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#1 gypsy

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 11:02 AM

I own a pottery shop and my big problem is I give so much away that its ridiculous. Someone likes a pot so much I always sell it to them for less than I want. I can't stop myself.....I think I can always make another so whats the harm? The harm is I am not making money....maybe I don't value my work enough....can anyone help me from doing this? I just want customers to be happy and come back.

#2 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 11:40 AM

Mea, the moderator for the Business section, has a good business head. Maybe she can give you some advice. Go look through some of her older posts. She kept a journal on keeping track of your costs. That should give you some insights into what you need to be paying yourself and how much time is taken up doing all the things needed to run a business. Chris Campbell also gives great workshops at NCECA on business operations. Check out her website.
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#3 TJR

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 01:40 PM

I have two studio sales a year, in my studio. I put price tags on everything. Not on the bottom, on the handles of mugs and on the rims of bowls. If people like the piece and want to purchase it, they do so.
We had a high school cafeteria lady who used to give credit to students who claimed they didn't have any money. These same students laughed at her behind her back. No one ever paid her back, and she went bankrupt. Our new cafeteria ladies do not take credit.You have to be a bit more hard nosed.
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#4 Biglou13

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 01:58 PM

You can't undervalue your work!!!

Would you give a stranger $10 bill?

In a sense that's what you're doing when you under value your work.

Some people feel (subconcious level) guilt for selling something that they loved and enjoyed making.

But you have to understand. Business is business.

But all this theory doesn't necessarily help,you.

Try this:

Sure ill discount the cup if you buy 4 of them. It's a win win you offered discount in exchange for volume.

Have friend price all you inventory. The friend is now your "business manager". So when you feel the urge to discount or when some one asks for one say that my business managers sets the prices. It takes the hard feelings away from you.

In the flip Side of the coin. By standing firm on prices (if not raising them). People will find the value in your work. Instead of being the 8 dollar mug potter. You suddenly become the fabulous $ 15 dollar mug potter that can't keep inventory on the shelves.

Another strategy is over price your inventory knowing that you may have to lower price to make sale. Mark mug $12 knowing you'll sell it for $10.

One of the best pieces of,advice I got froma teacher mentor......
Sleep with you art!!!! You need to so intimately attached and identify with the piece, the level of ownership, intamacy and familiarity and you ability to verbalize it turns that $20 cup into a $200 fine crafted personalized piece of art.

Two descriptions same products


Before: It's a tea cup I made with a shino glaze on a dark body clay.

After: It took me a few months of trial and error to create the clay body, I wanted it to matain an organic feeling and I wanted it to feel Ike stone so I added grit,to the,clay. I ve made hundreds before I even started to under stand the soul of the tea bowl,or,chawan. I spend a lot of thought and energy in how the lip feels, how the inside of the bowl,looks, how it serves specific functions. How it balances in you hands. I repeat this process thought the creative process. Then I decide which glaze or how to finish each unique piece. Through much testing I've formulated my own glaze which I make here. And every brush stroke I decorate with is a meditative process. On this bowl I left my finger marks on it as I dipped it in the glaze, it s. somewhat if signature, a finger print that follows the bowl. It also allows the for a nice contrast of the hard earthy clay, and the soft white glaze, and this one has some nice shiny crystal formations hidden. The glaze transitions are different every time I think of it as s gift form the kiln spirits. Many if the details are controlled by how's fire the kiln, if I use gas, or electric, reduction or oxidization. I will often fine tune the glaze the kiln the clay . To get look I want. I even carefully scupt the foot so when you pour water out if the foot acts as hadle I'd you will. This one has straight taller wall so the teas stays warm longer, and them shape of bottom allow you whip your properly when making matcha. This one over here is open more of a summer style where the tea cools,faster. I really like the small crackles in the glaze on this one as this one ages the tea will stain the cracks forming a nice patina. But looking at the size of your hands. This one might be a better fit. This one was hand built. It was pinched from ball of clay, it is 100 % hand made. it has a mountain ridge like irregular lip.the beauty of this one is in its movement............

Ok which one is a 10 cup. Or $100 tea bowl?

By Being über familiar with work, and able to verbalize, you not only qualify and validate the value of the product to customer...But more importnat to yourself.

