The Business of Longarm Quilting — Accepting Quilts

The-Business-of-Longarm-Quilting

HIIII!!! I’m so excited about this series. I am having fun & you guys seem to be enjoying it! I’ve even pulled out my university textbooks a couple times, so I finally have a reason to have kept them! Woot woot.

Also, if you have any questions about any “business of longarm quilting,” how I run my business, or topics you’d like me to address, please leave them in the comments, or email me (kathleen(at)kathleenquilts.com)

So today, accepting quilts!

These are my nightmares when it comes to accepting quilts.

  • quilting quilts that I hate
  • having someone hate my quilting

Not a lot of nightmares I guess. I thought the list would be longer.

Anyways…

I’ll start with my intake form

Long Arm Quilting Agreement -Default

You can find a PDF copy of it HERE.

So, some things to think about when accepting quilts. 

  • Be sure to address what is expected from both parties
    • what size does the backing & batting need to be?
    • are you going to trim the quilt after quilting?
    • are you able to post pictures of the quilt on social media or use them in your advertising?
    • what is the expected timeline on quilting (How long is your wait time?)
  • What type of quilts do you accept?
    • Anything and everything?
    • Only a certain style (traditonal only, modern only, etc.)
    • What type of quilting do you do? Only panto’s and all overs, only custom/heirloom?
  • Do customers get a say in the quilting? In the thread colours you use?
  • Do you use matching threads in your top and bottom? Can the customer choose to have different threads in the top and bottom?
  • What happens when a customer is unhappy with your quilting?
  • Do you have a booking fee or deposit on quilting?

Be sure to address all these questions BEFORE you begin quilting or booking a quilt. When everyone knows what the expectations are, everyone stays happier. Trust me! It’s way easier to make it clear that this is the way you quilt, and for the customer to express any concerns before quilting when everyone is happy and exciting, then later when the customer is mad that their quilt isn’t exactly the way they pictured it.

How I Handle Accepting Quilts (this week)

I won’t lie, my process has changed about 4 times over the past year. But at the moment, I’m pretty happy with how what I’m doing right now is working. So here it is.

  1. A client emails me asking if I would be able to quilt for them. They USUALLY also ask about pricing and timeline.
  2. I send them my pre-booking information, and and estimation of when my next available quilting slot is. I mention that if they would like to continue the process, I need a picture of the quilt, or at least a description of the quilt, as well as the size of the quilt. I also tell them I require a $50 deposit to hold their spot should they book with me. And that the $50 deposit is not refundable for any reason.
  3. They email back saying, yes, they want me to quilt. (or they don’t). I prepare the contract (as shown above.) I make almost all quilting decisions. My clients don’t get much say over what I quilt.  In every case, I am not the easiest person to book. Even locally, I work in the same business as my mom, and it is way easier to get her to quilt for you. So if you have gone out of your way to ask me to quilt for you, it’s because you like how I quilt. If you didn’t, you’d ask someone else. So I make decisions. Same thread colour, top and bottom, always, no exceptions. Only custom, and only heavy custom / heirloom. I prefer modern quilts, but I’ll quilt anything.
  4. I email a paypal invoice to have the deposit paid. I will usually hold the spot for a couple days, but after that if someone else pays first, the spot is theirs.
  5. As my waiting list is several months, I don’t have the client send their quilt immediately. Rather, 1-2 months before their quilting is scheduled, I email them asking them to send the quilt.

So far, the biggest problems I’ve run into are (a) clients cancelling their spot and (b) not having their quilts ready. Which is mainly a problem as I schedule each quilt for 2 weeks of quilting. So I can tell my customers exactly when their quilt will be quilted. Which means when someone cancelled I now have an open space where I am not quilting for anyone, and not making an income from quilting. Which, granted, sometimes gives me a nice vacation, but most of the time is really annoying. And when a quilt arrives late, it means I have to work extra hard to get it finished in it’s time slot to get the next quilt quilted. And I don’t really want to work hard. I give each quilt 2 weeks, because I know I don’t have to work too hard to get a quilt done in that time. And I have another job, so I don’t like to work super hard at home ALL the time.

