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Thread: Terms and Conditions

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    Default Terms and Conditions

    Just wondering what kind of conditions, if any, that y'all lay out for potential and/or current customers in regards to the process of building them a bike. Do you have a contract or written agreement that they must sign? Or do you simply list all possible costs, projected timelines and other possible terms on your website? Do you have "change of order", redesign or refitting fees? Are the customers aware of those possible fees before they order?

    I want to keep the process of ordering a hand made bike simple and enjoyable for the customer, and laying out a stack of terms seems to detract from that, but at the same time I find it necessary to protect my interests because if they are undermined then the business (me) suffers. I would like to think my pricing structure and ordering process is relatively clear on my website, but people seem to find yet newer ways to amaze me.
    Jeremy Shlachter
    Gallus Cycles

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    Default Re: Terms and Conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by Gallus View Post
    . I would like to think my pricing structure <cut>.
    Unless all of your vendors, overhead suppliers, and agents hold their prices firm to you (energy costs, derailleurs, tubes sets, insurance, the price of a meal (particularly the Catch Of The Day) at your favorite seafood restaurant, I'd suggest you keep yours a moving target as well.

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    Default Re: Terms and Conditions

    I'm really early in the whole building process, but here's what I envision it to be:

    I state on my site the price of a type of frame using "typical" dropouts and braze-ons, with the caveat that specific desires (tubing, braze-ons, etc) will affect the price. As part of the design process, all that gets rolled together, and once it's agreed to, that's the contract and half is due before fabrication begins. I don't have a specified lead-time, as this is a part-time gig and things happen, but I'll keep the customers in the loop on progress and have the queue fully published and progress on each frame designated on the list.

    Feel free to tear that apart, it's just my thoughts and are subject to the whims of the market (read: getting my ass handed to me).
    DT

    http://www.mjolnircycles.com/

    Some are born to move the world to live their fantasies...

    "the fun outweighs the suck, and the suck hasn't killed me yet." -- chasea

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    Default Re: Terms and Conditions

    Not in the frame biz, but have run other businesses so hopefully that qualifies me to answer ...

    In addition to thinking from an inside-out perspective (how does this affect me), also strongly consider approaching this from the outside-in (what is your customer experiencing). From a customer perspective..."what can I expect to happen" and "does the person/business's reputation support that expectation" are key. This applies to to pricing and delivery.

    If the pricing is not clear it will feel like I was taken advantage of or there was a game of bait-and-switch...my product is $200 unless you want to be able to attach wheels which makes it $2000.
    I should be able to quickly understand the price of what I want from you from your site. Purely from an end customer perspective, really simple pricing structures are helpful. And as long as you do not have multi year waiting lists, you should be able to stick to published prices. But, be careful how/where you publish prices so that you can easily change them.

    A far as delivery times, publishing a window based time frame is fine. It is delivering on the time frame that is important.
    Brian McLaughlin

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    Default Re: Terms and Conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by e-RICHIE View Post
    Unless all of your vendors, overhead suppliers, and agents hold their prices firm to you (energy costs, derailleurs, tubes sets, insurance, the price of a meal (particularly the Catch Of The Day) at your favorite seafood restaurant, I'd suggest you keep yours a moving target as well.
    Though my wait time is minimal compared to yours, I can see how fluctuating costs can affect the "bottom line". I understand that your queue is now closed, but when you were taking new orders did you simply give inquiring customers an estimate based on the last completed bike(s)?
    Jeremy Shlachter
    Gallus Cycles

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    Default Re: Terms and Conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by Gallus View Post
    Though my wait time is minimal compared to yours, I can see how fluctuating costs can affect the "bottom line". I understand that your queue is now closed, but when you were taking new orders did you simply give inquiring customers an estimate based on the last completed bike(s)?
    My advice is given regardless of the wait time atmo. The prices here haven't been locked in for a very, very long time. Maybe since the late 1990s.

