February 24, 2010

Your waitlist questions – answered

Got a couple of questions about the waitlist that I thought I’d address here (warning, content to follow is very boring, no pictures).

-“Why does your waitlist say 6 months? There are like 10 people on it, and if you do one frame/week, that means it should only be 10 weeks!”

3 reasons. First, the one frame/week is when I’m actually here – sometimes I go on vacation for whatever reason (in case anyone was confused, I did not pick this occupation to get rich). So recently, for example, I was off for almost 3 weeks for the holidays and a trip to Arizona. And yes, I could probably put my nose to the grindstone and build faster – but I’ve found that if I rush through things, I don’t have much fun (nor do I get to ride or socialize much) and I tend to do a crap job. That’s not what anyone wants.

Second, my design and construction time isn’t the only factor in how long you’ll wait for your frame – the powdercoater can take anywhere from 1-5 weeks (though 1-2 weeks is normal) and shipping can take several days/up to a week as well. So add that time.

Finally, I don’t like to promise something I can’t deliver. If you look at the waitlist (as of today, 2/24/10), you’ll notice that the bikes at the powdercoater were ordered on 10/9/09 and 10/20/09. So assuming they’re done by the end of the month, and take one week to ship, we’ll be at about 5 months total wait time (from deposit to the box dropped off at the front door). I’d say that’s about typical – I’m 1-2 months ahead of schedule most of the time.

Of course, there are plenty of cases where something goes wrong (I screw up, powdercoater screws up, FedEx screws up, family emergency, whatever) and having that extra month or so of spare time can be very helpful in those cases. I *hate* failing to deliver on time, so I like to be very, very conservative about making delivery promises. The custom bike world is full of stories of bikes delivered months (or even years) late, or not at all – I don’t want to add any involving me to that extensive canon if I can help it.

Finally (I guess this is reason 3.5) I’ve found that if I have a long waitlist, and am upfront about how long it will take to get a customer her bike, I get much better (more patient, less crazy) customers who are fun to deal with and understanding if something is delayed. Cool people who plan ahead and don’t mind waiting for what they want, many of whom end up becoming friends, are exactly the kind of people I want to build for. If I promised 3 months, and it took 5 or 6, I would get annoying, hurried customers who would end up unhappy. So I try to underpromise and overdeliver. It’s that simple.