PDA

View Full Version : How could we of handled this better?


ParallaxTactical.com
10-16-2010, 7:55 PM
We had a customer come in about 2 months ago and ordered a complete DPMS 308 upper. At that time we just started to do 7.62x51 builds. We put in purchase orders with about 4 to 5 different vendors for parts.

A set of barrels came in but were for another customer, and I messed up when I called this customer and told him his barrel was ready when it was instead for another customer before him. I called and explained the situation and relayed him what was told to me about the shortages of barrels.

Slowly the parts came in because of shortages on 7.62x51 stuff and we collected the parts in the bin. By a month or so later everything was ready except the barrel.

So we kept calling the barrel makers to get statuses almost daily, with no response as they were busy with a large contract they got shortly after we put in our purchase order putting us in last place.

Today the customer called and was very angry that his build wasn't finished. I apologized and explained what had happened, but he accused us of not communicating properly, the barrel mixup before (that we gave his barrel to someone else.) Also not to mention that his lower receiver was past the 30 day mark and we told him that he had to re-DROS it.

He gave us a deadline of a week to get a barrel or refund his entire order, which I have no problem doing (we gave him a killer deal, about 10% markup. Even lower margin.)

Did we drop the ball? How can we handle this better in the future?

I offered to order in a barrel from a different maker and that it would be more expensive, but he refused and wanted us to eat the cost of a different barrel. (We would lose money on the whole deal.)

P.S.: We've halted all special orders on 7.62x51 builds because of the barrel wait times.

G-forceJunkie
10-16-2010, 8:59 PM
The only think I see that could be improved is communication. A weekly status call goes a long way when dealing with situations like this. You found time to call the barrel maker, find time to call the customer. I deal with it all the time at my job due to similar situations: parts not coming in from vendors, jobs taking longer than expected, etc. The customers understand as long as they are kept in the loop and up to date.

Shady
10-16-2010, 9:08 PM
dude
I feel for you

these days estimated deadlines are really hard to accomplish
for about a year now I have been giving my customers
times twice as long as I used to , and even then sometimes its hard to meet them
when you are ordering parts from many places it is extremely rare to get everything
on time . there will always be one companant that is backordered or out of stock etc.etc.

its really hard to keep EVERYONE happy when dealing
with a large amount of customers and CUSTOM work

customers expectations exceed reality regularly
Im sure you will see him again in the future
they usually forget once they get it into there hot little hands

jtmkinsd
10-16-2010, 9:20 PM
Why couldn't he come in, pick up his lower, then turn around and give it back to you to finish to avoid the re-DROS??? Did you give a courtesy call to let him know the 30 day deadline was approaching? I've gotten to the point where I tell everyone if they want to DROS a firearm and I don't have it in my hands, or I'm waiting on parts, they are voluntarily running the risk of having to do paperwork again, and paying the DROS fee. That should be up front knowledge you give the customer. And remind them the finish date is an estimate based on parts availability.

stitchnicklas
10-16-2010, 11:59 PM
make some policy changes to cover unforeseen circumstances and have a form drawn up stipulating that the customer realizes and agrees to this factor.

have him take possession of the lower next time in order eliminate the dros problem.

bjl333
10-17-2010, 12:24 AM
I have found in 25+ years in sales, it is almost impossible to have a 100% customer satisfaction. I am sure everybody tries but rarely happens. My suggestion would be to sell only what you have in stock. This might cut down your business profit, but it'll insure 100% satisfaction. The special orders you can have them sign a contract giving them an estimated delivery date, but stating parts deliveries are not in your control. The contract should also state a cancellation fee of 10-20%, no matter the reason.

In your case on hand I would probably give him a free upgrade on barrel. There were mix ups that were not his fault. The difference in barrel cost shouldn't be more then a hundred bucks. The lower should've been picked up by the customer and checked back in as a repair. To have the customer re-dros is a little overboard imo.

Good Luck !! To me the fact you are asking is a good sign for a Vendor, but the answer should've been obvious in this case. My vote: Give him the barrel upgrade.

Cokebottle
10-17-2010, 1:37 AM
No parts is no parts.

Now, on the lower, I would not have started the initial DROS until the barrel was in-hand, or have asked the customer to come in and take delivery of his lower to avoid having to re-DROS.
Given how it went down, I'd be inclined to say that you should eat the $25 if it goes over 30 days... but if he has some time left, I'd see if he's open to holding the lower himself until you have the parts to complete the build.