Anyways, that’s my spiel for the week! How do you handle accepting quilts? What do you do differently from me? Can’t wait to hear!

Later days!
Kathleen.

The Business of Longarm Quilting is Sponsored By

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16 responses to “The Business of Longarm Quilting — Accepting Quilts

  1. Oh man, i am SO HAPPY you are detailing this, especially noting you have another job. I work full time and am trying to ramp up a quilting business and explore what I can do (just quilting? custom quilts? patterns? small items) to eventually replace the job I have now.

    So I’m still figuring things out myself.

    Right now, I am doing pretty well at making custom tshirt quilts for members of the field I am in, but it;s not something I can live off of yet.

  2. If you get quilts late, could you charge customers a fee for rushing it? Just a thought. I think that’s fair!

    I’m not a longarmer but this is really an interesting series. Thanks!

  3. I never thought of charging for a spot…makes “total” sense. I just had two clients email me saying due to “insert excuse” here that they wouldn’t be needing my services. Granted I’m not that booked up because I’ve not allowed myself to be due to moving, homeschooling, and having a baby. I just don’t have the “extra” time right now.

    But it got me thinking, just “if” I was BOOKED up, that’s time I could had been quilting for someone else or could have said “yes” to someone else too.

    Thanks its something for me to consider. 🙂

  4. I am loving this series!! Wow, even though I quilt for others, I’m gonna have to send all my quilts to you – your prices are really inexpensive!!! My E2E price is $0.015/sq. inch!! Hmmm, I have about 50 waiting to be quilted, shall I send them all before Christmas?? LOL!! Can you address when you have quoted a price and the customer ups the custom quilting (and the price), you tell them the price is going up and they say fine, until they get the bill!!? How do you charge for partial bobbins?

    • I think she is the opposite…she charges .10-.12/in. Not .010-.012! Lol! Plus a set fee and a bobbin fee! It’s Canada and everything costs more there so they can charge more.

  5. How do you handle the opposite of cancellations. The rush order quilts for customers who want it done right away and are willing to pay double? What does that do to your two week scheduling?

    Would you please explain what you mean by a Paypal invoice? Is that something you’ve set up through your Paypal account or just allows them to use Paypal to pay.

  6. I am really enjoying hearing about your process and what works for you. It definitely has given me confidence to know what to do and expect should I ever start quilting for others! Thank you!

  7. How do you handle customers who add blocks to their quilt backs, which then have to be centered, etc. I’ve had several like this lately and they can be a pain! Thinking I should have an additional charge for that…

  8. I was just grumbling yesterday that I must change my method of scheduling once again! I try to only schedule 1 big custom each month with faster, allover or basic custom for the remainder of the month. Or at least schedule 1 week for those types of quilts. I’ve been booked for months but my big customs for November and now December did not meet their targeted date…and everything is mixed up! $50 doesn’t work out to the lost income. Not sure what I can do for the future other than say I don’t work them into the schedule until I receive them. There is no way to work in or rush that level of custom when they finally finish their projects. It’s a really big problem.

  9. Hi, I am enjoying this as well. I think because there are SO many LA’ers in the US many if us struggle with charging what we are worth and scheduling is something I am always improving on but not the best at. Please address like others have previously asked about those willing to pay a rush fee. I do it all the time but it can affect my schedule if I am tight and I hate that! I will admit that I worry about losing people if I have to tell them no.😕

  10. I take credit cards using Square Up which is very easy and fast using my smart phone or tablet. Credit card processing fees are .0275%. I have been absorbing the fee as part of doing business. I believe it is illegal to increase the price if credit card is used. Any suggestions on how to handle the processing fee?

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