One of the most rewarding aspects of my life are getting to know my customers and fellow woodworkers. I believe they are the force that drives me to do the best job I can do. As I see my business grow, I find that there is more and more interaction with my customers and although it takes time, it is quite a rewarding aspect of my life. Interaction with others comes in many forms. I receive emails from people asking questions or help, I talk with people on the forums and give advice or help find answers and I also hear from them via phone calls. It seems as my business grows, this interaction takes a larger part of my day than it used to. Usually when I am finished writing here, I go through my emails and messages and answer each one. This can take anywhere from an hour to several, depending on the day. I also answer what I can throughout the day when I am on the computer, and if I am not too tired, I do a final email check before I go to bed at night. There is a personal satisfaction in helping other people that I feel that goes beyond any financial gain. I know many don’t understand this, but I am just being honest with you as to how I feel.
I had a phone call from a customer yesterday morning. He again, was surprised that I answered my own phone and said that he expected a recording because it was a holiday (in the States). He asked if it was ‘Sheila Landry Designs’ and I said it was and I was Sheila Landry and again, he was just astounded that he was talking to me and answered my own phone. I guess I will never get over that. It it funny and amazing to me that people regard me in the way they do. As if I was too important to answer my own phone.
In speaking to him, he explained that he was concerned because he placed an order from my site a few months ago and hadn’t received it. I said “Months?!” and he affirmed it was some time in April. I was wondering why he seemed so pleasant. He said that he had written down the order and it was several things he wanted, but he also checked his credit card information and was never charged. He said he had ordered previously and things went fine and he certainly thought he should have his order by now. (But he said it so calmly and nicely!) I immediately checked my database and he certainly did order in January, but not in beyond that. I explained to him that for some reason the order didn’t go through, but I would be happy to take it now. We proceeded to finish our business and he placed a nice order. What stood out most with him was his nice, easy-going attitude. Not only did he seem surprised that I was able and willing to help him so quickly, but he was so grateful and kept thanking me for the ‘great customer service’.
It just goes to show that in this day and age (Geeze, I sound old when I use that phrase!) people don’t only expect bad service, they expect (myself guilty too) upset customers. I honestly would have expected him to be a bit more irritated at me in not having received his order. His kind tone and grateful attitude set a pace that made what could have been an unpleasant situation into one that was easily managed and not at all objectionable.
My grandmother always used to say ‘you get more flies with honey than vinegar’ and I believe that this was what she was talking about. I believe that a positive attitude is infectious and that people want to be treated as we ourselves want to be treated – with kindness and respect. (Long live the pink cloud!) I finished up the transaction, filled his order and as a sign of good measure, sent him an additional ‘bonus’ pattern of something similar to what he ordered that I thought he would like in gratitude for the reminder of this valuable lesson. I like doing that. It is one of the best parts of owning my own company. I am ‘the boss’ and if I want to give something away, I do. To me, there is nothing wrong with expressing a little appreciation when others earned it. I think many times it makes me feel as good as the recipient.
So I went on with my day, and soon after I received another phone call. This time it was from a friend I haven’t seen in months. She was in my area and wanted to visit. Although I had the day planned to draw, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see her so I told her to come on over. We spent the afternoon going out to lunch and catching up as well as going to the local farmer’s market and came back to my place where I helped her out with some issues she had on her laptop computer (I kind of fix computers for my friends sometimes – in my spare time). There was a little part of me that felt guilty because I knew I had the self-imposed drawing deadlines for the day. I thought about it for a minute, but I also remembered the many days in winter especially, when I park my little Mustang and don’t drive at all or go out and you know I thought – what the heck? With all the time I have put into work the past several months, surely I have earned at least an afternoon off? I was glad I took it. It was a warm, beautiful sunny day and as we sat overlooking the ocean eating an ice cream cone and just talking and laughing about nothing in particular, I realized that this is what it is all about.
After she had gone and dinner was done, it was about 7:30. Normally I would have called it a night, but I felt so rejuvenated after the break, that I picked up drawing where I was when interrupted earlier in the day. I actually finished drawing up my new patterns at approximately 11:30 last night. As you may know, I am not a night person. I am much more productive in the early hours of the day, but for some reason I felt driven to do this and it felt good to break the mold and continue working. I guess that sometimes we need to rest so we can work harder. I guess balance is the key.
On my final scan of my email for the night, I came across a customer on my Facebook page that loved that little dresser tray that wound up going to the magazine. He was a bit disappointed when I had to tell them that the pattern wouldn’t be available for several months because the magazine took it, as his wife loved the pattern. This past weekend, I worked on writing the pattern packets for the new items that are going to go up on my site. Among them was the oval frame that was similar to the tray he liked so much (the one with the butterfly in the center). As a final thought for the day, I sent him the pattern for the oval frame. I don’t know why, but I just wanted to. Although it was not exactly the same as the circle tray, the frame could be easily adapted to a tray also. I emailed him the pattern with a short note. Before I even signed off for the night, I received an email message from him, saying he was surprised and grateful and that he loved the pattern. It made me feel great to know I made his day. THIS is what having my business is all about.
I will cut today and be able to finish the little whimsical ornament set that I drew up last night. They are simple, but I did a similar set with a different theme last year and they are great sellers. I hope these are also successful. I can’t wait to get them done.
It is a great feeling to love your job! :)
My thought for the day:
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” ~Confucius
Have a great one!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"