ParallaxTactical.com
10-17-2010, 1:41 AM
I have no problem eating the $25 on the DROS. We stamp every receipt for firearms with a pickup date. You guys are right on the 30 days thing, I will start putting that on the receipt. The biggest dilemma is that we gave him too good of a deal, we are making about $125 on the whole thing since he was one of the 1st 308 builds and we wanted to give it a try.

I will call the customer on Monday and write him a check for the whole build plus interest (10% APR) and sell the parts. Does this sound fair?

halifax
10-17-2010, 4:38 AM
You have no complete upper to attach while you wait for his build to be completed? Nothing? Forget about the profit at this point if you want to keep the customer from bad-mouthing your business. Beg, borrow, or steal a complete upper and let him use it while he waits. Shooting will take his mind off the problem.

Good luck.

(In the future don't pre-sell what you can't guaranty delivery on.)

kemasa
10-17-2010, 8:00 AM
One of the first things is to ensure that you don't accidentally call again saying that his parts were all in, when it really was not for that person. It is a good idea to have both dates on the receipt and to also go over those dates with the customer each and every time.

The biggest problem is one of expectations. As one person told me, set expectations at zero and then exceed them. I would tell him that he can come get a refund, but not mention the interest, then surprise him with that. I don't think that you owe him 10% interest, but it is nice to do. If you tell him up front, then he will be expecting that and perhaps more.

I don't think you really did anything wrong, except for the incorrect call. Many things are out of your hands when you order items. Again, with ordering items you need to set expectations so that if things take longer, as is often the case, that the person understands that. You could pay for the barrel upgrade and while it might cost you some money, it could be better than not doing it, but realize that this customer might be unhappy regardless of what you do in this case.

tenpercentfirearms
10-17-2010, 9:31 AM
This is why I never back order anything. There is no way in the gun business you can ever predict with accuracy how long it is going to take to get parts.

As soon as you back order something for a customer, they then expect it. Whether you have it or not and whether it is is within your control means nothing. They want it.

So then they start calling you over and over again to see the status of their product. Or as was pointed out here, if you were a good gun dealer you would call them and let them know the status. As all gun dealers know, you have enough to do without having to call customers and tell them nothing knew is going on.

And you made the mistake of selling it for only like 10% profit. You back ordered it for pennies and it certainly isn't worth the hassle.

Refund the guy his money, but don't cancel the order. When the parts finally come in, put it together and then sell it ready to go to someone for a nice profit.

And yes, with customers like this, you should have signed the gun out to him and then taken it right back into your gunsmithing book. It avoids a re-DROS.

Being in the gun business is a learning process. You will get it figured out.

kemasa
10-17-2010, 9:53 AM
If you don't back order items, then customers will complain as well. They don't want to have to keep checking to see when some item is available.

The bottom line is that you can't win.

jtmkinsd
10-17-2010, 9:56 AM
If you don't back order items, then customers will complain as well. They don't want to have to keep checking to see when some item is available.

The bottom line is that you can't win.

In general customers can't even stand the 10 day wait on what's in the shop...let alone waiting an "undetermined" amount of time for what they want...so no, you can't win is correct :(

Unfortunately the learning curve in the industry almost always equals a loss of revenue and/or costs you have to eat.

Gryff
10-17-2010, 11:06 AM
I have found in 25+ years in sales, it is almost impossible to have a 100% customer satisfaction. I am sure everybody tries but rarely happens. My suggestion would be to sell only what you have in stock. This might cut down your business profit, but it'll insure 100% satisfaction. The special orders you can have them sign a contract giving them an estimated delivery date, but stating parts deliveries are not in your control. The contract should also state a cancellation fee of 10-20%, no matter the reason.

In your case on hand I would probably give him a free upgrade on barrel. There were mix ups that were not his fault. The difference in barrel cost shouldn't be more then a hundred bucks. The lower should've been picked up by the customer and checked back in as a repair. To have the customer re-dros is a little overboard imo.

I agree with this posting fully. Your mistake severely delayed the customer receiving his item. It is not unreasonable for the customer to expect some level of recompense for the delay, and most customers don't consider a full refund acceptable since it is, in effect, demonstrating that you failed at providing the product. Net result is negative satisfaction.

If the alternate barrel is more expensive, you should try to find a way to eat the difference, especially if the amount is sub-$100. Refusing to do so makes you look cheap and petty. If the price difference is more than $100, then offer to pay as much of the difference as you can. Or offer other things...mags, optics discounts, stock upgrade...look around and see what stuff you have on hand that you can work with.