So as an exercise take piece and have it on your person for 24 hours. Look at it. A hundered time......look at it indifferent light. Feel it with eyes closed. The following day talk about technically, physically emotionally. See how you feel about selling that piece now and at what price? ( there's a lot more but I've prolly put you to sleep already)
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#5 GEP

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 02:11 PM

Your're right, this is a big problem. First (and maybe hardest) step in solving a big problem is admitting you have a problem. So at least you've made it over that hurdle.

You say you want people to be happy and come back. Do they come back?
Mea Rhee
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#6 gypsy

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 03:03 PM

You can't undervalue your work!!!

Would you give a stranger $10 bill?

In a sense that's what you're doing when you under value your work.

Some people feel (subconcious level) guilt for selling something that they loved and enjoyed making.

But you have to understand. Business is business.

But all this theory doesn't necessarily help,you.

Try this:

Sure ill discount the cup if you buy 4 of them. It's a win win you offered discount in exchange for volume.

Have friend price all you inventory. The friend is now your "business manager". So when you feel the urge to discount or when some one asks for one say that my business managers sets the prices. It takes the hard feelings away from you.

In the flip Side of the coin. By standing firm on prices (if not raising them). People will find the value in your work. Instead of being the 8 dollar mug potter. You suddenly become the fabulous $ 15 dollar mug potter that can't keep inventory on the shelves.

Another strategy is over price your inventory knowing that you may have to lower price to make sale. Mark mug $12 knowing you'll sell it for $10.

One of the best pieces of,advice I got froma teacher mentor......
Sleep with you art!!!! You need to so intimately attached and identify with the piece, the level of ownership, intamacy and familiarity and you ability to verbalize it turns that $20 cup into a $200 fine crafted personalized piece of art.

Two descriptions same products


Before: It's a tea cup I made with a shino glaze on a dark body clay.

After: It took me a few months of trial and error to create the clay body, I wanted it to matain an organic feeling and I wanted it to feel Ike stone so I added grit,to the,clay. I ve made hundreds before I even started to under stand the soul of the tea bowl,or,chawan. I spend a lot of thought and energy in how the lip feels, how the inside of the bowl,looks, how it serves specific functions. How it balances in you hands. I repeat this process thought the creative process. Then I decide which glaze or how to finish each unique piece. Through much testing I've formulated my own glaze which I make here. And every brush stroke I decorate with is a meditative process. On this bowl I left my finger marks on it as I dipped it in the glaze, it s. somewhat if signature, a finger print that follows the bowl. It also allows the for a nice contrast of the hard earthy clay, and the soft white glaze, and this one has some nice shiny crystal formations hidden. The glaze transitions are different every time I think of it as s gift form the kiln spirits. Many if the details are controlled by how's fire the kiln, if I use gas, or electric, reduction or oxidization. I will often fine tune the glaze the kiln the clay . To get look I want. I even carefully scupt the foot so when you pour water out if the foot acts as hadle I'd you will. This one has straight taller wall so the teas stays warm longer, and them shape of bottom allow you whip your properly when making matcha. This one over here is open more of a summer style where the tea cools,faster. I really like the small crackles in the glaze on this one as this one ages the tea will stain the cracks forming a nice patina. But looking at the size of your hands. This one might be a better fit. This one was hand built. It was pinched from ball of clay, it is 100 % hand made. it has a mountain ridge like irregular lip.the beauty of this one is in its movement............

Ok which one is a 10 cup. Or $100 tea bowl?

By Being über familiar with work, and able to verbalize, you not only qualify and validate the value of the product to customer...But more importnat to yourself.

So as an exercise take piece and have it on your person for 24 hours. Look at it. A hundered time......look at it indifferent light. Feel it with eyes closed. The following day talk about technically, physically emotionally. See how you feel about selling that piece now and at what price? ( there's a lot more but I've prolly put you to sleep already)


Thank you biglou...I wrote a response but it got lost... Thank you for all you wrote...it was poetry....it helped me immensely...thank you

#7 gypsy

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 03:09 PM

Your're right, this is a big problem. First (and maybe hardest) step in solving a big problem is admitting you have a problem. So at least you've made it over that hurdle.

You say you want people to be happy and come back. Do they come back?


