Dave and I don't really have staff meetings, but we do go through a list of current projects each week. I figured the easiest way to keep our customers in the loop is to just publish the list here, along with some explanation of what we're doing and what the status is. I've also broken them into categories based on immediacy.
So here's What's Cookin', the September 2011 edition:
- Cyclocross Season: It is ON, and we've got the team kits, brand new carbon demo framesets and Chevy Chase Liquors shopping list to prove it. In two weeks we'll have the new tent too. (Sorry to all of you who are racing this weekend and get to do your warmups unprotected from the rain.) I even got a new team minivan in racing red to match the team kits. The secret is, you got to coordinate.
- The 2012 Wheelhouse: We just sent build specs over to a new assembly factory in Taiwan we are working with on the 2012 Wheelhouse Max Perkins. Within a week or so we should have pricing for the 2012 Wheelhouse frameset, the complete Wheelhouse Max Perkins with any of our wheelsets, and the Wheelhouse Max Perkins without wheels (if you already have some, don't pay for what you don't need).
- The White Wheelhouse: We posted some pics on Facebook of the White Wheelhouse we'll offer for 2012, in addition to the murdered out matte black from 2011.
- Wheel builds: Rims from the July pre-order are here and we're deep in the throes of wheelbuilding, boxing and shipping. If you have a set of wheels from that order watch your inbox for a shipping confirmation.
- We're Moving: We've outgrown the storage unit we called home for a year and are moving next week into a space twice as large with the same number of windows. That the space is the basement of Dave's new house is less relevant than the fact that we'll be able to offer local pickup for wheel, frame and bike customers. We're just trying to find a vending machine large enough to hold a pair of 23mm wide wheels that accepts 12 oz bottles instead of dollar bills.
- New Accounting and Inventory Management System: We're getting our books in order with a new accounting system this weekend. We do a lot of product and customer analysis but this new system will make it much easier on us, and give us a lot of added visibility into the business. Accounting and Inventory Management isn't as glamorous as product testing, but when my wife (who is the Director of Finance at an internet services company) lends her expertise, it's just as sexy.
- TT Frame: We have a promising spec on a TT frame from a new supplier and it's hitting all the buttons. Design and geometry are tight, price is excellent and the supplier fits the bill for us exactly. Just today we greenlighted a couple of samples to begin testing. The lead time for this supplier is shorter than some of the others we work with, so if all goes well we will be offering the TT frames for pre-order in the winter (possibly in January along with the CX frames) and delivering in the early season.
- 29er Frame: You'll notice this moved up from "Back burner" last month. Our beloved carbon fiber frame supplier has finished the spec on the carbon fiber 29er we've been waiting for and we've ordered a couple of samples. We ask for your patience in advance because once they come in we will likely be spending most of our time in areas so remote that they have no mobile internet. But we'll respond to your emails once we run out of Clif bars and have to come home.
- Philopelatis: That's greek for "Love for your customers." Dave and I realized that it's the governing principle for this business. So we're working on formalizing the concept into some principles and practices that help us - and other businesses - make the right decisions. You'll start to see that word show up here on the site soon, and maybe other places after that. We made it up. It's the one piece of true engineering we have done so far.
- Account Management: A happy trend Dave and I spied among our customers is that they come back. People who bought a frame come back for wheels. People who bought wheels come back for more wheels. And some people who bought a frame and wheels and then more wheels and another set of wheels and now another frame (I'm talking to you Edmonds) would probably come back for more as soon as we have more to sell. What this means to us is that the traditional "market to everyone, respond as needed" approach won't work as well for us as an account management strategy would. Our goal isn't to sell a bunch of frames and wheels - it's to find and satisfy a bunch of customers, so our energy should be put into our customers, not blindly pushing products to whomever wants to buy them. We're looking at ways of introducing a proactive account management function to make sure our customers are getting what they need. At first, it's probably something like I take everyone with the last name A-M and Dave gets N-Z, but once we figure out the process it makes hiring for scale a lot easier. I'm really looking forward to it, actually - not just because it should cut down on some duplication we currently have, but because it's a way of managing for growth while we're able to, instead of waiting until it's too late.