Something that our friend Paul V. said in the thread about a Guild reminded me of a topic that I've been wanting to bring up for a while now. Thanks Paul!
It's when do you pass on a job? Something that seems to plague us, more so in the past than currently... is the topic of clients who have basket case guitars that have clearly been abused in all manner of creative ways... and they want to drop them off for repair and then never pick them up...
I'm reminded of Quentin Tarintino's excellent film Pulp Fiction where Quentin gets upset because his friends seem to think that they can bring over and leave dead bodies in his yard/garage....
For us this was compounded by the existence of a music store on the lower floors of our building where the sales folks would take in all manner of crap, estimate completely incorrectly, and then set the client's expectation that they could get a neck reset for $2.00...
Of course I'm exaggerating but attempting to make a point and the point is that when we don't do our own triage at times, seemingly often, it's a lot more difficult to reset a client's expectation that the high action on a 70's Martin may require more than a truss rod adjustment...
So there are really two issues here, basket case guitars that require more attention and expense to bring back than their value even when fixed and/or the client's budget AND when these guitars are left and left and left for years at times but the client still wants them.... We had one that was left originally with other folks who had our shop previously over ten years ago and the client still wants it fixed....
I'm personally not adverse to passing on jobs if the value proposition is not there or the quoted price is something that the client balks at. On rare occasion a client's attitude may cause me to ask myself if I really want to get involved with this client perhaps because of a predisposition to attempt to micro-manage on the client's part. Or, more specifically, folks who leave guitars for years, never call to check up on them or the level if any of progress. Seems to me to be a bad risk in the sense that one could do the work, sometimes extensive work requiring dozens or more of hours, and then never have the thing picked up and paid for.
I would appreciate learning what some of your experiences have been with the jobs that you never should have taken in. What happened, why, have you changed your perspective as a result, etc? Any pink elephants currently in your shops that you are concerned about?
Square is great! However, "out of the box" the amount of $ they let you transact is too small. You have to petition them to get them to raise the ceiling.
Assuming you already have a smartphone, ipod touch or ipad, there are no equipment costs, no arbitrary annual fees and they take their cut before they give you your money which is a huge time and headache saver.
I haven't used their "cash register" so I can't speak to that feature.
Nathan thanks for the info on invoice2go - I'm looking into it right now.
We used and still use square and I like it too. Although we recently went with our bank for credit card processing it was very difficult for me to stop using square. It works, it works well, it's easy, kind of fun for both parties (unless one is a clean freak and does not want other people's finger tips touching your IPhone....).
I live about an hour from my new shop and had a repair biz out this way too. I kept the best clients so I let them drop off stuff at my home and I drive it in and return it to my home where they pick it up along with a beer or two... What's great about square too is that I can process credit cards where ever I am and this is a good match for how I work.
The only down side that I could ever find besides the dirty finger on my phone thing.... is the 2.75% cut that they take. You can do better and if you process a lot of credit cards and we most certainly do with over 50% of our Ann Arbor clients paying with cards the 2.75 can add up. Since we never see the fees taken out like you do with a conventional brick and mortar processor such as a bank what one does not see does not seem to hurt as much... ;)
But if I was only taking cards less than say 10 times a month I would have stuck with square for the convenience, ease of use, the fact that it's a conversation starter once someone contaminates my phone... and it simply works great.
Don't lose that white thing, it's important....
Expect square to be requiring additional info from users in the near future. Banks and clearing houses have agreements for protocol for electronic processing. I am forgetting what the requirement is that banks and other processors have to subscribe to but square has to date slipped under the radar. Everyone that I have spoken with expects this to change once square has the market share for the others to get ugly with them.
I won't accept work that I am not capable of executing with acceptable risk and to my standards for quality. I have taken in some instruments that were brutal surprises after intake and - in one case - stopped work, reassembled the guitar and gave it back to it's owner at no charge - explaining that the required work was beyond my capabilities. It was a Robin neck with the worst case of back bow I've ever seen (~3/4" unstrung with the truss rod loose). A recommendation to take it to another (well known Dallas) shop was provided and it nearly kicked their (very talented) Luthier's butt as well. The customer really appreciated my candor and continues to bring me steady work and has provided excellent referrals.
I also will not accept a repair or modification that will result in the devaluation of a vintage instrument. That one is kind of funny because I'm not that interested in vintage guitars or gear but that's my personal preference and not an excuse to destroy a valuable historic instrument.
The "bad customer" remarks all brought a chuckle. I actually had one threaten violence as he didn't want to pay for a minor repair and setup. It wasn't about the quality of the work - he just didn't want to pay. Not a good idea - I'm an ex-hockey defenseman, used to box and have extensive martial arts training. In the end, it was a ploy by an arrogant little metal head to see if he could get away with something. He had the money on him too and paid the tab when I informed him that payment was not optional along with a short, calm dissertation on the legal consequences of his actions and the remedies available to me to deal with the situation (like selling his guitar to recoup my costs). Go figure.
I love how these posts all seem like I could be the source. In this business, I can say this from so many first hand experiences, integrity, honesty, and affection for the craft are always present in those at the top of the field. I have my standards, if the job or the customer do not meet them, I turn down the job regardless the dollar amount. It's just my way.
Great post JR!
So after reading your excellent post I feel inclined to go out and purchase athletic cups for me and our folks.... ;)
Good point on not doing anything that might devalue a valuable instrument - could not agree with you more!
Today I left a gathering of old friends a day early and drove the 100 miles home to meet a guy. We had exchanged texts and emails for two weeks about restoring his 1895 L&H parlor guitar. I spent quite a bit of time explaining things.
So, he decided to drive down from a nearby larger city both to see me and visit his son. I let him know I would be out of town but would come back early to meet him. I figured if he was traveling that far that he was a safe bet.
This morning before I left my friend's place the guy texted me saying he was in town and would be by around 4pm. At 1pm he asked if we could move it back to 5pm. I got home at 2pm and immediately got a text saying he had decided to buy a new guitar and couldn't afford both the Larivee and the repair. So, I explained concisely (but without angry language) that he had inconvenienced me in a big way. I told him I wouldn't be able to help him in the future. He protested my decision so I changed his name in my contact list to "Don't Answer."
My response was weak? I figured he could do some damage if I admonished him and he dissed me to his friends. I wasn't looking for satisfaction.
Ah, must be a Yankee thing.
Down hea' in tha South where we're still a-waiting for public education, indoor plumbing, and color TV we say "he's jes no-count...the best part of that boy ran down his mama's leg."
Then there is the issue of your sisters too..... JUST KIDDING!!!! :)