Most customers simply want to know that you feel their pain, and become more understanding when they get the sense that you really care and want to do what you can to make things right.

None of this is intended to be harsh or judgmental. Just offering input.

jtmkinsd
10-17-2010, 11:31 AM
I would agree if he actually got the barrel that was intended for this particular customer...but he didn't. He simply misidentified a barrel which was a different customer's barrel. The delay would be the same no matter what...it does suck telling someone their stuff is in, then having to call them back and say "oops"...but it's a learning experience...as seems all the rage in the media these days...it's a "teachable moment" :rolleyes:

bjl333
10-17-2010, 8:23 PM
I would agree if he actually got the barrel that was intended for this particular customer...but he didn't. He simply misidentified a barrel which was a different customer's barrel. The delay would be the same no matter what...it does suck telling someone their stuff is in, then having to call them back and say "oops"...but it's a learning experience...as seems all the rage in the media these days...it's a "teachable moment" :rolleyes:

We know the barrel belongs to a different customer. Sometimes a faux happy is worst then just waiting it out.

YOU'VE WON THE LOTTO !!! Ooopss, Sorry I had you mixed up with another guy !!

tenpercentfirearms
10-17-2010, 8:26 PM
If you don't back order items, then customers will complain as well. They don't want to have to keep checking to see when some item is available.

The bottom line is that you can't win.

If customers complain about not back ordering, I never hear it. I have guys ask me here and there if something I put on my Acusport wish list came in yet or not. That is not bad at all and that is why I don't take their money.

And that is another good point. You can always back order an item, but don't take the customer's money. Just tell them they have a no obligation hold on it when it comes in. If they find it somewhere else while waiting, no big deal, sell it to someone else.

I think the key is not getting pinned down to something you have zero control over. That is where you are setting yourself up for failure when the inevitable delay occurs.

Capt. Speirs
10-18-2010, 8:13 AM
If customers complain about not back ordering, I never hear it. I have guys ask me here and there if something I put on my Acusport wish list came in yet or not. That is not bad at all and that is why I don't take their money.

And that is another good point. You can always back order an item, but don't take the customer's money. Just tell them they have a no obligation hold on it when it comes in. If they find it somewhere else while waiting, no big deal, sell it to someone else.

I think the key is not getting pinned down to something you have zero control over. That is where you are setting yourself up for failure when the inevitable delay occurs.

I agree with back ordering and not taking the money till it arrives. If you take too many deposits on credit cards and the customers complain to the credit card company, you could loose your merchant account.

Rekrab
10-18-2010, 10:21 AM
I'm not an FFL, but from a customer's perspective a full refund plus interest wouldn't make me happy. It would satisfy me, but I wouldn't be recommending you to my friends or anyone I talked to online. If you're already committed to refunding him +10% then I'd just eat the cost of a replacement barrel that you can get immediately of equal or greater value. Finally, if he has to re-DROS you should eat that as well. Chalk it all up as a learning experience for you, don't punish your customer. You might make little or no money on the build, but you shouldn't punish the customer for that.

In sales it's always a good idea to make sure you're not held liable if things go wrong. Next time you do a custom build make sure you give an estimated time of delivery with the caveat that build times may be greater than initially quoted because of problems with your suppliers. Make sure they sign something in writing agreeing to this. After that, make sure you give regular status updates to your customers. Good communication can, in my opinion, turn a good FFL into an excellent FFL that I will recommend to everyone.

ParallaxTactical.com
10-18-2010, 11:05 AM
Thanks for all your comments, it has really proved insightful.

The reason we took a deposit on his build because it was one of the first AR-308 style builds that we did because we did not stock AR-308 anything. Otherwise we would have just taken a half deposit like we normally do. I think we learned our lesson and have started ordering barrels from multiple suppliers and even might be going into our own designs/barrels to prevent this from happening in the future.

The main problem was our barrel maker telling us that the delay was shorter than it actually is/not calling us back, etc.

As said earlier, it's pretty tough to call customers about their orders when it's busy in-store only to tell them nothing has changed.

