Saturday, July 28, 2007

Summer Downpours

Summers around here seem to have changed. We used to be busy for about three to four months of steady activity. Now it seems to come in short, torrential downpours, like the new style of our spring and summer rains.

Yesterday, while Steve and I were already buried in the workshop, a woman stepped onto the sales floor. Steve had barely managed to say quietly to me, "I hope she's just here to buy clothes."

"I'd like to buy three women's bikes and a baby seat," the woman announced.

She ended up buying four bikes, adding a men's hybrid to the two Fuji Odessa mountain bikes and the Fuji Crosstown hybrid. The men's hybrid got a rack to match the one that comes with the baby seat we had to mount to one of the Odessas.

At times like this you really appreciate that a bike was meticulously assembled. If it was, the final check takes a couple of minutes, mostly just checking air pressure.

These weren't.

When an assembler pays sketchy attention to detail, the person checking the bike has to go meticulously from one end to the other to see what was hit and what was missed. This takes time a busy shop can ill afford when the customers are there in the store, wondering what's taking so long.

I have never succeeded in convincing people we should do every assembly to the highest standard. Then we all suffer when the "it's good enough" mentality runs into a busy sales day.

"It's good enough" isn't even really profitable, unless you sell in an area that brings you a steady flow of new customers to replace the ones who left because it wasn't. It takes more time to redo work, sometimes several times, than to do it right in the first place. Somewhere in the process of making "good enough" actually good, the shop will lose money.

We're not here to lose money.

It's really easy to lose your life in a job like this. Actually it's easy in most of the jobs we do. One day you realize most of your years are behind you and you've spent the prettiest part of every season shoveling someone else's shit.

I don't have a quick answer to that, certainly not when I have to run like hell out of here, because a summer Saturday looms ahead.

Downpours are forecast.

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