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View Full Version : What's going down here at JKS - getting a handle on things



Dave Martell
04-06-2013, 03:50 PM
One of the dumbest things I've done was to start accepting payments on work not yet completed. It's been a good thing to keep the ball rolling but what I didn't anticipate was the level of interest that my services and knives would garner. I was naive in thinking that I could stay ahead of this amount of work and then that my customers would be patient and understanding as I fell behind. I have some great customers but I also have some tough customers who expect better service, that's service that they've been accustomed to receiving from me in the past. I can't blame them for this at all, however, the time constraints of answering status update emails, PMs, and phone calls has become a large part of what I do these days when I'm sure that my time would be better used working on my backlog. Today alone, I have spent over 4 hours addressing update questions, see this is a problem. :bigeek:

So to address the issue I'm first staring with the discontinuing of any pre-paid for work to which includes rehandles, Hiro thinning, & Martell knife orders.

For the work....

Western rehandle & Hiro thinning/etching work (without coupons) will have to send in the knife/knives and wait in line behind all other work in the shop waiting in line ahead of your knife. I won't lie here - this will be a LONG wait.

Martell knife orders (http://www.japaneseknifesharpeningstore.com/Dave-Martell-Knives-s/126.htm) will not be taken with layaway payments anymore nor will any advanced payments be accepted. Please PM or email to get on the waiting list. I will contact you for a deposit when it's time to talk details and get started. I won't lie here either - the wait time is going to be LONG here as well.

Stefan Keller wa handles, as well as all sharpening/repair work, will continue to be completed with priority. I devote a few hours each day to sharpening as this is time sensitive work (turnaround time is the #1 thing for mail order sharpeners - people judge this above quality) and I'm able to do a few Stefan handles in between other jobs without problem. Having said that I can not guarantee that your Stefan handle will be installed right away as sometimes I receive 10-20 of these at a time meaning a much longer wait time than has been seen in the past.


For those with work currently in the shop waiting....

If you have a knife here waiting for work to be completed please know that I'm working as hard as I can to get your work done. I promise to do the work in order of receipt but I often have to consider when to work on a knife as is best suited for my workflow in the shop. If you do not hear from me on an update then you should know that there is no update to give.


As always I want you all to know how grateful Robin & I am for all your business and support. With the sale of KKF we are looking at a lot more time to get our business back on track and look forward to serving you the best service and products we can.

Thanks for your time!
Dave

JBroida
04-06-2013, 04:06 PM
Dave... good luck catching up... i know how it goes... i've spent a number of 16+ hour days lately just trying to get caught up a bit.

Dave Martell
04-06-2013, 04:09 PM
Dave... good luck catching up... i know how it goes... i've spent a number of 16+ hour days lately just trying to get caught up a bit.


I was thinking about you this morning because I've noticed you posting less and less, I figured that you were swamped too. It's one of those good and bad problems to have. :)

Dave Martell
04-06-2013, 04:41 PM
For clarification, if you're looking at getting on the list for a Martell knife (http://www.japaneseknifesharpeningstore.com/Dave-Martell-Knives-s/126.htm) it's now easier than ever....just send me a message and it's done. No payment is required until it's time to start work - 50% down - then the remainder when the knife is complete.

JBroida
04-06-2013, 05:11 PM
I was thinking about you this morning because I've noticed you posting less and less, I figured that you were swamped too. It's one of those good and bad problems to have. :)

swamped doesnt even begin to cover it :(

Slowly catching up... answered e-mails for about 10 hours straight yesterday

Igasho
04-06-2013, 05:33 PM
swamped doesnt even begin to cover it :(

Slowly catching up... answered e-mails for about 10 hours straight yesterday

sounds like you need another employee

JBroida
04-06-2013, 05:35 PM
indeed

kalaeb
04-06-2013, 05:56 PM
Sounds like you are headed in the right direction. Good luck!

bikehunter
04-06-2013, 07:57 PM
Jeez, you guys would rather be worrying about not having ENOUGH business, rather than being backlogged because you're so damn busy? Just wondering. <g>

Lefty
04-06-2013, 08:55 PM
I think this is a testament to the amazing members here, and the incredible community we have made here. I actually limit my listings, sharpening jobs, etc, so I can keep up with my orders. It's a catch 22, however, because the less new product I have the less people stay interested...anywho.

Dave, this is a wise decision, on your part. Jon, I wish you luck....

