Friday, December 23, 2016

Time Zones & Appointments & Being Late

Quick blog post here... if I know you're in a different time zone, or even think it, I will bring this up when we are setting an appointment, to make sure that when we say 11 am, it is the SAME 11 am for both of us.

So, let's take today.  I had an appointment coming from Indy.  They are an hour ahead, so 10 am here is 11 am for them.  So, I went through the email an realized, I never mentioned the time zone, which means, they likely don't even realize there is a time zone different (you'd be amazed how many people are clueless that this portion of NWI is in a different time zone), so I would assume they'd come at 11 am, their time... which would be 10 am, my time. 

But in case they really did mean 11 am, my time... well... it's now 11:24 and they are not here.  So, even if they meant 11 my time... they're 24 minutes late already.  Now, maybe it's just me, but if I'm running late, I call, or text, or something.  I have somewhere (well, multiple somewhere's) to go today, and was planning on leaving as soon as this appointment left.  Well... are they coming?  I sent them an email at 11:15 and asked if they're still coming, but it's been 10 minutes, and so far, nothing. 

Going forward, when I set an appointment with someone, I am going to ask for a phone number, so, should something come up or they not show up, I have an immediate way to get ahold of them... versus email, where they may not check it for hours. 

So... here comes the conundrum... now what do I do?  I mean, should I wait for them?  They're going on 30 minutes late, and clearly don't have the common courtesy to let me know that they're running late.  This happens all the time.  People show up 45 minutes late, and think nothing of it. 

I used to have a few paragraph blurb that I would send to people when they set up an appointment, which included the address and house description, payment options, bring a carrier, time zones, and.... being on time.  At the time I had that, it basically just said that the person needed to call if they were going to be more than 15 minutes late, to notify us, but I think I may re-implement this, and it may NOW include, instead of just saying "call us"... NOW, it may say, "if you're more than 15 minutes late and you DON'T call, we have the option to pick up and leave, since we would think you are a no-show."  Worded better, of course.  But the issue here is.... are they running late, or are they not coming at all?  If running late, well, of course I want to wait for them, but if they're not coming at all, then time is wasted just sitting around waiting for them... to never show up.  It gets old.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Really? I mean, REALLY??

So, customers are killing me right now.  Stupid questions and idiotic things are always pretty common here, but lately... oh boy.

First thing.  I have up on the website that we can ship.  So, naturally... everyone asks, "is there a fee for that?"  Now, if you have a brain in your head, you may have figured out that, unlike a hammock or chew toy, these are live animals that you can't just throw in a priority mail box and mail out.  I'm sure some of you are sitting there scratching your heads, saying... why not??  Anyway, they fly out on the airlines, and that's not free by any means. 

So, naturally, I mention, ok, there's a cost for the flight, for the carrier, for the paperwork, my gas to get to and from the airport... runs $200-250 for 1-4 chins.  Mind you, these people are typically asking about shipping a $75 chin, so no, I can't eat the cost of $200 shipping to ship you a $75 chin. 

Which bring up, then someone will say, well, on, they sometimes have free shipping.  Have you seen the chins on there?  They easily go for a few hundred, and by a few hundred, I mean $600-800, and quite a few go for THOUSANDS.  People often buy several at a time, so, even on the low end, say someone buys 3 chins at $500 each, that's $1500 for 3 chins... they can eat $200 in shipping.  Me?  Not so much.

Second thing.  People that can't do math and have no sense of logic.  I had one person email asking about the cost of adopting two chins.  As it was a male and a female, and the multi-chin discount only applies for same-sex pairs, the adoption fee was... the total of the two adoption fees.  Each chin was $200, so $400 total.  So, then she asks about shipping, and I told her, likely $200 for the two, for shipping.  So, she says, oh, $200 total?  As in, $200 for the two chins and shipping.  Cause, you know, if you buy one, it's full price, but buy two, and I'll only charge you for one, AND throw in free shipping (sarcasm).  Yeah ok.

Third thing.  People who think the policies / rules don't apply to them.  I hold chins for 14 days.  Let me repeat -- 14 DAYS.  THAT IS IT.  Don't like it?  Show me any place that will hold them for longer, and won't charge you for it.  When it's not the busy season, I may go a few extra days one way or another.  If the deposit is for 14 days, and you want to pick up in 16, it's not going to be the end of the world, most likely.  However... during the busy season, when just about every other chinchilla is on hold... it IS a big deal to hold that chin just a little bit longer.  So like today, someone emailed about this one chin, and we're emailing back and forth about it, and I ask her if she's wanting to set up an appointment to come see it.  She says, no, she wanted to pick it up after the holidays, and I tell her, ok, well, our deposit holds for 14 days, and I tell her how she can go about putting down the deposit, if that's what she wants to do.  So, her response is, "ok," and since it IS the busy time of the year, I sort of need to know if you want the chin or not, so I questioned, ok, did she want to put down the deposit?  So she tells me, she wants to pick up the first week of January.  I repeat, our holds are for 14 days, which is only until the 29th at this point, and I suggest that she email back around this time next week, because then we will be within the 14 days.  So, she says, well, she'll pay for the whole thing now, if I'll hold it, PLEASE.  Honey.  At least half the chins on hold here, right now, are fully paid for, and THEY are only getting 14 days to pick them up.  It's not like she's offering MORE money, she's just offering to pay in full... which, no offense to anyone, but doesn't make me any more likely to hold it.  I'm going to get $200 for the chin whether she pays it all now, or part now and part in January, so when she pays it really makes no difference as far as holding it. 

