Friday, April 24, 2009

Opinions Welcomed

So... I have a question and would truly appreciate your opinions, suggestions, comments, etc. Please feel free to be honest as that is what I'm wanting.

My shop is keeping me extremely busy. Don't get me wrong, I'm VERY happy and VERY appreciative as I love what I do. I'm also dealing with some hand/wrist problems that I thought was just my arthritis kicking up a notch (yes, I know... and I do metalwork - go figure!) Nope, the doc thinks it may be Carpal Tunnel and has set me up for some tests next week and possibly therapy - pending outcome. I already wear braces while I work & sleep, etc., but he gave me 2 new ones to wear that are much better (yep, both hands) .

Anyway, I have many wonderful customers that are so kind & understanding about my timeframe, which went from 5 then 7 and as of last night, 10+ business days for processing/shipping (pending order size). I don't like to have this type of timeframe as I'm concerned about my customers, but I have no other choice as I can only create so much. I do this all on my own and there is only so much time in a day. My main priority truly is the quality/integrity of my work and customer service as I take great pride in what I do.

Here's where I welcome your opinions: Although I have many customers that do not mind the wait, I completely understand those who do mind. So I've been thinking about putting my shop in Vacation Mode for a short period - maybe 4-5 days, but I'll be honest in saying that I hate the thought of seeing an empty shop and think it would truly bother me. I've had some people tell me not to worry about it (easier said than done) and to just leave it open. I really need to decrease my timeframe and am concerned that it will continue to grow.

Additionally, most of my work is made to order. Due to the volume of sales I receive, it is not possible (at this time anyway) to have everything available at time of purchase, but sometimes I have some stock on hand. Plus I take custom/reserved requests for multiple orders.

So, now that I've written a short novel, what are your thoughts?

21 comments:

SueBeads said...

Rocki - sorry to hear about your wrists. My friend has had surgery on both of hers. You really need to take care of yourself first. You can't do more work if your wrists don't work, anyways, so I think you should put your shop in vacation mode. Also, I think you should only list things you already have made, instead of "pre-orders" then you can figure out your own pace and what you can handle! My two cents!

Rocki said...

Thanks Sue! I guess I should add that in my post about my items are made to order.

Thank you :)

KnockKnocking said...

I think that if you put a little comment about the situation in your store, your customers will understand and will be happy to wait for their lovely purchase.

Rocki said...

Hey KnockKnocking, thanks for your comment. Yes, I do have that posted at the top of my Shop Announcment & Shop Policies. I also have it the "message to buyer".

Thank you!

Carol said...

Rocki
I know that you have other health issues, so this additional issue is another bump in the road. Particularly sad because your work is such good quality and your business is doing so well.

I can identify with this pain, because I had carpel tunnel about 10 years ago. A supervisor was alert in telling me to see a DR because she knew what the pain was. I caught it early, wore the braces, had the physical therapy and for the most part I am ok, though I sometimes have to go back to the braces for a short time.

I am thinking that you should go in vacation mode until you know how this will heal. Perhaps you could keep in touch with regular customers, and when you can, keep them supplied.

Extending your lead time would be ok too, if it works for you. Your customers will adjust to it and order earlier than they have a need.

My concern (besides your health) is that you have built an excellent business. If you close shop, you may never get that following back. If on vacation mode and staying in touch with regulars, you will still have them when and if you decide to torch again.

Whatever you decide, you have a fantastic reputation, a people personality and a great knack for marketing. Everything will work out in the end.

XX
Carol

imoyik said...

I agree with everyone here that you should take care of yourself before your shop. Without your wrist you can't do anything. You don't want it to get worse and the regular customers will understand how important this is for you to fix. Take care!

Mark (aka Bullwinkle) said...

My opinion may be a little biased but I'll express it anyway!

I know first hand just how much love, care, attention and integrity Rocki puts into her shop, her creations and to her customers. You could not ask for a kinder, more compassionate person. She puts herself totally into her work and her beliefs and to know that, everyone she touches in all her subtle ways will be all the richer for it.

I tell her again and again that people like her work because her care and quality is obvious. If her customers really want what she has to offer, they will be willing to wait for it. Time and again her customers have proved that to be true.

I agree with Carol that closing the shop may not be beneficial. It could lead to losing potential customers. Vacation mode would be good to get "caught up". I also believe that the standard estimated shipping time should be extended. If a customer sees what the estimated shipping time is before they place their order, they will not be disappointed when the item is shipped in that timeframe. However, if the item is availble to ship earlier, the customer would be even more appreciative and more apt to return.

For the most part, customers shopping for quality hand-crafted items are willing to wait rather than sacrifice quality. Otherwise they would be shopping at WalMart and not on Etsy!

This whole experience with Etsy has been very good for Rocki! She has found a job that she truly loves doing and makes her feel very good about herself.

That's my honest, biased opinion!

dochoamom said...

Rocki, I agree that you should go on vacation mode. You need to take care of yourself. Mark, You rock! its great how you support her. You guys are very lucky to have each other...

Love, Deb

Cherry Tart Design said...

Rocki,

First, let me say how sorry I am to hear of your pain and troubles. I think it would be a good idea to put your shop into vacation mode for a few days to give yourself some time to get caught up.

If you are dead set against having an empty shop, at the very least I would say put up a notice in your shop regarding your condition, forgo the custom orders for a little bit and only keep the items you already have on hand listed.

Hope we have all helped in some way and I hope that everything works out for you.

Jo said...