Dream Burls
04-06-2013, 09:01 PM
I think this is a testament to the amazing members here, and the incredible community we have made here. I actually limit my listings, sharpening jobs, etc, so I can keep up with my orders. It's a catch 22, however, because the less new product I have the less people stay interested...anywho.

Dave, this is a wise decision, on your part. Jon, I wish you luck....

I agree. I also think it's a testament to the fact that kitchen knives is the fastest growing segment of the market. Yeah, being too busy with orders is the kind of problem we should all have.

Justin0505
04-06-2013, 09:07 PM
I'm glad you hear you at least have a plan to structure your business in a more manageable way Dave.

FWIW, I have come to expect a long wait 1-2ys or more on work from top-tier individual makers (your knives fall into that "best of the best" category).

I think that what you want to avoid doing is over promising and under delivering. If you think that your wait list is at 1yr and then completion once started is going to take another month, then give an estimated of 18 months; not 13. Pad your estimates with enough breathing room that you can breath and **** can happen without throwing you into frantic behind schedule mode.

Set expectations that are reasonable up front and explain them to your potential customers. If answering individual update emails is killing you, then set the expectation that you will not give individual waitlist updates on an adhoc basis, but will just post regular status updates ever month or send out scheduled individual updates once every quarter or something.

Figure out what it manageable and sustainable for you, lay it out clearly and up front, and I think people will be / stay happy (and if not, they can piss off and make room for someone else on the waitlist).

bikehunter
04-06-2013, 09:11 PM
Yeah, being too busy with orders is the kind of problem we should all have.

This was my point. I, of course, have nothing but best wishes from those on the forum, but this struck me as just a little too much complaint and not quite enough gratefulness for what clearly has become an extremely successful endeavor. Just sayin'.

Dave Martell
04-07-2013, 12:08 AM
Bike, if you think I'm complaining then I've failed in my message. You couldn't find a more grateful person than myself and I'm sure Jon is the same. It's just that it can be frustrating trying to make anyone happy when trying to make everyone happy, it takes the wind out of your sails to never meet the demand.

bikehunter
04-07-2013, 12:25 AM
I obviously read something into it which wasn't there, I apologize.

Dave Martell
04-07-2013, 12:27 AM
I obviously read something into it which wasn't there, I apologize.


No need for an apology, I can see where you're coming from, I think my message was at fault here.

ThEoRy
04-07-2013, 01:10 AM
Glad to see you're back on track there. Hopefully with the sale of the site you can focus on making knives again.


I always like the "What's on the bench" threads or like Stefan's spread sheet so you can see where you are at on the list. Maybe you can post something like that up again just so peeps can see where things are relatively at in the way of progress. I always get excited when someone ahead of me gets moved off the list even if I'm still a ways out. It's still one closer than before!! :D

zitangy
04-07-2013, 05:18 AM
I'm glad you hear you at least have a plan to structure your business in a more manageable way Dave.

FWIW, I have come to expect a long wait 1-2ys or more on work from top-tier individual makers (your knives fall into that "best of the best" category).

I think that what you want to avoid doing is over promising and under delivering. If you think that your wait list is at 1yr and then completion once started is going to take another month, then give an estimated of 18 months; not 13. Pad your estimates with enough breathing room that you can breath and **** can happen without throwing you into frantic behind schedule mode.

Set expectations that are reasonable up front and explain them to your potential customers. If answering individual update emails is killing you, then set the expectation that you will not give individual waitlist updates on an adhoc basis, but will just post regular status updates ever month or send out scheduled individual updates once every quarter or something.

Figure out what it manageable and sustainable for you, lay it out clearly and up front, and I think people will be / stay happy (and if not, they can piss off and make room for someone else on the waitlist).

Makes sense Justin> you have to manage expectations. In a gist.. offer/ promise less so that that you can over deliver. Its a big difference in perception. I day late is one date late. IF it is one day earlier.. the preception is vastly different.. efficient, what a service! etc. IF you " over deliver" it is always a pleasant surprise!

AS a business owner, if you have to do everything by yourself.. it takes away from activities that generates revenues. We also have to farm out or do away what is not productive and if it is still essential to teh business, employ someone that can do it for you so that you continue to do higher income generating revenue. IF only 2 Stephan handles or 4 knife sharpening per day can pay for an assistant... why not?

It is very obvious that Knife making adn related activities is yr passion adn being a founder and chief administrator of a very visible and successful Forum can be fun, we only have a certain number of hours per day to do work.. adn something must go....

