turnaround time

I’m posting about this specifically because of a phone call I received today (12/4).

The caller had been referred from the local quilt shop (at which I work part time), because they knew I do a good job making t-shirt quilts. She asked if I could make some for her.

She needed six – five large lap size and one baby size. I told her I could cut her a deal for so many quilts and quoted her a price.

Because she hadn’t mentioned the timeframe, I asked if she wanted them by Christmas (remember the date above)…

She said, “That would be nice…”

Um, no.

Why not, you may ask?

Realistically, making that many t-shirt quilts would take me about 2 weeks without interspersing any other work. Just working on those. ONLY. And I work fast.

At present, I have 3 lap and a king sized t-shirt quilt to make start to finish prior to Christmas, as well as 5 quilts to quilt and 3 to bind in that same timeframe.

I have planned out my workload, and I know I can complete all these projects. I could even fit in a few more quilting jobs (no more t-shirt quilts though). Instead maybe I should just enjoy the time after I finish and work on charity projects.

So when people ask why it takes so long to get their job back from the quilter, here is why:

They have a backlog of work, in most every case. As an example, there was a day last month that I (literally) took in 10 jobs in one day. TEN. Those were not all easy all-over jobs. That included many custom jobs, very large quilts. So in one single day, my backlog grew by 3 weeks.

Three weeks? Yes. Three weeks because one quilt may have taken a day, but if I had an appointment here and there that caused me half days, that took away from my timeframe. And if a quilt was custom or potentially difficult, I would estimate it for 2-3 days, depending on the size.

Why so long? What happens if I under estimate the time it takes for my jobs to be completed????? How would you feel as my customer if I told you it would take 3 weeks and 5 weeks later you are sitting there wondering why I haven’t called you? What if you had a deadline like Christmas and I hadn’t called you?

So when you plan to have a quilter make something for you or even just quilt something for you (because you need to plan in the time afterwards to bind it), remember that they have work from other people in queue, and you will have to wait your turn. Some of us will pull you forward but charge you overtime or rush fee, but understand that the busiest times of the year are October – December and April – June.

I did a study on my business for the last 5 years. 42% of my income comes from the 4th quarter of the year on average. 21% comes from the three months prior to traditional graduation.

So if you are planning on a special t-shirt quilt for someone, try to plan ahead to ensure your quilter has plenty of time to get your gift back to you before your event.

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2 thoughts on “turnaround time

  1. This is a good reminder. I appreciate your businesslike approach to this. I was lucky with the first long-arm quilter I worked with. She had a long backlog all the time. A new quilt would go on her list, and when it was almost time, she would call the piecer and tell them to bring it in. After that, typically, it would be about 2 weeks. She was really clear in what to expect, just like you are, and she followed through. This is in contrast to another quilter with whom I worked. She agreed on a deadline that suited both of us, based on the work she already had lined up. A week after the deadline I was still having trouble reaching her. She didn’t respond to phone calls or email. It was a few more days before I finally got my quilt back. She did a wonderful job, but her business practices were horrible and I would never work with her again.

    • thank you – it’s tough because most of us in the business don’t remember that folks outside the business don’t understand the in’s and out’s of it. So we forget to tell them all the details and then wonder why they don’t understand. Each quilter works differently and handles their business differently. Some have no customer service experience and some have a lot. Some are in their craft because they are introverts and don’t deal as efficiently with people interactions, and don’t have to as much as they would in a retail environment. But bottom line, there is always someone to answer to = the customer. Even in this business.

      Toughest part is probably estimation of time, especially with custom jobs because it’s REALLY hard to estimate how long it will take my creativity to kick in and figure out how to handle the customers expectations of what my creativity will come up with – and then to execute that!

      so anyway, thank you for understanding and providing feedback. it is important for a quilter to be clear about their timeframe, and to stick to it.

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