Wednesday's post blew up my inbox, as many of our more substantial posts do. The big topics were the pre-order's status, how long will my order take to get to me, and what builds are available most quickly.
The pre-order has been one of our mainstays over our history. We reintroduced it in late 2019 after it had been away for a while, and it's been as popular a choice since then as it had been earlier. And we're killing it, at least for the foreseeable future.
Why? In the olden days, when hubs arrived on our door before we'd hung up the phone with the supplier we were ordering them from, we could gang together all the hub orders for each vendor sometime around when the rims shipped from the rim vendors, and do it in one shot with simple vendor contact and very efficient shipping. For the last year, when we get a pre-order order, we typically tear ass over to the email machine and order the hubs immediately. This causes three things - 1. it takes a chunk of time and becomes a PITA to track 2. it costs a lot in shipping and 3. we pay for the hubs instantly. The paying thing is the lesser of these evils, but it still causes a bad cash flow situation for the few days after the money goes to the vendor's bank but before the order's money hits ours (we wait ~ 3 days for money from orders to go into our bank).
Those hubs that we just ordered? In rare cases, they're available quickly. In some cases, we could use one of the black WI sets that we have running orders for, but we don't like to do that. Why? Because we've paid for them 3 months ago by the time they get to us. So we're discounting the sale to a pre-order while increasing costs higher than they've ever been, while shortening our delivery cycle without a concurrent quickening of our supply cycle. That doesn't work. Or, in the third case, we're just discounting a sale that takes as long as it takes not because of the rim piece of it, but because of the hub piece of it. In essence, every order then becomes a pre-order and our price just goes down by $100 and reducing your top line by $100 without doing anything to reduce costs is a catastrophe. But with the mentioned shipping inefficiencies and wildly increase spoke costs we've had, our costs have gone up.
A dynamic that the pre-order often caused, and which we tried hard to communicate around, was point loading. When a s--tload of rims arrive all at once and that releases a lot of builds to be able to be done, well, our available manpower doesn't just rise to meet it. Our throughput capacity is what it is. The current dynamic is that that happens with rims still, because we order in bulk for efficiency and to mitigate the brutal cost of shipping. The White Industries hubs that we order for "stock," which are always sold before they arrive, all arrive in big batches and compound the issue. And even spokes do the same thing - we've been quietly battling spoke shortages, paying way more for second and third supply options, and spending tons of time finding them even at that.
So even if the parts for the order that you put in on Monday are all available to us by Friday, we might not have a build slot for a couple of weeks because a spoke bomb or hub bomb or rim bomb just arrived on our door.
So we'll of course try to get all builds out as quickly as we can - it benefits us too. I'm sure that all of you have been affected in many ways by supply chain issues, and many of you have to deal with it in your work lives and experience the same frustration that we do. No one would choose to have things how they are about this, but here we are. Thanks for reading.