Customer Discounts ?

Many professional machine quilters give discounts to their customers. These discounts are usually about 10 – 20%, sometimes more, and can be for a variety of reasons – new customer discount, returning customer discount, sunny day discount, rainy day discount, showing up at the door discount, etc.

Personally, I don’t give discounts. I feel that you loose way too any $$ with discounts. Let’s run some numbers.

Example – Queen Size Quilt, moderate density quilting, it doesn’t matter if the quilting is free hand, pantograph or computerized.

 If you charge $250 for this quilt, with a 10% discount ($25) your charge (to the customer) would be$225, with a 15% discount ($37.50) your charge is $212.50, with a 20% discount ($50) your charge would be $200.

If you charge $300 for this quilt, with a 10% discount ($30) your charge would be $270, with a 15% discount ($45) your charge is $256, with a 20% discount ($60) your charge would be $240

Note: If you would charge a different amount, your numbers would be different.

No matter what discount you give to your customer, it still takes you the same amount of time to complete the quilting. If you calculate your cost per hour for quilting – the time it takes you to complete a quilt divided by the cost of the quilting only = cost per hour. (We will discuss “cost per hour” in an upcoming post.)

Again, some numbers – The Queen Size quilt in our example above took 6 hours to complete.

At full price of $250 divided by 6 (hours) = $41.66 per hour. For the discounted prices, $225 divided by 6 = $37.50 ph, $212.50 divided by 6 = $35.41 ph and $200 divided by 6 =$33.33 ph.

At full price of $300 divided by 6 (hours) = $50 per hour. For the discounted prices, $270 divided by 6 = $45 ph, $256 divided by 6 = $42.66 ph and $240 divided by 6 =$40 ph.

Note: NO operating expenses or self employment taxes have been taken out of the cost per hour amount.

You can see that the amount of $$ you are making per hour decreases significantly with each discount given.

Before we go any further, I want you to think about your customers. I would be willing to bet that most of your customers do not come to you ONLY because you offer a discount. Your customers come to you because they like your style of quilting, the quality of your quilting, your personality, your lifestyle, etc. Price usually isn’t at the top of their list when looking for a machine quilter.

OK, I do know that there are some people where price is the ONLY thing they look for in a quilter. Fortunately, these people are mostly few and far between and YOU get to choose if you want to work with them. Personally, if someone comes to me and wants me to quilt “cheap”, I just tell them – nicely – that I don’t do cheap quilting and it may be better for them to take their quilt someplace else. And yes, I have had to do this a few times in my machine quilting career.

So, if price is NOT the only reason your customer is coming to you, and if you routinely give them discounts, why? You may want to re-think your motivation behind your discount philosophy.

But, you want to give your customer an incentive to return to you, or you want to reward them in some way. I suggest that you offer them FREE BATTING.

I know, you are saying, wait a minute Cindy! You don’t give discounts, but you give free batting? Yes, I do! And here is why –

Batting is tangible. Your customer KNOWS what batting is and knows what the approximate retail cost of batting. Free batting also saves your customer time by not having to stop by the quilt shop and they may be able to bring their quilt to you more quickly.

Best of all, by offering the batting FREE, your customer knows they are getting a great deal.

Note: Batting should be a separate charge and not included in the price of the quilting labor.

Here is the best part for you, the machine quilter. Free batting will cost you less than most discounts!

You need to purchase your batting wholesale or at a discount. A Warm & Natural Queen Size batting, pre-cut, wholesale is $16.30 (Price at EE Schenck, Portland, OR, May 2014.) The suggested retail price would be $32.95 +/- Prices will vary for other battings and sizes or if purchased/sold by the yard.

For a $16 (+/-) investment, you don’t loose any $$ on the quilting labor that you would charge to your customer. This means that there is more $$ in YOUR pocket!

I look forward to your comments

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About Cindy Roth
Mother of 3, Grandmother of 11 and quilting forever!

8 Responses to Customer Discounts ?

  1. Pingback: Spring is Here!! | Machine Quilting Business

  2. Nadine says:

    Cindy=Thank you for this post! I know I don’t give discounts AT ALL,. In the past I have offered free batting, and at times I still do. Times have been and in some cases still tough for me here in the Columbia gorge. Yes, I did use some of the ideas you gave me last year during the quilt judging class (for got the show but the one in Tacoma), And you know what they worked. So thank you very, very much,.

  3. Nancy says:

    I give my very best customers (30 or more quilts done by me) a $10 gift card to our local quilt shop at Christmas. It’s a great way to say thank you and benefits the quilt shop that refers customers to me.

  4. H Davis says:

    Yes Cindy, you’re right. Regardless of how much you’re getting for a quilt it doesn’t cost you any less to produce it, so any discount is money out of your pocket.

    We have been merciless on discounts – virtually none. Not even discounted batting as Cindy suggests. We do, however, try to give unsolicited freebies that implant in the customer’s mind that we’re nice people and not trying to gouge them for every last nickle.

    We sell batting off the roll to customers that want it. That leaves us with a lot of remnants. They’re narrow but fine for place mats, runners and sometimes a small baby quilt. If we have it and the customer didn’t supply their own batting we use a remnant and don’t charge for it. We make sure to note it as a separate item on the sales slip so the customer notice it.

    We use a binding method that requires 2 colors of fabric. New customers who are unfamiliar with our requirements often don’t supply the second color. We call them and explain that they need a second color but we can probably find something in our stash if they want to save the trouble of running to the store and getting it to us. Most take us up on the offer and we don’t charge for the fabric; probably around 1/4 yd.

    We get a huge fraction of our business through the local quilt shop. We also do their store samples. Nope, they don’t get a discount either. But what they do get is almost instant turn around. They’re last minute folks (we love them anyway) so we usually get the sample near their deadline. If it went into our usual queue it would be late so we move it to the top of the queue. The store gets something they value (on time samples) and we get our normal rate.

    We have a few other things that we manage to supply for free but they’re free to us and they build good will. Even little things that build good will are worth doing and if you think outside the box you can find things that won’t cost you anything.

    This topic relates back to one of Cindy’s earlier articles about getting paid enough to cover ALL your expenses. If you’re getting a good price for your labors and you feel that your business is on track you don’t mind doing these little things that ingratiate the customer to you. You’re already being well paid and throwing in some free batting remnants or fabric from your stash, that cost you nothing, isn’t a loss of income.

    If on the other hand you always feel underpaid you’ll feel resentful and be looking for every way to extract an extra nickle from your customers and they will see it. That’s not how you want to be perceived.

    Charge a fair price for good work and don’t sweat the small stuff.

  5. Ginny Hildreth says:

    I agree compeletely! Once a year I put an ad in out local quilt show program. It costs me $80 to advertise in over 2,000 programs. I offer free batting (up to 95″ X 95″) in one quilt. (I do have to explain in my ad that is is for quilts quilted by ME) because if you can believe it I have had on more that one occasion people come in and ask for their free batting! One was a fellow LAer!
    The savings are better than offering a % off and I will tell you what I get a lot of new business from that ad. Some I never see again, but many of my longtime customers are from my show special. Btw. I make sure that my ad has an experiation date too. They have 3 months after the show to bring me quilts.

  6. Dar in MO says:

    Cindy, I like the way you think.! Thanks for the insight and tips.

  7. Pat Barry says:

    Hey Cindy – Another great explanation. Thanks for all you do for the quilting community.

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