Yes people do come back often but I need not make new friends as much as make some money...Thanks for replying. I'm going to work really hard at not giving things away or discounting them...Its so hard for me....biglou helped too....thanks alot!

#8 trina

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 03:45 PM

You can't undervalue your work!!!

Would you give a stranger $10 bill?

In a sense that's what you're doing when you under value your work.

Some people feel (subconcious level) guilt for selling something that they loved and enjoyed making.

But you have to understand. Business is business.

But all this theory doesn't necessarily help,you.

Try this:

Sure ill discount the cup if you buy 4 of them. It's a win win you offered discount in exchange for volume.

Have friend price all you inventory. The friend is now your "business manager". So when you feel the urge to discount or when some one asks for one say that my business managers sets the prices. It takes the hard feelings away from you.

In the flip Side of the coin. By standing firm on prices (if not raising them). People will find the value in your work. Instead of being the 8 dollar mug potter. You suddenly become the fabulous $ 15 dollar mug potter that can't keep inventory on the shelves.

Another strategy is over price your inventory knowing that you may have to lower price to make sale. Mark mug $12 knowing you'll sell it for $10.

One of the best pieces of,advice I got froma teacher mentor......
Sleep with you art!!!! You need to so intimately attached and identify with the piece, the level of ownership, intamacy and familiarity and you ability to verbalize it turns that $20 cup into a $200 fine crafted personalized piece of art.

Two descriptions same products


Before: It's a tea cup I made with a shino glaze on a dark body clay.

After: It took me a few months of trial and error to create the clay body, I wanted it to matain an organic feeling and I wanted it to feel Ike stone so I added grit,to the,clay. I ve made hundreds before I even started to under stand the soul of the tea bowl,or,chawan. I spend a lot of thought and energy in how the lip feels, how the inside of the bowl,looks, how it serves specific functions. How it balances in you hands. I repeat this process thought the creative process. Then I decide which glaze or how to finish each unique piece. Through much testing I've formulated my own glaze which I make here. And every brush stroke I decorate with is a meditative process. On this bowl I left my finger marks on it as I dipped it in the glaze, it s. somewhat if signature, a finger print that follows the bowl. It also allows the for a nice contrast of the hard earthy clay, and the soft white glaze, and this one has some nice shiny crystal formations hidden. The glaze transitions are different every time I think of it as s gift form the kiln spirits. Many if the details are controlled by how's fire the kiln, if I use gas, or electric, reduction or oxidization. I will often fine tune the glaze the kiln the clay . To get look I want. I even carefully scupt the foot so when you pour water out if the foot acts as hadle I'd you will. This one has straight taller wall so the teas stays warm longer, and them shape of bottom allow you whip your properly when making matcha. This one over here is open more of a summer style where the tea cools,faster. I really like the small crackles in the glaze on this one as this one ages the tea will stain the cracks forming a nice patina. But looking at the size of your hands. This one might be a better fit. This one was hand built. It was pinched from ball of clay, it is 100 % hand made. it has a mountain ridge like irregular lip.the beauty of this one is in its movement............

Ok which one is a 10 cup. Or $100 tea bowl?

By Being über familiar with work, and able to verbalize, you not only qualify and validate the value of the product to customer...But more importnat to yourself.

So as an exercise take piece and have it on your person for 24 hours. Look at it. A hundered time......look at it indifferent light. Feel it with eyes closed. The following day talk about technically, physically emotionally. See how you feel about selling that piece now and at what price? ( there's a lot more but I've prolly put you to sleep already)



:)

#9 GEP

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 04:39 PM


Your're right, this is a big problem. First (and maybe hardest) step in solving a big problem is admitting you have a problem. So at least you've made it over that hurdle.

You say you want people to be happy and come back. Do they come back?


Yes people do come back often but I need not make new friends as much as make some money...Thanks for replying. I'm going to work really hard at not giving things away or discounting them...Its so hard for me....biglou helped too....thanks alot!


Repeat customers are a good thing, but there are many ways to foster that without underselling you work. Just remember that people who buy handmade pottery are a rare breed. Sometimes "good value" is an effective selling point, but "lowest price" does not impress them. If your customers are used to your bargains, no need to shock them with drastic price hikes. Just raise your prices a little at a time, over time. No one will notice, no one will mind!

