I work for a sign shop in the center of a major city. Our shop’s profits come from the printing, production, and installation of signs. Designs move signs, so it’s in our best interest to deliver effective designs with first-time approvals so they’re printed and produced as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, some customers want hundreds of dollars worth of design time for free. To combat this, I have a strict four-proof policy, adding a $15 charge for each additional proof. One particular customer, having used their last complimentary proof, got creative and gave me a call.
Client: Before we move forward, I was wondering if you tell me the sizing of some of the words.
Me: Alright no problem, I can do that.
Client: What’s the sizing of [company name]?
Me: That comes out to X by Y
Client: Awesome, awesome, umm, what size does it come out to if we reduce the tagline to this size and increase [company name]’s Y to this size?
Me: After shrinking your tagline and increasing [company name]’s X to this size, the Y is this size.
Client: Alright, that doesn’t sound too bad, uhhh, let’s try…
She proceeds to drown me in different graphic sizing variations. At this point, I realized what she was doing: Having me make live changes. It was good, pretty clever, and it had me going, but, I can’t waste my time figuring out what a customer doesn’t want.
Me: Those are all very doable changes, but, I’m going to need you to send me the different variations you’d like to see to our company email, so I can have a point of reference for your next proof.
Client: W-what? Can you just make the changes over the phone? We don’t need to see another proof, we can hash this out now.
Me: I apologize ma'am, but, it’s company policy to only receive changes via email, and you have quite a few changes.
It’s not really company policy, but, it’s my policy, it’s outlined in every proof email and my boss supports it.
Client: Uhhh, okaaaaay, I’ll get going on that email.
Me: Thank you, we’ll keep an eye out for the email.
Later on, the client tried to circumvent the proofing policy by trying to talk to the other designer, and by contacting a different CSR to try to create another order so the proof count would “reset.” Sadly, the designer was eager to prove themselves the “superior” designer and the CSR was commission-hungry.
The simple and small sign’s design process was dragged out over four days, the designer and CSR lost more time than money, and I revelled in every minute of it.
Morals of the story: 1) A client that knows what they want is a client that knows what they don’t want. If a client doesn’t know what they want, they also don’t know what they don’t want. 2) There’s always someone who’ll put in more time for less money