Now, let me explain a bit more WHY we only hold for 14 days, and I know I've gone on about this before, but let me reiterate quickly.  Say I have room for 10 chins here (I know, some of you are dying laughing, shut it! lol), and 5 of them are on hold for 14 days.  Well now, I only have 5 that are available.  Say two more get on hold, now I only have 3 available... and I can't get in any more, cause the other 7 are still here and on hold.  That means, rescue chins not able to come into the rescue, other chins not able to be brought in, sometimes I can't wean babies here and have to leave them with mom extra long because I don't have open cages... all because those chins are on hold.  It's not to be mean or unfair to anyone, but 14 days is more than enough for you to come pick up your chin.  To be perfectly honest, I'm not even sure why people WANT to pick out a chin that much in advance.  They're not ready to bring it home, and (talk to other breeders / rescues, you will find out this is the case) MOST places will NOT hold the animal for ANY length of time (much less 14 days), so these people are usually setting themselves up for disappointment, when the animal is gone before they're ready.  Like this person, she said she's moving.  So, why not move first and then, once settled in, then get the pet?  I just don't quite get it.  And what it comes down to, is that if I extend the 14 day hold for her, then to be fair to everyone else, they all should get extended holds as well.  EVEN IF they would never know that I extended the hold for someone, in my mind, it's not fair, so I don't care to do it.  But really... why is it so hard to say, ok, it's 14 day hold only, so I will wait until I only need the chin held 14 days?  Why should they get special treatment.

Ok, I'm done with my rant for the day.  Other than these few people, things are going well :D  Will post more about that another day...

Saturday, December 3, 2016

New Item -- hay cube holder!

So it's been a bit of time since I've had a new item to add to the store, but now we actually have something!  A hay cube holder!

So, it only looks little... it's actually 6" wide, 4.5" deep, and 8" high.  I had a customer that wanted a hay holder, so I made one, and it turned out halfway decent, so, it's going to be available now.  It has two bolts in the back, to attach it to the side of your cage. 

This was the original drawing for what I wanted it to look like... turned out halfway decent, eh?  

It will be $10 for the hay holder.  :D

Friday, December 2, 2016

Cost of Items and Adoption Fees

I've had a lot of people lately who have either missed sales, or wanted discounts, or whatever.  Let me share about a few of them for you.

One person saw my sale ad and asked about a chin.  I told them the price, said it was only going to be on sale for another few days (to make them aware, so they potentially had time to come adopt), and told them, after the sale, the chin would be regular price, and said what that price was.

So, naturally, sale ends, and they come to adopt and ask me if they can have it for a lesser price.  I said, sorry, no.  They did adopt for the regular price.

Now, before you say, what a bitch!  Think about this.  If the sale at Meijer ends Saturday, and you go there Sunday... is anything you say going to make that sale apply to you?  No.  It won't.

Even aside from sales themselves, I'm noticing a trend lately where people want to basically name their own price.  Apparently there should be Priceline for Chinchillas or something like that.  Anyway, people will literally text me and say, I know that chin is at this price, but would you take this?  Ok, here's the thing.  No one's asking me if I'll take less when they buy 3 chins, or when they buy a senior, or a chin with special needs.  These inquiries are all for tiny little babies that are just able to go home, that would have no problem finding homes.  Even better is when they want something specific -- hey, I should let them know when I have a curly female available, just weaned so they can get it as young as possible, oh and they'd like it for $150.  Thanks.  Um... no?

I do have the multi-chin discount, and if you don't know what that is, that's where if you buy a second chin, you get $25 off the total, and $25 off for every additional chin.  So, get three chins, $50 off the total, four chins $75 off the total, and so on.  And yes, people really have gotten four chins before.  The sales tend to be better deals than this, but that's the point, that's why they're sales.  This is just a minor incentive for people to get their chin a buddy.

Short of the multi-chin discount, if there's not a sale, the adoption fee is the adoption fee.  Again, not trying to be a mean crab, but... go to the Humane Society.  Go to any rescue out there.  Their stated fee is the stated fee.  If you don't like it, do you argue with it?  Well, maybe some of you do, since you ask me about the lower fees.  There's a breed-specific rescue out there that charges $400 for their adult dogs.  I would consider adopting one of them... but not for $400.... so I move along.  Key words there.  If people are unhappy about the prices, I tell them, feel free to wait for a sale (though the specific chin may not be here, there are others)...but honestly, you usually get less with a pet store animal, no support for the life of the animal, and then you all call me up when that pet store animal is sick anyway (and of course, I'm happy to help). 