Continue having fun in yr endeavors adn stay sharp....

RGds
d

jimbob
04-07-2013, 05:50 AM
mmmmm, knife experts assistant. Ill do it!

wenus2
04-07-2013, 06:03 AM
Yeah right, Dave's waay too much of a perfectionist. You'd have to be crazy to take that on Jimbob :sad0:
I'll buy his stuff, for sure. But, try to work up to his expectations? No thanks.:no:

Keep doin what you do Dave. Keep the quality high and charge accordingly, they will continue to to come if you keep building it.:hungry:

The BoardSMITH
04-07-2013, 09:09 AM
I know I will get nailed here but, here goes.

Each day I spend at least an hour on the phone and maybe another hour or two answering emails. When I get a call I have to stop what I am doing, turn off the dust collector and any machines that are running so I can hear the caller plainly, then spend time on the phone listening and discussing what the caller wants. (One lady from Maine rambled off to an anti-semite rant one day which I tried hard to stop but she was relentless.) If I don't discuss the issue at length, politely and with full explainations then I would be considered unfriendly and unhelpful and I would be rated as such on a forum. Now don't get me wrong, I don't mind talking to callers or answering emails, I enjoy talking and some of the callers are delightful and I always try to make time. But it still stops the process I am working on.

What Dave is trying to say politely is that working for yourself is a tough road to travel which is why so few try it and why even fewer succeed. I'm sure their day is like mine to some extent, up at 5am, writing orders and answering emails, planning out the day and generally doing those chores that are required before I ever get in the shower and go to the shop. I am usually in the shop at 8am or earlier, I leave usually later than 5pm unless I have errands to run like going to Lowes to pick up glue or sandpaper on the way home or get a load of boxes to UPS before they close the terminal office at 6pm. Then I get a few minutes prior to supper to rest a little, have supper then back to the home office to check emails and web site inquiries, do the books and generally keep up with the days business which takes until 8 to 10pm every night. Then back up at 5 and start all over again. I'm sure the others here on KKF who manufacture things face the same type of day and maybe more.

Still we have to face the customer who wants to talk about having to wait for more time than what they think is acceptable and even go as far as to tell us how to make what they are trying to describe. But to make a cutting board, or a knife, install a handle, sharpen a knife or whatever then endeavor, it takes time to do it properly and with the craft expected. If the quality is less than expected, then we are fussed at either privately or publically on this or other forums.

Dave does a splendid job with his work. He recently gave his "spa" treatment to a knife of mine and it was more than worth the wait which I have bragged about to my customers. Jon is a first-rate knife expert and I am more than happy to recommend him to others and do so as often as I can. I also know of the quality some of the other makers here put into their knives having seen them up close and personal and have no reluctance in recommending them to those customers I speak with. And if you order from Kramer, expect at least a years wait which some are very willing to do.

The short take on this is, we as self-employed are working hard to fill orders and all the other chores that are required as quickly as we can while keeping the quality and craft as high as possible.

Dream Burls
04-07-2013, 09:43 AM
Great post Dave. I think your presentation of your typical day speaks right to the point. You guys do as much as is physically possible, sometimes at great sacrifice, to put out a great product and keep the customers satisfied. The fact is, the better you are at your job the more people will want your product and there are only so many hours in the day. It's a good news, bad new situation. Good to be busy, bad to have lag times that you're not comfortable with. Compounding this is that the internet and companies like Amazon provide an almost instant gratification that consumers start to expect. Of course, hand crafted merchandise falls into a different category than ordering a coffee maker, but people's expectations are formed by their experiences. And that might be the key: managing expectations.

As Dave said "working for yourself is a tough road to travel". I, for one, am very grateful you guys have made that decision.

statusquo
04-07-2013, 11:56 AM
It is nice to get the vendor's pov to understand the challenges involved. From a client perspective it is about managing expectations. Client's are very understanding about wait times, but once money changes hands these expectations inevitably increase. Communication becomes a big part of this and goes a LONG way, in establishing the expectations and particularly if the expectations are not met. I am not waiting on anything from JKS btw, just sharing my experiences from other customs.

heldentenor
04-07-2013, 07:43 PM
I tell my students the same thing, Dave and David: every email I need to respond to asking a question that you are capable of answering for yourself is time I don't have to return work more quickly or refine the quality of my courses. I can't put my day on hold, so something has to give.

