Friday, November 14, 2008

My Petty, Petty Pet Peeve

For those of you that don't know, my job is Paco Collars. I founded it, own it, run it, make the product, advertise, eat, sleep and breathe it. Yes, I get a lot of help from a lot of people, but when when the feces hit the fan, it all comes back on me. I try to leave work out of this blog, but sometimes something happens that crosses the line and hurts my feelings personally...

So I'm in the middle of an e-mail correspondence with a potential customer (I do a hefty chunk of the customer service). They tell me about their dog, what collar they're envisioning, what customization they need, etc. We go back and forth until we come up with a piece that is both going to make the dog look amazing and the customer very happy.

"Great!" they say, "thanks for your help! I'm going to go put my order in through XXX store now!"


It's kind of like saying, "Wow. That sure was a great 3 dates we just went on. And thanks for the dress. I'm going to wear it every time me and my husband go out." Wait a minute, what husband? You seem to have left something pretty major out of the conversation from the get-go.

But that's just my personal butt-hurt. It hurts financially as well. Let me explain:

Say it costs us X to make a collar. We then mark it up a certain percentage to cover additional costs and maybe a little profit. That's the "wholesale" price. Let's call it W. Stores buy it from us for W and then "keystone" or double it. The end result is that the customer sees the same product for the same price (2W) everywhere they look. If they buy the product from us, we make the W. If they buy it from the store, the store gets the W.

Now, we're a teeny tiny company. Each order means a lot to us. That W means the difference between someone getting their full paycheck or us being able to afford a new printer cartridge. We make a little money off store orders, but not very much. And depending on the terms, sometimes we don't see payment from the store until a month after the customer gets it. Sometimes stores are forgetful and we need to track them down and bill them repeatedly. Sometimes we don't see that money for 6 months. Sometimes, by the time we actually get the money, we've spent so many hours trying to get our money that we end up losing money in the long run.

Sometimes we don't see the money at all.

So when a customer tells me, after a lengthy e-mail correspondence, that they are now going to make their order through XXX store that currently has an outstanding balance with us, it's kind of like saying:

"By the way, I'll not only be wearing that dress out with my husband, but I also kind of accidently took the cash out of your wallet while you're weren't looking. You're the best!"

Moral of the story: if you're going to go through the trouble of tracking us down and establishing a relationship, just order through us. If you intend to order through a store, have them ask us the questions so we can help educate them in the process.

End of petty rant.


Bennett Samuel Lin said...

Why can't you just tell them politely that after having walked them step by step through the whole process, you would prefer that they place the order directly through you? I think most people understand the idea of a sales commission, so perhaps that's all it will take for them to figure out what you're driving at.

ana poe said...

Because, Bennett, I am a chicken shit and hate sounding greedy.

Perhaps I will contemplate more subtle ways of wording (although I don't know how much more subtle you can get than,"When you place the order through the website, tell us ____ in the 'notes' section during check-out").