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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You're OK Drinky! :biggrin:
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.
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!!
Originally Posted by Justin0505