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    Default Re: Terms and Conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by Bewheels View Post
    In addition to thinking from an inside-out perspective (how does this affect me), also strongly consider approaching this from the outside-in (what is your customer experiencing). From a customer perspective..."what can I expect to happen" and "does the person/business's reputation support that expectation" are key. This applies to to pricing and delivery.
    Hi Brian, thanks for your insight. I agree with most of what you said. My ultimate goal is to make the customer happy and feel like they had a good experience.

    This post was not so much about pricing as it is about customers changing the order between the time of their deposit and the start of the project. My queue hovers around 6 months to a year. Typically when the customer puts down the deposit it is after some discussion of what kind of bike they want. This usually starts innocently enough and they want a straightforward bike. If they are local and I have them in my shop at this time then we do the fitting. On quite a few occasions now, when I have contacted the customers to inform them that I was about to start building their bike, they inform me that they now want a totally different bike then the one they ordered, or want all sorts of unnecessary accoutrements stuck on the frame. A lot of times this involves refitting and redesigning the bike. Worst case scenario they have attached themselves to a concept or style that is very far from what I want to do. If they had informed me that these were the things they wanted initially I would have told them that it wasn't what I do, explained what I can do, and recommend someone else if necessary. But by the time this has happened, they are anxious to get their bike, probably mad at me for running behind schedule, very much attached to their ideas, and it makes it difficult to reason with them.

    For the most part, I enjoy the dialogue I have with my customers, I want to know all about them, and that helps me make informed decisions and a sound design. Maybe I will even learn something new during the process. I want to make the right bike for the customer, but to do so I need to be in control of the build and of my business. I am trying to figure out a way to more consistently insure that happens, without coming across as a dictator or take away the fun of ordering a hand made bike.
    Jeremy Shlachter
    Gallus Cycles

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    Default Re: Terms and Conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by Gallus View Post

    This post was not so much about pricing as it is about customers changing the order between the time of their deposit and the start of the project.

    I would add this: the order is a place holder. Once you have a handshake, fiscal or otherwise, the order is a name on a line in a book and stays there until the very week or day you will make it. Having front end, mid-term, or any other chats about the specs before you cut metal is counterproductive. Once the commitment is made, go back to the client you are making a frame for now. Otherwise, you're designing, selling, and or reselling a frame multiple times. The courting period is a bit different, but once the order arrives, leave it be until it's go-baby time.

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    Default Re: Terms and Conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by e-RICHIE View Post
    Having front end, mid-term, or any other chats about the specs before you cut metal is counterproductive. Once the commitment is made, go back to the client you are making a frame for now. Otherwise, you're designing, selling, and or reselling a frame multiple times.
    I couldn't agree more. I have typically found that the customer sends a deposit and wants to see something happen immediately. People are very accustomed to instant gratification these days, especially when handing over a large chunk of money. In the past I have obliged them and done a little design work etc in an attempt to appease this mentality. But yes, it is very counterproductive and I am trying better to address this issue. Maybe outlining it more clearly on the "order process" page on the site.

    Ok, time to get back to the current client's bike....
    Jeremy Shlachter
    Gallus Cycles

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    Default Re: Terms and Conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by Gallus View Post
    I couldn't agree more. I have typically found that the customer sends a deposit and wants to see something happen immediately. People are very accustomed to instant gratification these days, especially when handing over a large chunk of money. In the past I have obliged them and done a little design work etc in an attempt to appease this mentality. But yes, it is very counterproductive and I am trying better to address this issue. Maybe outlining it more clearly on the "order process" page on the site.

    Ok, time to get back to the current client's bike....
    Don't ask for, or accept, a large chunk of money atmo. Keep it to an amount small enough that you genuinely feel is a fiscal handshake, and one that you could return at any time. The deposit isn't income, or a separate revenue stream. And of course, never (EVER) spend that money.

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    Default Re: Terms and Conditions

    i really liked how dkirk did it

    met him in person, gave a 300$ cheque

    timeline was rough, but he was VERY flexible to work around me

    once my name came up in the queue and I confirmed I wanted to move forward design work was done, then once both of us signed off on it he took a materials deposit

    balance isn't paid until he gets the frame back from JB.

    there was zero communication between the initial deposit and when he was ready to work on my frame. At that point he ONLY worked on the one frame, so it had his complete attention, and going back and forth over things flowed organically within the design process.