I feel like I am always going through this process with at least one of my designs. I think "I'm selling that for too low" so I start raising the price little by little. And I always feel surprised when nobody minds.
Mea Rhee
Good Elephant Pottery
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#10 Chris Campbell

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 05:22 PM

The only thing I can add to the wonderful advice already given is to realize that you are not alone in this, nor are you the first ... it is a phase many artists go through.
I call it the "Just Happy To Be Here" syndrome. We are so thrilled someone likes our work that we want them to have it ... please!!!
Your complicating factor is that you have real bills to pay. Your utility companies do not give discounts, neither does your landlord. Posted Image
If you really cannot help yourself from giving a discount, then mark it up enough that you can.
A better option is to offer a little something for free ... lagniappe it is called ... make some little free giveaways to pop in the bag as a thank you.

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TRY ...   FAIL ...  LEARN ...  REPEAT


#11 Pompots

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 07:32 PM

Same thing happens to me, i just gave away one of my pieces to a friend, well, i guess we are not yet so commercialized, but I agree that business is business and the clay wont pay for itself if we keep giving away our work. Also I'm very inclined to give discounts even when the people do not ask for it, I guess I'm bad for my own business. lol....nah!

#12 gypsy

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 08:18 PM

Same thing happens to me, i just gave away one of my pieces to a friend, well, i guess we are not yet so commercialized, but I agree that business is business and the clay wont pay for itself if we keep giving away our work. Also I'm very inclined to give discounts even when the people do not ask for it, I guess I'm bad for my own business. lol....nah!


I do the same darn thing and offer big price cuts without even being asked and I think some people think I'm nuts. I like the idea of giving a little something in their bag. Thank you to everyone for helping.

#13 gypsy

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 08:20 PM

Same thing happens to me, i just gave away one of my pieces to a friend, well, i guess we are not yet so commercialized, but I agree that business is business and the clay wont pay for itself if we keep giving away our work. Also I'm very inclined to give discounts even when the people do not ask for it, I guess I'm bad for my own business. lol....nah!


Glad I'm not alone and others are familiar with this....I was feeling like I'm nuts.

#14 Frankiegirl

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 09:05 AM

I rarely give discounts on my work. Why should I? Put aside the fact that I have to eat. The way I see it, I only have so much time to make pots and there is a finite number of pieces I will make in my career. It is not just my time but my talent and (sometimes literally) blood, sweat and tears. I know that many people will see the value in what I do and pay what my work is worth. Should I cheat the customer willing to pay full price by selling an item to someone who doesn't value it as much and is not willing to pay full price? No. I isn't fair to myself or that customer.

Funny story. While at a show, a customer pestered me to give her a discount. I insisted politely that I already give a discount on a set of 4 and if she wanted the discount, she should purchase the set. Well, the whole time I had a line of customers waiting to checkout. Another customer got annoyed at the pestering lady. When it was his turn I line he shoved $200 in my hand to pay for a $160 item. He said, "Keep the change to make up for that lady" (meaning the lady who wanted the discount). In the end, the lady bought the set of 4.

My point is that there is always someone who will see the value in what you do - don't cheat them. Charge full price.

#15 trina

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 10:23 AM

I rarely give discounts on my work. Why should I? Put aside the fact that I have to eat. The way I see it, I only have so much time to make pots and there is a finite number of pieces I will make in my career. It is not just my time but my talent and (sometimes literally) blood, sweat and tears. I know that many people will see the value in what I do and pay what my work is worth. Should I cheat the customer willing to pay full price by selling an item to someone who doesn't value it as much and is not willing to pay full price? No. I isn't fair to myself or that customer.

Funny story. While at a show, a customer pestered me to give her a discount. I insisted politely that I already give a discount on a set of 4 and if she wanted the discount, she should purchase the set. Well, the whole time I had a line of customers waiting to checkout. Another customer got annoyed at the pestering lady. When it was his turn I line he shoved $200 in my hand to pay for a $160 item. He said, "Keep the change to make up for that lady" (meaning the lady who wanted the discount). In the end, the lady bought the set of 4.

My point is that there is always someone who will see the value in what you do - don't cheat them. Charge full price.


Can't agree with you more....T

#16 clay lover

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 11:36 AM

Were your kiln and glazes free ? Mine were not, for sure! It took me 6 years of selling to pay for my entire studio. Making and selling lots of pots and working really hard.


