergoods and how you can do what you love and get paid to do it, then click below. Learn the business strategies that you need in order to get started and increase your leathergoods sales month after month.