by Brigette Mashile, founder of Roka Roko
It’s the height of any fashion season right now. Whether you are a designer, seamstress, wholesaler, model, photographer or PR person in fashion, you are busy from August till January. And all your ‘please order in July for September’ advice has fallen on deaf ears. You are managing those who listened and risk managing those who didn’t. No matter how many no’s you can say, someone always convinces you to ‘pretty please help’; most of the time you help because it is someone you like and want to dress….again.
So, late clients are there. Every year Its like I don’t learn. And each year I preach order early from January till I am blue in the face; and still. On a random Tuesday you receive a call or message about a dress for a wedding on Saturday! And you just become powerless because, did we not know we are going to this wedding? Ayi! Here is a list of characteristics of a late buyer; I have seen these regularly over the few years I have been making clothes:
They always call
Many times, one call after the other. They wont email or message because they need your attention now! The first instinct is don’t answer! However, they will call you continuously until you pick up the phone. Then they will employ their inside kind of voice, that softening, needy, damsel in distress voice. The phone call will be long, because they are attempting to get you to make this dress in 3 days.
Their first question is ‘How long does it take to…’
Every-single-time! When I hear this question I know the dress is an emergency. Also here, don’t answer this question! It is the peak of business, 2 week lead-times become 4 week lead-times! If you answer, you will give your normal answer and only God will help you then. A late order always comes with a lot of risk management questions from the client. Be alert.
They will be on your back
Like that fast fried chicken advert I love….living on your shoulder. They will micro- mini-milli manage you; constantly. This is because they are late and know it. This is frustrating because working under such pressure is so distracting. You will start building anxiety and start doubting yourself because of all the ‘how far’ questions. Again, don’t answer; rather say ‘ Please trust me, we will have your dress done on time’.
Most are willing to pay in full
They will pay you in full from the get go, even if you specify that you only need 50% deposit. It’s a trap. Don’t fall in. Concentrate on completing the dress, and spend the profit after the job. I always tell my clients that this is just coal on my head. I do my best to ignore it and finish first. This client will arrive with a budget, and it will be a good one, and pay it while standing in front of you. At least this is a plus!
This will become a trend
No lies. Your client who arrived late for the first consultation, will arrive late for most of her consultations. The client that ordered 2 weeks before, will do this forever. You will have to decide how you manage this situation. Some are great clients and really come back a lot. So, you need to decide if you try to make them come earlier or just set up your operations in such a way that they never pose a risk to the business when they come.
Late orders are risky
This is because they force you to give them your immediate attention, stealing from the current orders which were done on time. You cannot escape this. You will either have to work late, or outsource or bring in extra help to complete the work. So, while you are making this exciting new order, remember to not delay on the other orders you already have.
I have said that someone will have to start a business that solely services late people. Literally, a business that can make you a stunning dress in a day, to your measurements. This poses a fabric, texture, colour, style, time challenge all around. It is a totally massive project to collate all resources in time and complete an order in 3 days. But, we have them yearly and somehow, survive.
Brigette Mashile is the founder and creative force behind Roka Roko, a custom fashion design business based in Johannesburg, South Africa. The company passionately delivers quality tailored and trendy fashion to make their customers happy, and specializes in styling women by creating unusual combinations with fabric, culture and style. Brigette has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Witwatersrand and a Fashion Diploma from Studio5 School of Fashion. She’s a former fashion buyer for a major retailer in South Africa, and an international direct selling company. She’s been passionate about fashion since the age of 10 and gained invaluable experience in the fashion world running informal fashion creation businesses until the day her own Roka Roko brand was born. Find out more by visiting the Roka Roko website www.rokaroko.co.za
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