The point is... it's incredibly frustrating when (I would like to think) people wouldn't ask a store to get the sale price the day after the sale, or ask for a discount for no reason ("hey, I know the baloney is $3 a pound, but can I have it for $2 a pound?  Just because").  Because they won't change the price for you.  And I know I've said it before, and I will say it again -- this is not a garage sale.   

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Shipping Costs (for items)

So, someone emailed and asked today if I charge money for shipping items.  If you have ever tried to buy something from my webstore or emailed me asking about getting items shipped to you, you already know the answer to this -- yes. 

But let me share why, in the world where everything is free shipping...

So, most of the items I sell are hardly marked up.  I think the highest mark-up I have on anything is 30%, and that's the herb sampler and supplement jars.  Now, let me break that down for you.  I don't know exact prices of this stuff, because I figured it out awhile ago, so please bear with me.

For me to get $8.50 to charge you for this, that means the herbs themselves and the jars they go in, together, cost $6.50.  Great, you say, you're making $2 on the jar!  Hold on, back it up.  Whatever portion of that $6.50 the herbs are, that's not including the cost to ship them here, that's the literal cost of the herbs when I buy them.  Same with the jars, I have to go get them.  Every time I order herbs from one of the two places, shipping is $15-20.  How many jars and herb baggies does that make?  I don't exactly know, but not many.  Say one order of herbs makes 40 jars, just to make it easy, so it's 50 cents per jar, with shipping divided out.

Well, someone has to put these jars together, as in, mix the herbs up.  If it was just a handful of this, a handful of that, it'd be real quick, but I've actually taken the time to figure out how many ounces (or half ounce, or 1/4 ounce) of each herb I want in there, to have a nice mix where all the herbs are well represented, without having too much of anything and too little of everything else.  So, I have a little sheet which tells me, ok, I need an ounce of rosehips, and ounce of rosebuds.. and so on.  So, I get all the bags out, scoop out the required amounts, and mix.  Wait!  I know you're saying, why don't you make one huge batch!  Well, the thing is, some of these herbs are significantly heavier than others.  I can fit 8 ounces (that's a half pound) of rosehips in a quart sized baggie.  But for calendula, 3 ounces almost fills a gallon baggie.  It's a lot lighter.  So say I mixed up huge batches... the rosehips, being heavy, will sink to the bottom, while the calendula will sit on top, being super light.  So, one jar at a time, I mix.  I don't pay myself, so there's no actual cost in this, but there is time. 

Oh and the labels.  Each jar has a cute little label on top that says what the jar is, and has a little chinchilla picture.  A lot of them come in a package, so for ease of this, let's just say, between printer ink to print them and the label itself (which naturally, are Avery labels, since the super cheap ones don't stick worth a crap), it's 25 cents per label.

But hold on... that amount of herbs mixed, mentioned above, doesn't quite fill the jar.  If you've ever opened one of these jars, you know that I pack them down quite well and stuff quite a bit in there.  Well, the amount mentioned above will fill the jar, but I need to top it off.  So usually I make one more batch of the mix after I've made my jars and use that batch to top off the almost-completed jars.  I never figured this amount into the cost (I know, really, all of this should have been figured in, but...).  Anyway, I can top off about 5 jars with one mix.  So, $6.50 divided by 5 jars is $1.30 in additional herbs.

And that's it! 

So we then have:
-Herbs $6.50
-Shipping / gas $0.50
-Time to measure out herbs and mix up jar
-Label $0.25
-Additional herbs $1.30
$8.55 cost + time

Well crud, I only charge $8.50 for the things!  The nice thing is, since they are herbs, they don't go bad and can pretty much indefinitely sit in those jars.  But see, the mark-up is from the price of what's literally going in. 

Same for the herbs that are in baggies -- I've never actually calculated what those baggies are costing me, per little herb bag sold.  And I know, you're out there saying, well, maybe you should.  Ok, grant me an extra few hours a day, and I gladly will.  LOL.

Anyway, for purposes of shipping, I'll pick a lighter item, say a toy.   The reason I didn't use a toy as the example is because there's much more labor involved, and I feel that's harder to price.  Anyway, let's say the toy is priced at $5, and it costs me $4.50 to make.  That $0.50 profit will not pay for shipping to you -- the lightest toy will still cost at least $3 to ship in a first class envelope.  So, hence, I charge shipping. 

The places that don't charge shipping or boast of this "free shipping" -- a lot of them are really making good money on their items.  I used to work at Meijer, and we could look up in the computer the price actually paid by the store for an item.  I have a diamond ring from Meijer that they sold at a price of $1100.  You know what they paid?  $110.  That is a 1000% markup!  People used to flock to the jewelry counter when they'd have 70% off jewelry sales... so that ring would be $330... heck the store was still making a 300% markup even with the 70% off sale! 

The point is, the free shipping sites are the same way.  My toys range from $4-8 unless you get some specialty holiday toy that's huge or something.  Some sites have toys that start at $15 and go up.  They can offer free shipping, because if that $15 toy costs $4.50 to make, just like my $5 toy, and costs $3 to ship, they're still making $7.50 on that toy.  And of course, you're not just buying the one toy, so of course with the combined profits from the multiple items, they can ship your entire order for free. 

The rest of us are happy with our $0.50, and have to charge for shipping.