Ed Bennett-Where are you?

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wrote:

snip...
Jesus, Ed, apparently, I offended you. Sorry you're upset, but I gotta stick with this one.
All I said was the man outta get off a few bucks to put some grandma on the phone and the emails, y'know? _One._ Not "a staff," just one.
It's called common courtesy. You got a product people want, you outta make a way for them to contact you if you want to sell 'em.
His "cash flow", "debt load", and "manufacturing capacity" have nothing to do with it. If you have enough business to generate the _need_ for a phone person, you've got enough business to hire one.
What's the alternative-- what happened _here?_ Would you want a customer of _yours_ to have to go cruising a fricking _newsgroup_ to find _you?_
Michael
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Michael Baglio @nc.rr.com> wrote:

Sorry Michael, but it has EVERYTHING to do with it. Especially the cash flor. The business plan for a big corporation is far from that of a one man shop. Evidently you have little or no experience with them or you would understand. I've had my own small business as well as helped start a couple of others. Hiring that first person is a BIG decision and is much more costly that you may think.
I will concede that an answering machine may be a good idea, but since neither you nor I knows how many calls a day Ed gets, we cannot assume he needs to hire someone. I think you have big corporate ideas that are far different that tiny shop marketing.
--
Ed
snipped-for-privacy@snet.net
http://pages.cthome.net/edhome
  Click to see the full signature.
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wrote:

snip
No, I have a lot of experience with very small companies. What I don't have, apparently, (since KB pointed it out), is nearly enough experience posting my opinion without sounding like an asshole.
I apologize.
Michael
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"Michael Baglio

You know Michael, you seem to be the only one disturbed by Eds problem. Everyone else, especially those who have been around here for years, understands and is not the least bothered by it. ...lew...
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Hi All,
Someone alerted me to this thread. To answer the subject question: I'm right here. Always have been. Always will be! ;-) I should be in the shop but it's probably not a bad idea to address some of these issues to a broad audience. So, here goes...it's gonna be long.
BTW, I'm not picking on you Michael, it just seems like this particular message has the questions that need answering.
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Well Said
Ed Bennett wrote:

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On 29 Jan 2004 18:12:46 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@ts-aligner.com (Ed Bennett) wrote:

...
snip of description of challenges of running a small business...
Ed, It's been pointed out to me that my OP came off as arrogant. They were right, I was wrong. I apologize for my tone. It _was_ pretty ugly.
Where we differ, I think, is that I (who _have_ run a small business for most of my life), believe that having a person who is knowledgable about the business manning the phones, (the first and most important line of communication with the public), is as integral a part of the cost of doing business as the cost of a roof over my head and food for my kids.
I believe that if I can't afford that, then I must adjust my pricing to reflect it's cost.
When I said that "cash flow, etc" had nothing to do with it, it was from that viewpoint: that certain items _must_ be factored into the retail price of a product, and for me a phone person is that important.
Since you mentioned several attempts at filling that need, I suspect you feel pretty much the same way, and would like to improve the situation if you could. If so;
You mentioned Steve's hours. Couldn't that be handled by a recording during his "off" times, indicating to callers when the appropriate time is to call? I don't know, but it seems like it would help people understand precisely that you're _not_ a big multinationalconglomerate and have a small staff appropriate to the size of your company.
Finally, I get a real sense from everyone here that you're one of the few people left who believes so much in his product that you're putting in an ungodly amount of your own hours on the making of it. And, congrats, you're selling them pretty much about as quickly as you can make them, so how much is it costing you for _you_ to be doing the front-line communication? Again, I really do know about the pains of growing small businesses, and one of the lessons I learned was that every minute I put in doing things like answering phones and (really) cleaning the bathrooms was time I wasn't putting into getting more business and filling orders for the business I had.
Everybody gets to run his business the way he sees fit, and I'm _all_ for you being hugely successful. I see things a bit differently than you, I guess, vive la differance.
I just got jerky-kneed when I saw one of your customers looking for you _here._ Sorry I came off as a poopy-head.
Michael
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"Michael Baglio @nc.rr.com>" <mbaglio<NOSPAM> wrote in message

And you openly admitted it. I have to respect you for that. Thanks, Ed
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On Fri, 30 Jan 2004 04:59:19 GMT, Michael Baglio

