Dealing with Internet Business:
I haven’t had much time to blog this year. Blogging is fine, I like it, but honestly, who has time to read my dribble? I get enough encouragement to continue blogging that I make time for it when I can, but it has been awhile.
Ever since Google started to find my lumberjocks postings in the Spring of this year, I’ve been pretty busy.
Google had always fround my postings, and my website but the ratings were apparently so low on their list that nobody ever found the list. That started to change this year, and has so morphed my business that I am rarely doing, or looking for local work anymore.
There are upsides to that, and downsides to getting lots of new internet based business, but mainly I’m just very happy to have work to do right now.
The downside to internet based business is that for an extrovert like myself, I don’t get to talk with people in person as often as I would like.
Sure, they email all the time, and I like to talk through a keyboard. And there are folks that use the old style telephone to call me, although most of them use their cell phones now. I’ve gotten enough phone calls and messages this past few weeks to convince me that I needed to update the technology, which means to spend money. I have known this for a long while, but have been trying to get by with what we have.
Then this past week a guy left a message on my cheap digital answering machine,
“This is Paul (garbled last name) from (garbled city name) Oklahoma, and I want (BEEP)!
Ugh, I’ve listened to that message about twenty times and can’t get anything from that stupid answering machine that gives me anything to try and find the guy. I’m sure he wanted something, but was it a cane, a knife, a hat tool, a piece of furniture, some scrimshaw art, or what? Unless he calls back, I’ll never know.
So, I have to just hope he tries calling me back.
After that mess with the answering machine this week, I headed to the store to get a new phone and answering machine. The new machine has caller ID, and a better recording system, and so I hope that it works better.
I was able to get the old land-line phone hooked up in the shop, so now I can answer the phone out in the shop when my wife is gone. She normally answers the phone. Now the next big hurdle is how to get phone calls to ring when I’m on the internet. The only other option for internet service in our remote area is with satellite, and I just can’t afford that right now.
So, we have one phone line for our house, our business, for the kids to use, and the internet use.
Ok, ok, I know what you are thinking.
This has got to be the worst possible method of conducting a business. How unprofessional. How silly it is to not have better technology, and present a better image to the customers. I hear you.
However, to keep our overheads low, so that I can keep my prices down, we have been getting by with one phone line. We have an old trac-phone cell phone, but we don’t get reception where we live (“Can you hear me now?”) Yea, right.
One guy tried to get me through Skype, which I had never heard about before he wanted to call me in that system. I can’t do that with dial up well, so I had to drive 12 miles south to my Pastor’s house and use his Skype system. We never did get it to work. So, back to land-lines.
I’m just rambling, but it is a situation around here that I’m thinking through. If you have ideas, let me know. Can’t promise that I’ll do any of them, after all I’ve got a 10 year old computer and it can’t do all of the new fancy things that are available.
Visit From Father Hein:
One of the local projects I was awarded this year is a set of fancy frames for a Catholic Church near where I live. The Church is remodeling and wanted to make their Stations of the Cross pictures bigger, by building custom frames around them and painting them to match. The church wanted bigger Stations on the Wall, but didn’t want to buy new pictures. So, we are building bigger frames for the old ones. A good idea to spread the money that folks donate farther, and still get the visual effect the leadership wants. And, it provides needed income for my family.
I first met Father Hein when he asked me for a bid for a new Front Altar, and a New Lectern. He has been to see the church work I did last year at the St. Anthony church, and he wanted something similar, but a little different.
He even asked about carving the Last Supper on the front of the Altar. Now, that’s my kind of project commission!
As it worked out, a local carpenter offered to build the lectern and altar as a donation to the church. That sort of killed the project for me.
Father Hein was in a Pickle. so to speak, since he had already told me that he wanted me to do the project. I had been turning work away to make room for the schedule of the church remodel, when he called one day and told me about his “Pickle.”
If he took the donated lectern and altar from the carpenter, then he would have money to buy some Pews that he really needed also. I listened, and could sense that I needed to release him from his verbal committment to me, and so I told him that God was big enough to work this out for all of us, and that I was fine with the other guy doing the work.
I didn’t know what I would find to replace the work in my schedule since I had been turning away work for a couple of months, but I have the Faith that God had another plan.
A few days later, Father Hein called for a meeting to discuss the Fancy Frames he wanted for the Stations at the Cross. He awarded me that work, and I’m making good progress on them now.
He called this week and wanted to come by and visit the shop and see the work in progress.
When Father Hein arrived, he had “Rose” his helper in the office with him, and the three of us spent quite awhile working through the details of the Frames.
During one of my trips into the house to get a sample, apparently my daughter Rachel slipped into the shop to talk with my guests.
Rachel loves to have people visit, and when I know folks are coming, I have a little “talk” with Rachel. Usually the talk involves instructions about who is coming, why they are coming, and to ask her to come in and say hello, introduce herself, and then go on outside so that we can conduct the business. For the most part, she and her brother are doing that. Normally, she breaks the rules, and brings in things like cats, and drawings, and dolls, and other treasures to show. Conducting business at home with a family, you get what you get I guess, but I do try to instruct the kids not to interrupt.
This time, Rachel waited until I was running to the house for a sample of Gold Gilding I’ve done in the past, and she snuck into the shop.
By the time I came back to the Shop, apparently Rachel had already slipped back out.
After about an hour of meeting and discussing paint colors, and carvings, and options, Rachel showed back up in the shop.
She looked at Father Hein and said, “Are you ready to kick the ball now?”
Father Hein, said, “Almost, just wait a little bit.”
I looked at Father Hein and Rachel. “What?”
I didn’t get much of an explaination from either one, and Rachel slipped back outside.
Going into the second hour of our meeting, Rachel showed back up and looked at Father Hein, “Ready?” she said.
It was already dark outside, and pretty cold. We have a big Yard Light, so the driveway had some light.
Father Hein said, “Yes, let’s go kick.”
So, the two of them kicked a soccer ball back and forth for a few minutes while Rose and I continued to discuss the fancy paint scheme of the frames.
After a few minutes Father Hein showed back up from the kick game.
We finished up our meeting about a half hour later.
During our time together, I had talked Rose into taking a couple of our farm cats with her. We have too many, and she agreed to take a couple of them home.
So, I went to find a box to transport the cats in, and Father Hein said to Rachel, “Ready to kick some more?”
So, they had another game of kick-the-ball.
As I was walking through the dark with a flashlight looking for a cat box, I was overwhelmed at how much God cares for, and loves us. About 18 months ago, Rachel was unable to kick the ball, or even to walk without the risk of falling down and hitting her head. It was at that time that a neurologist diagnoses her rare, incurable disease. She’s been getting better every week, despite the grim diagnosis, and we are thankful that she is able to kick the ball now.
As she was kicking the ball back and forth with Father Hein, I was overwhelmed again with God’s love and care for us. Not only had God sent this humble Father Hein to me, but also to Rachel.
You can see why I like having personal visits to the shop, and not all internet-based email business.
Here’s a webpage with Father Hein’s photo shown”
Rev. Hein P. Nguyen of the Holy Family Parish, Marion County
Thanks for reading,
-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com