Hi Rocki,
So sorry to read your blog today and know how much you are struggling right now. Commenting as a customer, I don't mind waiting when I know what a great quality your business provides for me. Commenting as a friend, POOR YOU! I hope you find some comfort soon. You just do such an awesome job with your design and quality. I don't want to see you close your shop as I know how fulfilling this is for you to be able to create something so beautiful. My greatest concern is that you get healthy, if you continue to work without caring for your wrists first I am concerned that they will become worse. I know you have a spirit to overcome and persevere. You are a brave soul! You have come so far so first take care of yourself then come back to your business as you are able.
Sending hugs,
Jo

sassyglassdesigns said...

Your health is first and foremost!!
2nd, I think your customers will understand if they know up front. I just dealt with a seller who didn't reply to 6 emails. He finally explained to me why and I suggested he add that information to his shop announcement so his buyers didn't think they were being ignored; he added it. Take care of yourself and glad your shop is so successful.

Carol said...

See, everyone agrees. Customers are willing to wait for quality. What the issue is when a customer expects it and it doesn't come. Tell them when you can deliver, they decide if they can wait...dilema over. Don't stress over it anymore!

Mazzy Blue Studios said...

I totally agree with everyone...you need to put your shop in "Vacation Type" (see below) mode to be able to not overstress both your wrist and you mind!!!

I know both as a customer of yours and having my own studio...it is so easy to get overwhelmed..notice right now I only have three items up in my store..lol...sigh..bc I'm working my but off on custom orders here at the studio:)

So I kinda try to regulate things that way...but I think you might consider posting like one of each of your creations and then stating inside that posting that you are taking a much deserved vaction and that say something like what CHA CHA is doing right now on her site:

SHIPPING NOTICE: All orders placed after Friday April 17 will be shipped Monday April 27th as I will be in Hawaii (yeah!). Thanks!!

Check out how she has her shop set:

http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5195891

I hope this helps:)

This way your shop won't be closed...it won't be bare either!!! Everyone will know up front what is going on and will still place orders.

Ok enough talky talk I have to crack the whip on myself...back to painting!!!

~Hugs~

artangel said...

Hi Rocki!
Hmm - tough one! If your work is exacerbating your symptoms you really should rest your hands, or at least take lots of breaks - i.e. a few minutes each hour. You certainly shouldn't be doing repetitive work for hours on end. You could also look at trying some physio, which sometime helps?

My personal feeling is that I wouldn't put your shop in vacation mode; I don't really like it. If someone has hearted you it just looks like your shop is closed.

I would just make your turn-around times very clear to anyone who purchases from you - then it's their choice whether they are happy to wait a bit longer - and hey, your work is worth waiting for!

Thinking outside the box, maybe another way to work this would be to increase your prices? If you're struggling to keep up with orders, this would maybe reduce your workload without reducing your income! Just a thought - tell me to get back in the box if you want!!
Sure you'll work out the best way forward!
Angie x

Heart of a Cowgirl said...

Do take care of yourself Rocki~ That is the most important thing! After reading the other comments, I too think that maybe you should just make what you can and list them, and maybe do not take on the custom orders? People (like me!) can just order from your stock on hand. I know that I would still order even if I couldn't always get "exactly" what I wanted. Take Care Rocki!

Rocki said...

I was hoping for some comments, but I never expected this - I'm speechless! Wow, from my customers too - you all rock!

I just to make note of a couple things. I've had a Shop Announcement up since the 20th about my situation (in brief) as I always keep my customers informed.

My Shop Policies have been up since day one and are very detailed with my processing/shipping timeframe, etc. maybe too much info, but can't hurt, right :)

Since I truly believe in excellent customer service & common courtesy, I always email my customers after a purchase thanking them and letting them know their ship date. This isn't done in a robot fashion as I am sincerely thankful for each and every customer and sale. You can even ask Mark this, he hears me thanking them :)

I've taken all of your advice to heart and combined it into what I'm comfortable with. I can't risk further injury as this is my job, so I've put up another announcement (everywhere) that will work and am leaving my shop open (just can't bare to see a, well, bare shop ;)

Thank you all so very much!
Luv n Peace, Rocki

Anonymous said...

Rocki, I definitely know where you are comimg from. I just had surgery for carpal tunnel on BOTH of my hands two weeks ago. Still recovering but went back to work on Monday after a little over a week, I do office/computer work, and it has really been rough. Not wise to have them both done at the same time because it was about near impossible to do things but tough old me was trying to knock them both out at once and minimize the doctor/hospital bills. Don't regret it but don't recommend it if you end up going that route eventually.

I just placed an order with you today so no problem on the delay. I would probably just post something about the delay in shipment and not close your shop like you already have. Most people are understanding. Hope everything works out with your hands! :o)

Coastal Sisters said...

You come first sweetie. Don't forget that. I know you care about your customers but if you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of those that love your work (ME ME ME! I LOVE your work!) I say close down for a few days and give yourself a wee bit of a rest :)

Love,
LuLu~*xoxo

DancingMooney ♥ said...

Debi, I've been secretly wondering how you were keeping up with all of this!

I think you should put your shop in vacation mode for a few days, give yourself a chance to get caught up and perhaps make some of the items that you sell most of, so you do have a bit of extra inventory on hand.

That's got to be tough though. I have no idea what it's like to run a shop that hops like yours!
:p

Kudos to you girlfriend, what's meant to be will be...

RainbowMom said...

Hi Rocki. I understand your concern and admire you deeply for your dedication to your customers which makes you so successful! I would suggest putting your shop on vacation mode explaining the potential wait for customers but perhaps leave an email addy where people who know what they want and are not afraid of the wait can still contact you.

Good luck with whatever you choose and whatever you choose will be right. :) Remember, it's only as difficult as you choose it to be.

Hugs and Loves!
Tammy

Moondoonie said...

The question mark caught my eye because I used this picture recently for a diversity event at work. Great minds!