Usually when I get a special order, I like to make two of whatever it is, so I have a back-up and there are not undue delays on getting the order out of the studio. Sometimes, both the original and the back-up will fail, in which case I go for round three, which will usually take care of the problem. In fact, I strongly believe in the power of three, and my ability to pull off an order in three rounds or less. But my ability to do this has been mightily challenged in these past months. Right now, I have four orders I can't seem to get out the door. I've failed after three rounds on all of these orders.
It's so frustrating, and kind of depressing too. I hate to see my hard work collect in the shard pile. But here are a few coping tips I've developed over the years and keep me from losing too much sleep when orders are going off the rails:
- I communicate with the customer right away when there is going to be a delay. Nothing is more annoying for a customer than having to check in because their order isn't shipping, and then discovering from the artist there is a problem. I do this to give myself a bit of breathing space and move up the ship date.
- I'm always completely honest with the customer about what's happening. I explain clearly what is going on without being too wordy, I don't make excuses, and I apologize for the inconvenience. This goes a long way to soothe any impatient customers.
- I don't worry that the customer is going to be mad at me. If they are mad that they can't get their pottery when they want it, that's a personal problem. They are my client, not my mommy or daddy. In other words, I keep it professional.
- Failed pieces are part of being a potter. They just are. You, me, and everyone else out there crazy enough to make pottery are always going to have failures. I do my best to accept it and move on. Sometimes I have to throw a little tantrum first, and that's okay too.