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Working from home: shipping options


racolvin
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For those of you who work out of your house/garage like I do:

How do you handle getting your product in the hands of your local customers? Do you ship them like you would an out-of-state order, or do you let them come to your home and pick them up?

Some have stated that they'll deliver to a customer for no-charge, if they happen to be in the area at the time on other errands but obviously if someone orders from an area you don't normally go to, you'd have to get them the product some other way.

I added a Local Delivery option that I charge $4 for, which is cheaper than shipping but helps offset my gas/auto costs. My home business permit from the city prohibits me from letting customers come to my home to pick stuff up, unless it isn't noticeable by the neighbors ;) If lots of traffic started showing up I could get in trouble.

So how do the rest of you handle it?

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Other than zoning issues, liability can be very tricky. Assuming you have liability insurance should a visiting friend fall and sue, insurance companies take a totally different look at covering you if it's a customer making a purchase. If push came to shove in a courtroom, your insurance company would most likely not come to your defense unless you have a policy that specifically states you're covered for injuries to customers.

There's also the fact that it's your home, your castle, your privacy. No way would I want customers nosing around where I keep my supplies. Next thing you know, they will be wanting to help or watch. I've had that happen with friends who were visiting and decided to make a purchase while they were here. I try to draw a very BOLD line between business and pleasure.

Nope. Not gonna happen. Keep them off your property. Meet them somewhere, even if it's just at the end of the street. Explain to them that you don't have "customer liability." They will pretend to understand that and will be more inclined to make other arrangements.

www.StuffSunshineLikes.com

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I am small so handle local deliveries a variety of ways. May thru Sept. I do a local FM and will take orders with me for customer pick up. I have delivered orders when I'm out and about if the delivery is in the general area, I have met customers 1/2 way for those further away, and I have shipped where other options were not convenient. I do have a sampling of all my items at a local shop and refer people there when the want to look and sniff.

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I had a supplier once meet me at a park close to her place for pick ups. This was down in Phoenix, and she was in the process of building a warehouse, I believe, but in the meantime, was working from her home (a large storage unit on the back of her property). She got busy enough that she started setting several times weekly for these drop offs (always joked about dealing drugs out of the back of her car in the park! LOL!), because her customers had her running at all kinds of hours down there. She laid out the times, said pick one, let me know, or pay for shipping. I honestly think that's very reasonable.

I've had a few locals pick things up from me, but I've done similar to the above, and met them outside my home. I've always liked the park aspect, because I'd let me kids go play on the playground, which allowed me to chat with my customer without too much kid interruption, and it also kept my home private.

Edited to add, I usually added a local pick up fee of about $2.00 or so. I haven't done this in a while, so it's not on any of my sites at the moment. If I have to drive to get to the meeting place, they're paying for my gas and time! Both are way too expensive and valuable these days! LOL!

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I am lucky in that I have a friend who owns a business and if they want to pick up, he handles that for me. I bag them up and put the invoice on it, they pay him and then he gives it to me. It works out great because he is there from early in the morning until 6 p.m., so I am not trying to work my schedule around a customer's schedule. I "pay" him for his trouble with candles. :)

I used to allow people to come over and grab orders but I had a pretty frightening experience a couple of years ago. I actually got to the point where I talked to a police officer about it (our friend is the chief of police, so it was not like I filed a formal complaint, I just picked up the phone and called him at home, lol), and he said I might want to think about a restraining order. The whole thing kind of died, and that was it. So bottom line, for liability reasons and safety reasons, I just don't think it is a good idea.

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The only time I have had people in my home was back in Kansas for 2 different open houses. I invited friends who brought friends/co-workers with them. My friends of course come by to pick theirs up, but otherwise I have met them out somewhere. I usually try and pick a place half way or in an area I will be out and about in anyway, but it doesnt always work out that way. I haven't done it but 3 times and I didnt charge a fee, but now that I think about it, I know I should because it does take gas to get there.

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I'd never let strangers come to my house to buy. Way too many wack-o's out there and I sure don't want them to know where I live. I'm a magnet that way. Especially if they are unhappy about something they think I did. Beside, if it's against your zoning law why do it? Last week I wanted a cleaning product and the company is local. I asked if I could pick it up because shipping across town was going to be almost $10.00. They said they weren't zoned for it but he would meet me half way after hours. We looked like a couple of drug dealers in the Holiday Inn parking lot swapping his package for my money. :Werd:

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I do local deliveries within a 25 mile radius of my home and charge a $3.00 delivery fee, no exceptions - even if I am making errands in the area. I live in the country and do not have any zoning issues so if the customer prefers to pick up an order, a date and time is pre-arranged. Back in the day when I was working out of my kitchen it was hard to "conceal" my work process but now I have a shop in my basement and pick ups are limited to my front door.

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I don't charge any fees for local delivery as long as the order is over $50.00. Otherwise it isn't worth it to me. I just started charging a $5.00 fee only because they are saying gas prices are going to be hovering around $4.00 per gal. by next year. I don't let any clients come over. Too much of a liability. Years ago I had a 60 year old client come over and it had snowed and was slick outside. Well the lady left I shut the door and went about my business and this lady slipped and fell into the snow and laid their for at least 20 mins. I had no clue because I didn't hear anything until I went to take the garbage out and saw her laying there. The lady was fine but since she was on her tummy she had a hard time getting up and needed help. I was horrified. She wasn't hurt or anything but after that I said no more clients coming to my home.

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I'd never let strangers come to my house to buy. Way too many wack-o's out there and I sure don't want them to know where I live. I'm a magnet that way. Especially if they are unhappy about something they think I did. Beside, if it's against your zoning law why do it? Last week I wanted a cleaning product and the company is local. I asked if I could pick it up because shipping across town was going to be almost $10.00. They said they weren't zoned for it but he would meet me half way after hours. We looked like a couple of drug dealers in the Holiday Inn parking lot swapping his package for my money. :Werd:
LOL, I can just image if the cops just happen to pull up on this.. Boy they sure would have gotten a surprise once they saw what was in the package.
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