    I guess my take away would be it is good to be aloof when it is not the customers turn, and then do what you must to get them the frame when it is their turn.
     

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    Default Re: Terms and Conditions

    For the sake of conversation, here's how I do it:

    I get a handful of inquiries per week. Some weeks more than others. I take the time each morning to reply to each one individually and talk about what kind of build they are after. I touch on points very shortly to get the conversation started and get them thinking. I have noticed that a lot of the same questions get asked and answered all the time:

    - How much is the deposit?
    - How long is the wait?
    - What is the general turn around?
    - How does the process of building work once it is my turn?

    Basically, there is a formula that has arisen with inquiries. I personalize the first half of the response, and then to make things run quickly and smoothly, I have a bit of a form letter pre-prepared that I use to plug and play. It gives the basic information to get the ball rolling in terms of how long the wait is till I can get to the last bike on the list, what the starting price point is, what the options and pricing are (this is my combined fit/pricing guide available for download via the website), and how the actual process works from the time you get on the list, till your turn comes up, an outline of what I need when it is your turn, what you will see for the quotes/specs and how the actual build takes place from start to finish. It's very straight forward and gets down to brass tacks. I leave nothing to the imagination.

    Pricing is a set number today, but this can change, it is noted that it can change and this is more to give the inquiring client a ballpark for getting their finances together for their investment.

    Initially, we do discuss information about what type of bike they want and yes we do get into details depending on the customer. But largely, this is just to discuss the possibilities. No real numbers, totals, etc. are truly discussed and contracts written until their turn comes up and I am actually designing the frame and spec'ing the components part for part. I have instituted a policy that I require them to supply me with all their fit information before hand so I can get the ball rolling quickly when it is their turn - I've found getting that info at a later date to be an inefficiency, and best to get it right from the start while they are excited. Not designing the bike with the initial conversation leaves me time to work on the current build, concentrate on tasks at hand, and solidify work for the future to keep the doors open and to keep things running smoothly. It also enables me to not waste time with builds and clients who will change their mind midstream after work has been done. That can wait for when I am actually sitting down, designing/working on that particular build. They can change their minds any which way they want, ask questions along the way and I will answer those questions to help guide their decisions and build but by just focusing on reserving their spot in the list saves me time overall.

    This is just me, and I have found it to work for me, but I do not take any deposit to hold their spot in the list. Merely a firm, verbal commitment. If our collective word is not good enough, then I do not want to do business with you. However, when it is your turn, it is 50% down on frame, 100% down on any components and the remaining balance is due before the frame/complete ships. The fedex tracking number is the clients receipt their bicycle is on its way. There are no if's, and's or but's about this. I am very serious about my work. I want the client to be just as serious, if not more serious about their build and their commitment to their investment. Things have run very smoothly with this approach for me.

    However, with any of the above, the best advice I can give no matter what path you choose for this would be:

    Be up front with your client. Listen to what they want. Be truthful in your answers. Know when to put your ego to the side and when to stick to your guns. Be completely transparent about how your process works. Remove any doubt or ambiguities as to how the process takes shape and unfolds. Deliver what the client needs. Deliver the work on time, on budget and exceed your clients expectations.

    If you fail to do any of these things to the best of your ability or you consistently fall short with one or a few of these, you will get no where really fast.
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    Default Re: Terms and Conditions

    as a follow up question, for those of you who run longer (ie longer than 1 year) wait list WITH published build prices, how do you factor in pricing for builds two years out, when a deposit has been placed now. IE, if one puts in a deposit at 3400$ total cost, and steel prices go up to where you need to price at 3800$ to feel comfortable, do you tell the customer to deal with it, or do you eat it on that one?
     

