Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I've Been Thinking....

....and a lot of my thoughts lately have revolved around how inefficient my operation is. I spend half my day on emails trying to sort out customer requests and on the phone with people. Sometimes these requests are for one item and are very straightforward but a lot of times they are for multiple items. That's the hard one, when someone asks for 5 things and they are all custom finishes and configurations. Consequently not enough is getting done in the shop despite the long days I put in, and it's generally 7 days a week at that.

If I had only 3 different items total that I was making it would be so much easier. Really it would. I could have a chance of staying ahead of it all. But with dozens of different items and then on top of that many different patterns, colors and cord options I'm just driving myself crazy trying to keep it all straight.

It's worse than being a short order breakfast cook in a busy diner. Everyone wants eggs but they all want them different. And then there's the toast... :D To tell you the truth that is sounding more and more to me like a dream job......NOT! :)

Anyway, what can be done? Well there's quite a few options and believe me I have reviewed all of them carefully. I'm not going to get into all of them and I'm not asking for ideas, believe me I have more than enough of my own already. The ones that make the most sense are the following:

1. From now on, no custom orders will be accepted. I just can't do it right now. I can't make anything to drawings or alter in a significant way any of my current designs. I just can't get to anything totally custom right now for anybody.

2. I am moving to a scheduled method of production where I will be making larger batches of one item at a time. When those items are finished and completed I will move on to the next one. But when they are gone they are gone, at least for a while. At least until the next cycle starts. One of the things that's been killing me is stopping in the middle of a batch of something so that I can slip in a few of this or that for people's requests. It's nuts to do that and really throws everything off.

3. Also, I will be creating a Discontinued List on my FAQ page. There are many items that I have decided to stop making for the time being. Not to say that some of them wouldn't come back at some point but for now certain things will have to be discontinued.

So what does this mean? Well, it means that I hope that folks will be understanding of my situation. I really am just one guy here and for the time being hiring help is not an option. Maybe in the future there will be an Atwood Factory filled with happy workers making toys but right now it isn't going to happen.

So I guess what I am saying is please be patient with me, I am doing the best I can. And when you see something you would like to have come up on my site you might want to get it now because I can't say for sure when or if it will be available again.

8 comments:

Mark said...

Sounds reasonble to me.

*Virgo* said...

I've always wondered how you managed to keep up as well as you have. Being handmade, all Atwood tools are functional art.
I'm on board for whatever you come up with in any time frame. Just think, one day I will be passing along some of my Atwood gear to my grandchildren and tell them of their history and my correspondence with the artist ;-)

loveit said...

Peter, the situation does sound a little crazy, and I will be the first to apologize for adding to your stresses. Your new solutions sound fair for all involved. (And I had an idea brewing, too!). Let us know if things change, but I will stick to the site offerings. My best wishes are always sent your way!

spvwolfy said...

Peter, I totally, totally understand!! Good for you, for doing what YOU need to do take care of yourself and your business.

Peter Atwood said...

Thank you, I appreciate it. This is an experiment and if it doesn't work I'll try something else. :)

Jem said...

The main thing is to keep enjoying what you do and not let it get to be a chore. Best wishes as always.

beardy said...

That sounds great to me. It's no good for us fans of your work if you get burnt out and take up cooking at a greasy spoon! Eggs just aren't as fun.

Geomorphologist said...

Peter,

Part of the charm of checking out what you've come up with next is not knowing what it will be or how long it is going to be available. To the extent all the custom work gets in the way of your own innovation and your ability to be both efficient and happy - I believe people will understand. Also, thanks being a great guy to buy from - including your prompt responses/shipping. Here's one vote for focusing on what works best for you.