Happy November, and welcome to the greatest month! Also I guess this is our 7th anniversary. Time flies. Maybe it's time for a "Heritage Line" or some such thing.
If you are on our mailing list, then you got an email about 2018 prices the other day. In addition to being our namesake month, November is the time of year when we evaluate product costs, sales mix, overheads and other costs of doing business, and decide what, if anything, to do with selling prices. We've generally been more or less paragons of price stability (and yet, no, neither of us wants anything to do with being Janet Yellen's replacement), but sometimes there's a curve we need to respond to.
In a blog about a month ago, I gave a fairly thorough rundown of our pricing structure. Hopefully the message got through that there isn't a lot of fat there, and that if a cost goes up, the corresponding price must as well. There's really not any absorbing increases that we're able or willing to do.
(Though this is starting to read a bit like Fed meeting notes, seriously, no interest)
2018 won't be a big break from that path. Shipping costs are going up, which affects us both inbound from vendors and outbound to you. We'll be keeping outbound order shipping charges the same, but those increased costs are going into our product pricing stew. Product prices from vendors are fairly stable, with one notable exception I'll get into in a bit, so there isn't any huge news there. Some other costs are up a bit. So there are some changes but they're not profound.
There are two things that have us wondering what to do. The first is skewers and the second is tubeless tape (which serves as general rim tape, and in today's world of tubeless rims, tubeless tape works worlds better than anything else). We are the only custom builder we know of to include skewers in road builds. We don't include them with discs for a bunch of good reasons. Our skewers are really good. You wouldn't use something else unless you wanted to do some weight weenie or color match thing, and in both cases you'd use worse skewers to do it. We know. We've tried them all. But they are of course a cost, and we don't know (frankly we don't think) that people adequately value them when comparing costs to other builders. Probably because most people consider included skewers to be a throwaway thing, which ours are decidedly not.
Tubeless tape inclusion and installation is both a cost and a time suck. To install the tape right takes more than a few moments, and it's actually sort of difficult to do right. Most other builders charge somewhere around $25 to either include the tape for you to install, or to install it for you. The way we buy tape, just throwing a roll in the box doesn't happen since our rolls do about a dozen wheels. Smaller rolls are actually more expensive for us to buy - not even just foot by foot, but roll by roll. And again, we wonder if the investment we make in providing this is adequately valued in comparisons. As it stands, our thinking is to continue to include them and see what happens.
The one price that will go up somewhat more than incrementally is the price for Easton builds. While we're still one of the only places able to do 20h front builds, our costs for bringing in Easton rims are more than they used to be. Builds with Easton rims are a prominent part of our sales mix, which is probably reflective of the fact that our prices on them have been excellent, and it also means that our Easton prices are something that we need to address. So those are going to go up somewhat more than other things will. If you're heavy petting an Easton-based build at the moment, we'd say go ahead and jump on that now.
Obviously we're aware of our prices relative to other custom builders you might be consider. And our prices are generally quite good relative to them, especially if you properly account for great skewers and included and installed tape. And as I said last month, we largely ignore those other prices in setting our own. They are just a data point that provides us with some guidance and reference. And there's no doubt that we'll continue to be an exceptionally cost effective way to get great custom built wheels.