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    Default Re: Terms and Conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by andrew flowers View Post
    as a follow up question, for those of you who run longer (ie longer than 1 year) wait list WITH published build prices, how do you factor in pricing for builds two years out, when a deposit has been placed now. IE, if one puts in a deposit at 3400$ total cost, and steel prices go up to where you need to price at 3800$ to feel comfortable, do you tell the customer to deal with it, or do you eat it on that one?
    I would think that up-front transparency regarding needed price changes due to market conditions would be a good thing to have.
    DT

    http://www.mjolnircycles.com/

    Some are born to move the world to live their fantasies...

    "the fun outweighs the suck, and the suck hasn't killed me yet." -- chasea

    "Sometimes, as good as it feels to speak out, silence is the only way to rise above the morass. The high road is generally a quiet route." -- echelon_john

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    Default Re: Terms and Conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by andrew flowers View Post
    as a follow up question, for those of you who run longer (ie longer than 1 year) wait list WITH published build prices, how do you factor in pricing for builds two years out, when a deposit has been placed now. IE, if one puts in a deposit at 3400$ total cost, and steel prices go up to where you need to price at 3800$ to feel comfortable, do you tell the customer to deal with it, or do you eat it on that one?
    You don't. The best you can do atmo is to make mention of what the invoice price is at present, and let the discerning public extrapolate forward or in any direction. I don't know what prescriptions, or a gallon of gas, or lawyer fees, or my insurance premiums will be in the near or far future. But I pay what they ask me to when the fateful day that I need them arrives. The client is reserving a place in time. Stuff happens between the handshake and the metal cutting, and in these recent examples, higher material or overhead costs affect what the price is at that time.

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    Default Re: Terms and Conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by andrew flowers View Post
    as a follow up question, for those of you who run longer (ie longer than 1 year) wait list WITH published build prices, how do you factor in pricing for builds two years out, when a deposit has been placed now. IE, if one puts in a deposit at 3400$ total cost, and steel prices go up to where you need to price at 3800$ to feel comfortable, do you tell the customer to deal with it, or do you eat it on that one?
    Again, this is right from the start: You establish that pricing is "For Example Only" and that it is subject to change due to fluctuating costs which will be readdressed at the time of the build. And as David mentions above, it's all about being up front and removing any doubt as to where any of the typical pitfalls arise with misunderstandings about monetary transactions. This is also a huge reason when people ask me if they can pay in full ahead of time, I refuse. Some have insisted on giving me a deposit which is ok, but I do not take large sums of money until I actually am about to cut metal because of this.

    Once it is their turn, I've found many actually just pay everything in full at once and the remaining balance is shipping costs or any additional components which they suddenly decide they want to "upgrade".

    Another one I do mention to international customers is Shipping, Taxes and Duties. This is really important to let them know this is all on them and it is a significant investment depending on where the bike is headed, and just how big that bike is. Fat bikes in particular because of the wheel size and the package size can get expensive to send overseas from what I have found - so I let the client and potential client know to make sure they are covering those bases as it is an added expense.
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    Default Re: Terms and Conditions

    I agree wholeheartedly. I have never paid more than 10% for a deposit, and have always assumed it was simply a placeholder. Also, with mr Kirk the price was never nailed down, as the cost, depending on what I wanted from the bike was pretty variable.
     

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    Default Re: Terms and Conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by andrew flowers View Post
    as a follow up question, for those of you who run longer (ie longer than 1 year) wait list WITH published build prices, how do you factor in pricing for builds two years out, when a deposit has been placed now. IE, if one puts in a deposit at 3400$ total cost, and steel prices go up to where you need to price at 3800$ to feel comfortable, do you tell the customer to deal with it, or do you eat it on that one?
    If the price of steel goes down, does the builder lower the price?
     

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    Default Re: Terms and Conditions

    One point I wanna add is this: even when someone wants to prepay (for whatever reason - but in this case to possibly lock in a price...) the only way that could work is if you make the bicycle that day. My experience through the decades is that a client wants what you're making now, and not what you did six weeks or six months ago. That's assuming your work evolves. And if it doesn't, or hasn't, it's another thread. No matter how much time passes, time and skill sets march on.

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    Default Re: Terms and Conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by Vlad Luskin View Post
    If the price of steel goes down, does the builder lower the price?
    Is there a law firm example we can use here as an analogy? I'm serious atmo.

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