Michael, I don't think you were a "poopy-head." I felt and still feel the same way as you did. A customer who sent money and has not received a product in a reasonable amount of time should not have to what amounts to opening a window and yelling out to find out what's going on.
Yes, there are a lot of problems running a small business especially if it has a growth spurt. But, at some point one has to decide if they're running a business or a hobby.
Something as simple as preparing a standardized response to "where is my aligner" queries would be helpful. Hit reply, paste in the response, and hit send is a lot better than hand typing or no reply at all. Business loans are an accepted way of handling cash flow problems.
It would serve Ed well to contact his local Small Business Administration people for advice. Many SBAs have a roster of volunteer retired business people who will help analyze problems and develop strategies.
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Cape Cod Bob writes:

A growth spurt and a spurt in sales are not necessarily the same thing. It is up to the business owner to decide which he's got. Ed did.

Sometimes. Sometimes not. You don't know his financial structure.

In his spare time. Might be an idea there, when he catches up, which he said he was on the way to doing.
Part of Ed's problem is his commitment, almost an over-commitment, to quality. That makes it damned near impossible to find someone willing to commit the same level of work to his goals. Be grateful, if you ever buy a TS-Aligner. It works, it works easily, it works well, and it will work for your great grandchildren unless you drop the parts on concrete.
Charlie Self "All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure." Mark Twain http://hometown.aol.com/charliediy/myhomepage/business.html
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On 29 Jan 2004 18:12:46 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@ts-aligner.com (Ed Bennett) wrote:

This is not a big deal, but if I hadn't have gotten a reply to my email when I did, over a week-and-a-half after I sent the email, I would have cancelled the PayPal order, if that's possible.
I did try calling, twice on your 800 line, and twice on your direct line. I called during your normal business hours. The attempts were spaced hours apart. All four times the phone just rang, and rang...They were not picked up by either a person or an answering machine. This lack of response made me worry that I had spent a significant part of my limited woodworking budget on a product no longer being made. Moreover it brought up worries about what would happen if I have a question about using your product, assuming that I would recieve your product. Your website says something along the lines of: Most PayPal orders are shipped next day. If this changes, the website should be changed, or, at the least, you should have an informative message on an answering machine. That's just my opinion, of course.
-Peter De Smidt
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Peter,
Thanks for letting me know about this.
Ed.
(Ed Bennett) wrote:

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I think the last part of your post was correct. I've seen Ed's work and I make things like this myself. He is offering them at a very good price.
"Michael Baglio @nc.rr.com>" <mbaglio<NOSPAM> wrote in message

I'm
just
run
in
to
do
apologize
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Hopefully, nothing bad has happened to Mr. Bennett. If it's just that he's busy, then I'm not very sympathetic. He should then say so on his website. At the moment he says that most PayPal orders ship the next day. If I knew up front that it might take 3 weeks to get his product, I wouldn't mind. But that fact is that now I don't even know if he's still in business. What happens if I have a question down the road? Will he be too busy to talk to me? I agree with the poster that said that Mr. Bennett should pay someone a minimal amount to keep up with answer emails. If he's so busy, he should be able to afford to do so.
-Peter De Smidt
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Peter De Smidt wrote:

IIRC, Ed's operation is a one man thing and he also participates in the woodworking shows. There was a show in Indianapolis this weekend. Perhaps he's out of town?
-- Jack Novak Buffalo, NY - USA (Remove "SPAM" from email address to reply)
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Fair! Setting expectations up-front is a golden rule.
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wrote:

Glad you finally get the picture on what's really important here. I'll have to check the time stamps, but for now I'll assume this was posted _after_ you made the smarty-pantsed remark to me about the MBA.
Michael
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"Michael Baglio @nc.rr.com>" <mbaglio<NOSPAM> wrote in message

Yes.
No - you wanted Ed to hire someone to "man" the phone/emails. I'm saying Ed needs to update the Web site, auto-responder (phone-messages, whatever) to let people know that he's behind on fulfillment. And tell them when the expected ship date would be.
I don't think we discussed it - but I'd guess you and I are in complete agreement that once an order is taken, it's of paramount importance to keep your customers informed of progress. I hate ordering into Black Holes. "FonCentral.com" was my last black-hole experience.
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Ed emailed me tonight. He's a few weeks behind but he says that he's catching up fast. I certainly don't mind waiting as long as I know what's going on.
-Peter
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You won't be sorry for waiting. I have the TS Aligner Jr. It is a great tool. One of these days, I want to order a set of precision angle blocks from Ed. (I did get a 45 degree block when I got the TS Jr.)
Grant
Peter De Smidt wrote:

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