Please do yourself a favor and look at what your personal $ $ investment has been in the pieces you make. If you sell something for what it cost you to make, that is actually 'giving it away." Anything less and you are inviting people to take advantage of you. And they will, even those you consider friends. Look at TJR's post on 'Left at the Altar".

Good luck.

#17 Roberta12

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 02:04 PM

I own a pottery shop and my big problem is I give so much away that its ridiculous. Someone likes a pot so much I always sell it to them for less than I want. I can't stop myself.....I think I can always make another so whats the harm? The harm is I am not making money....maybe I don't value my work enough....can anyone help me from doing this? I just want customers to be happy and come back.



This is a great topic, and very timely for me. Living in a small town, word gets 'round as to how a person's things are priced. I am now going to be able to put some work in a local shop. for 25% commission. So, do I raise my price in that one shop, when many people know they can come to my house and purchase things for less?? I have been pondering, pondering this issue. I talked to an experienced, long term business owner this morning and her advice was to raise my "at home" price to match what I will have to raise at the shop in town. I do agree it has something to do with the "just happy to be here" thinking. Now, I am really having to take a hard look at the time/material that goes into my product and charge what I need to make a profit. I think her words as well as the words of the more experienced on this forum, are spot on. And I truly can do that "thing" that Big Lou is talking about, tell people what it takes to make your piece, the hours/days/years developing what you do. So, YES I will raise my prices (a little at a time) and YES Gypsy, you can quit giving away your pots!!!!! Thanks for posting this dilemma!

Roberta

#18 gypsy

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 02:13 PM


I own a pottery shop and my big problem is I give so much away that its ridiculous. Someone likes a pot so much I always sell it to them for less than I want. I can't stop myself.....I think I can always make another so whats the harm? The harm is I am not making money....maybe I don't value my work enough....can anyone help me from doing this? I just want customers to be happy and come back.



This is a great topic, and very timely for me. Living in a small town, word gets 'round as to how a person's things are priced. I am now going to be able to put some work in a local shop. for 25% commission. So, do I raise my price in that one shop, when many people know they can come to my house and purchase things for less?? I have been pondering, pondering this issue. I talked to an experienced, long term business owner this morning and her advice was to raise my "at home" price to match what I will have to raise at the shop in town. I do agree it has something to do with the "just happy to be here" thinking. Now, I am really having to take a hard look at the time/material that goes into my product and charge what I need to make a profit. I think her words as well as the words of the more experienced on this forum, are spot on. And I truly can do that "thing" that Big Lou is talking about, tell people what it takes to make your piece, the hours/days/years developing what you do. So, YES I will raise my prices (a little at a time) and YES Gypsy, you can quit giving away your pots!!!!! Thanks for posting this dilemma!

Roberta


Thanks Roberta and everyone else.....you gave me a whole lot to think about! It is a business and I have to start treating it as such....thank you.

#19 Idaho Potter

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Posted 18 April 2013 - 08:26 PM

Roberta12 and Gypsy--

Don't EVER undersell your retail outlets! Those shops that are carrying your goods--regardless of what percentage they set as their fees--are doing your marketing! You pack up your goods and take them to the shop, then you go home and wait for a check. Those checks will stop--rather abruptly--if the shop hears buyers saying things like, "Well, I can go to her house and get it for less".

If you don't want to raise your prices when you sell your own work, then you must give up that 25% consignment fee to the person who is selling your work. Consider it your marketing fee. If you have decided your mugs are worth $15, then they are worth $15 no matter who sells them. If some store or gallery wants to buy your work --wholesale--they have a right to sell at a price they choose. Tread gently and trade honestly with retailers in your local area (unless it is a very large urban setting), these folks are promoting your work and besides selling it they dust it every day and keep it in front of the public.

You are trying to establish a business. Mea and Chris have taken the time to work out plans that work for them and for others. There have been great helpful hints in the replies, take heed. One that rang a bell with me is setting up a "business manager" who sets the prices. Yes it is roundaabout, but set a price and stick to it. If you have work that doesn't sell, set it aside and when someone buys one of your more expensive items, add one of the slow sellers as a thank you. Don't be the person to ruin your chance of success.

Shirley




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