Fair Woodworking

January 8, 2012

Will that be Cash or Credit?

Filed under: Fair Woodworking & Hand Tool Blog — fairwoodworking @ 1:58 am

I seem to be at odds with popular opinion on many topics.

Quite a few years ago, I tried my hand a retail sales selling car stereos. I was pretty sure I would be good at it since in my other jobs there was an element of sales, and I had done very well in that.

Imagine my surprise when I could barely pay rent with what I was making. I struggled through it trying to find my groove for about a year and a half. Then one day it hit me.

The customer didn’t want what I was trying to sell them.

You see the customer would come in and tell us what they wanted for an end result. As in “I want my car stereo to sound like this”. Then they would proceed to tell us what products they thought would provide that result.

The problem was that marketing is more about promising unicorns and lolly pops, than telling the truth, and the customers expectations were consistently out of whack with reality.

The customers were walking into the store with this dream that this new car stereo would make them happy. In fact many of them had convinced themselves that a $150 CD player and a $100 amplifier would some how sound as good as that $5000 system their brother in law has.

This would leave me with two options. Smile and confidently stroke his delirious fantasy until I got the sale. Or tell him the truth that $250 will sound like $250, and if he is trying to compete with his brother in law, this purchase is just going to leave him embarrassed.

Well Mr Customer didn’t want to hear the truth, and so I would loose the deal. I’d then see one of my co-workers scoop up the customer and promise him his unicorns and lollypops. The dream was back alive! I’d watch as the customer would get the system installed in his car, and watch as he excitedly gives it a test drive. Watch as a strange look comes across his face as he discovers that $250 sounds at best like $250, and drives away with egg on his face.

Being right or truthful was not paying the bills, and the customers were still driving away unhappy.

The truth is, I didn’t need to be right. I just wanted the customer to be truly satisfied, and I found that I took it very personally. To watch people just craving a rush despite the folly of their purchase frustrated me to no end, and at that point I knew that sales were not for me.

Today, I can see that I have a similar problem with woodworking. I’m not selling nothin’, but I do see people with that dreamy look in their eyes, I can even look back at myself with with a dreamy look in my eyes, and I want to shout from the rooftops, “YOUR GOING THE WRONG WAY”.

Last night I found a receipt for my first sharpening kit. I gladly dropped over $160 on it, and with in less than a year it all was replaced because it was pretty much useless. 3 years ago I got tired of it taking up space and I couldn’t stand to see anyone else get weighed down by it. So it sadly got sent to the dump.

Bad information cost me $160 in worthless gear, untold hours struggling with worthless gear, years of it taking up valuable storage space, and finally the guilt of adding to an over taxed waste management system.

As I’ve said before, I started this blog first so that I could have a record of the things I’ve learned, made, and thought, but what is the good of learning anything if what I learn stops at me.

I seem to be at odds with popular opinion on many topics, but I will continue to speak what I believe to be true, and expose what I believe to be incorrect.

Thank goodness I’m not selling anything!

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2 Comments

  1. The Gospel according to Fairwoodworking … Good Post!

    Comment by Boo — January 8, 2012 @ 6:06 am

  2. I just re read what I wrote last night. I got’ta stop writing when I’m tired.
    Ha, ha…

    I just get so passionate.

    What a hoot!

    Comment by fairwoodworking — January 8, 2012 @ 2:28 pm


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