Hustle & Heart: Should Your Brand Offer Custom Work?



BY TARYN JEREZ

Your brand isn’t one size fits all. In fact, it may not even be one size fits most, and that’s ok!

The mission behind your business, the vision for where it’s going and what you sell can absolutely be specific to the kind of customers that you want to serve. The option to offer custom products or custom services, however, is a way to appeal to your specific audience in a way that feels more personalized and unique. By creating this type of work for yourself, it could easily become one of your favorite or least favorite aspects of what you sell.

That’s because custom work isn’t for everyone! While you can find lots of competitor businesses offering it up, you have to ask yourself a few important questions to determine if the choice is right for you and your brand.

Here we go!  

#1 Ask Yourself: Is this a “Want” in My Industry? 

When it comes to your products or services, what are your customers’ wants and needs regarding them? Are there specific requests you’ve received in the past to create something you didn’t already offer? Think about others in your industry and how your work may differ from theirs. Do you see opportunities for custom orders or listings that could easily be part of what you do as a brand? While you may have your consistent offers or collections available, your customer may just go gaga over being able to order something created just for them. If you have been on the brink of providing that custom option, this can definitely play a part in the deciding factor.  

#2 Ask Yourself: Is it Worth My Time and Energy? 

Custom work means added urgency, communication, and workload, typically all surrounding the customer placing the order. Think about your average workweek and envision the time it would take to add these additional responsibilities into it. Try to give yourself a moment to picture how it feels as a whole. Do you see space to commit to the creativity and execution of custom requests without altering the other aspects of your workweek? Maybe there are opportunities where this work would fit perfectly and challenge you professionally. Are there other ways to capitalize on custom orders, such as adding what you create permanently to your offering afterward or reusing certain aspects? For example, if you take photos of custom art pieces you create for a customer, perhaps you can utilize them for marketing purposes. Make it worth it! 

#3 Ask Yourself: Is This a Money Maker or a Money Taker?

Having a strong process in place for custom work is often an afterthought for many small businesses but it’s important in order to set expectations up front for yourself and your customer. Having that process include increased pricing for custom work, requesting a paid-in-full or partial deposit at time of ordering, communicated turnaround times, and even a cutoff for how many custom slots you’re allotting for within a specific timeframe can all help you see your bottom line more clearly. Can you see the profit advantage of providing custom work or does it feel like more work than it’s worth? You don’t want to be putting more money and time into customer orders and not seeing your rightful return.

#4 Ask Yourself: Does it Bring Me Joy? 

 This is one of the most important questions of all! You can do lots of things as a brand that could be making money, but make sure it brings you joy. Does the initial excitement you feel over a custom order coming in stay long-term or are you quickly met with dread after it arrives, realizing that you have to actually do it? More often than not, people recognize this as a red flag that custom work may not be the right choice for them. Maybe you feel like your creativity is put in a box when you do a custom order? Then again, perhaps it’s giving you the chance to do something new and exciting? Be honest with yourself to find out which one you are and hold onto your joy!

Now that you’ve asked yourself the tough questions, where do you stand as a brand when it comes to custom work? Are you “all systems go!” or ready to take it off the table? Remember, it’s not always about what sells, so if you feel like you’re closer to the “no” side of things, give yourself permission to say “goodbye” and concentrate on your pre-made products and offers. Your business will be stronger for it!


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