ParallaxTactical.com
10-18-2010, 11:14 AM
I will be calling the customer today to give him four resolutions:

1) Wait a little bit longer for a different barrel from DPMS (closest to his custom order)

2) Refund of the barrel, give his other parts at cost

3) Refund of his order and free re-DROS of the receiver

4) Order a different barrel from a local vendor (<1 day wait) and I eat the cost difference

I forgot to add the reason for the delay in the barrel is because it is a custom order.

bombadillo
10-18-2010, 11:36 AM
Its a hard thing to do in retail. I have worked sales for the last 10 years or so and calling somebody to say you screwed up is the right thing, however one of the hardest you can do. A token percentage off or a freebie usually clears things up but if YOU offer it first, then it typically will work. If the customer has to ask for it, they won't be happy 99% of the time no matter what you do so don't bother eating money on something you don't have to. Take it one at a time and remember you just CAN'T please some people no matter how hard you try, but at least TRY. Good luck with whatever you do and you sound like a very reasonable place to do business with and being honest and upfront like you are is your best resource.

Rekrab
10-18-2010, 2:01 PM
As said earlier, it's pretty tough to call customers about their orders when it's busy in-store only to tell them nothing has changed.

Personally I would consider making this someone's official job. Pick a day that you're typically slow and have this person call up your customers waiting on custom orders. Alternatively, setup an e-mail system that automatically sends out an e-mail whenever their order is updated, and once a week if nothing is changed.

I'm reasonably certain such systems are available since I'm accustomed to receiving shipping notifications and status updates from online retailers when I place orders. You would need to probably tie this into whatever ordering, billing, or inventory system you're currently using.

I don't know what your e-mail is like right now, but make sure it's checked and responded to daily. Nothing frustrates me, and I'm sure other gun owners, than a shop that isn't up on their e-mails.

Again, I don't know anything about your shop, so these are all just suggestions being tossed out there.

ParallaxTactical.com
10-18-2010, 3:07 PM
Called the customer and ended the conversation on a positive note.

We explained what happened, why it happened and how we would fix it.

The customer is keeping the build as is, and is waiting on a DPMS barrel which they said was in-stock, so when that arrives we can get it done!

Please consider this thread closed.

tenpercentfirearms
10-19-2010, 7:13 AM
Personally I would consider making this someone's official job. Pick a day that you're typically slow and have this person call up your customers waiting on custom orders. Alternatively, setup an e-mail system that automatically sends out an e-mail whenever their order is updated, and once a week if nothing is changed.

I'm reasonably certain such systems are available since I'm accustomed to receiving shipping notifications and status updates from online retailers when I place orders. You would need to probably tie this into whatever ordering, billing, or inventory system you're currently using.

I don't know what your e-mail is like right now, but make sure it's checked and responded to daily. Nothing frustrates me, and I'm sure other gun owners, than a shop that isn't up on their e-mails.

Again, I don't know anything about your shop, so these are all just suggestions being tossed out there.
Do a little research on the cost and availability on such a system and get back to us what you find. Then do an analysis of how much profit this system will generate after costs.

Or just don't back order.

Rekrab
10-19-2010, 8:14 AM
Do a little research on the cost and availability on such a system and get back to us what you find. Then do an analysis of how much profit this system will generate after costs.

Or just don't back order.

*shrug*

I don't backorder stuff. I was just trying to be helpful with my suggestion.

NewFrontierArmory
10-19-2010, 10:36 AM
We've been going through the same stuff with our custom uppers. Its been a hassle to get all the parts there at one time. It seems when we have parts 1, 2, and 3 we're missing 4, 5, and 6. By the time they come in, we're out of the other parts again.

My solution was to say "F" it and post a longer than normal lead time on the website when they order, and to dump a bunch of money into parts so I have a much better flow of what I need to build them.

It sucks hearing "You'll have your bbls in a week" and then relaying that to a customer, and then in 2 weeks when you don't have them, you're the idiot that "lied" to the customer.

winnre
10-19-2010, 10:48 AM
The customer sees you as the barrier between him and his barrel. Have him come into the store and call the barrelmaker with him there listening on speakerphone. That way he can see your predicament and know that you and him are on the same side.

d4v0s
10-19-2010, 6:11 PM
Communication is key, The dealer i use locally makes you sign saying that special order are just that, special, and 2 weeks is the normal time, but it can be more. I ran into this with my Sig i just special ordered, and i understand completely that orders depend on factories not the dealer.

I would say letting him know the status weekly would be good, by email or phone. that takes the waiting game out of the loop, although this guy sounds like he is just looking to complain, if im curious on an order i call in, because gun store workers are only human, and simply cannot be on top of every ball. i hate people who wait just to complain.