That said, I try hard to remember the flip side: I have the freedom to structure my day so that I do certain things when I'm best prepared to do them, and I can take break from one task when it gets to be too mind-numbing and switch to something else. As someone whose profession is increasingly a game of "customer" expectations, though, you guys certainly have my sympathy and my respect.

JBroida
04-07-2013, 08:28 PM
yeah... not complaining, but we always feel bad when we're 12 days behind in e-mails and week behind in sharpening... its not a good feeling.

NO ChoP!
04-07-2013, 11:24 PM
Owning and running restaurants has a peculiar way of sucking up your life...I think you guys are singing to the choir here.

I, by the way, didn't take it as complaining, rather relating the feeling of being weeded...thriving in the weeds reveals a true master of his craft.

mr drinky
04-08-2013, 11:51 PM
I sometimes feel bad when I contact the vendors with questions and PM them. I especially feel bad when I have drunk too much and they are forced to take me seriously ;) Sorry Dave. I apologize for all those times in the past -- and all those times yet to come in the future.

k.

Dave Martell
04-09-2013, 12:07 AM
You're OK Drinky! :biggrin:

Dave Martell
04-09-2013, 10:59 PM
I've been busting my hump working down my pile O' sharpening that gathered during the sale & PC crash. I think I've got another couple of days there and then it's back to the more serious knife work.

Drumjockey
04-09-2013, 11:24 PM
I'm glad you hear you at least have a plan to structure your business in a more manageable way Dave.


Figure out what it manageable and sustainable for you, lay it out clearly and up front, and I think people will be / stay happy (and if not, they can piss off and make room for someone else on the waitlist).
I completely agree- at some point a vendor of any type just has to do what they can and let the blocks (scales?) fall where they may. You can't please everybody- by which I mean, somebody somewhere is going to find a way to be pissed off about something, no matter how hard you bend over backwards to accomodate. Setting limits is critical in a business setting; you just can't ever do all the things you can think of to do, in a single day. Trust me, I still try... I'm just aware of the fact that I'm going to fail. It doesn't bother me anymore, so long as I keep getting up every day and take a good swing at it:) At the same time, communicating and making sure the customer knows exactly what is going to happen with a given transaction can solve most problems before they exist. Most importantly- take time to relax you guys, everyone needs it (I'm such a hypocrite, I never stop either). We appreciate you!!

Delbert Ealy
04-10-2013, 08:59 PM
I am right there with you Dave, I just spent 2 days working on getting the taxes done(at least I'm in before the deadline) without going into the shop except to fish for reciepts. Last night I went to be thinking "I feel like there is something missing, oh yeah I didn't do any work today. I have been forcing myself to take sundays off to spend some time with my family, but when I am behind its really hard to stay out of the shop even then. If I work one anyways about wednesday I get the blues and everything starts to take longer. Thanks for all your support guys.
Dave, just do what you can Buddy.
Del

SameGuy
04-11-2013, 04:57 AM
swamped doesnt even begin to cover it :(

Slowly catching up... answered e-mails for about 10 hours straight yesterday
I really do appreciate the time you were able to spend with me last week, one-on-one, in your incredible shop. I can't wait to stop by again for a real tutorial (which of course would mean checked bags ;)). BTW, Seoul and Panmunjeom (JSA) were awesome.

sudsy9977
04-12-2013, 11:52 PM
So the big question here I guess is.....does this mean my stuff isn't any closer to being done???????....ryan

Dave Martell
04-12-2013, 11:54 PM
So the big question here I guess is.....does this mean my stuff isn't any closer to being done???????....ryan


Your stuff is always getting closer.... :D

joetbn
04-13-2013, 03:15 PM
Dave,

I'm glad you're so busy, just more evidence that you do great work. If I ever come off as impatient, I'm sorry.

-Joe

Dave Martell
04-13-2013, 03:19 PM
Dave,

I'm glad you're so busy, just more evidence that you do great work. If I ever come off as impatient, I'm sorry.

-Joe


Joe the brass man?

joetbn
04-13-2013, 03:46 PM
Yep, that's me. Still a trombone player first, but working mostly as a sound engineer these days. I'm currently mixing CD's for 4 bands that all want them done now, and I'm also mixing live sound at a club 5 nights a week, and trying to find time to practice my horn too. So I know how you feel a little.

Come to think of it, it might be best that I don't have a really sharp knife in my hands right now - take your time. :knife:

Dave Martell
04-13-2013, 04:43 PM
You sound way busier than me Joe. :)