I have a business on-line where I sell Rick Thum hammered dulcimers. It’s not a big enterprise, but I enjoy helping people get into the wonderful world of hammered dulcimers. I write lengthy messages whenever a prospective buyer inquires. My prices are deeply discounted. Over the three or four years I’ve been a distributor, I’ve sold well over 100 dulcimers for Rick. My customers become my friends and I often hear from them afterward about how they appreciate my level of service.
My busy season is always December.
December 2008 had been disappointingly quiet. I figured it was “the economy.”
But starting about last Thursday, I began receiving 4 to 6 inquiries a day. Not every inquiry resulted in a sale, but I ended up the season with a bang. Yesterday Rick shipped out THREE for my customers plus I sold my own lovely Professional hammered dulcimer.
But when folks wait that long, it becomes a challenge to figure out how they can get their payment to me quickly. Since most everyone who contacts me via the internet is initally a stranger, I ask for prepayment before the order is shipped. I’ve always dealt with very honest folks, but the horror stories of internet scams have taught me to be cautious. So, although I’ll accept personal checks, I ask that they get to me before I place the order (which generally is shipped out within a day.)
I accept credit cards, but only through Paypal. And when using Paypal that way, Paypal assesses me 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction. To be equitable, I assess a service fee equal to that amount therefore I can keep my prices low. (2.9% plus 30 cents sounds like so little, but if added to a $1,255 instrument sale or even a $400 one, it is an amount not to be sneezed at.)
So the cheapest way is to complete all the arrangements and decisions for the sale early enough so the customer can send a personal check.
I did receive one check Monday, but the other last minute buyers used Paypal even though there was a charge for the service. All the instruments are on their way and I can breathe!
With so many orders coming in, it got really confusing about who had paid, who was sending a check, who was paying with a credit card, who…. well, you get the idea.
I spent at between five and seven hours yesterday answering inquiries and scheduling sales.
I will never get rich, but I am a very legitimate Michigan business. (My accountant will vouch for that.)
Now that all of the orders are in, I can relax!
Additionally we are more at ease because we wrapped up our Sub-Strings’ (our dulcimer club’s) playing commitments. This a.m. we played for Christmas at Bronners. It was a fun way to wrap up the 2008 holiday season with our club. All of those folks are really special to us.
Our performance was broadcast live through a website so even those who were far away could enjoy the show.
We are packed to take off early in the morning for Florida. There’s a storm predicted to be coming later tomorrow but we hope to be well ahead of the bad weather. (Up to 10 inches may blanket this region.)
Today is Wednesday. By Saturday, we’ll be enjoying 80 degree temperatures in Sun City Center. Wow what a wonderful thought!