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Author Topic: My difficult customer ...one reason I don't saw for other people  (Read 2040 times)

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Offline Brad_bb

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My difficult customer ...one reason I don't saw for other people
« on: September 02, 2021, 10:25:52 PM »
I wanted to tell my difficult customer story after reading:  Customer requested discount...after the job was done...

This happened last summer and is the best to my recollection.  I know I had posted for some help on the board while this was going on, but not sure If I told the whole story?

I don't normally saw for others, but I made a deal with a tree service guy to trade him hours of his chipping for hours of my sawing some logs for him.  He brought one of his guys and they did my chipping in 9 man hours including travel.  I help speed them up by bring my banded piles of edgings and small slabs to him so he didn't have to move the chipping more than once.  He'd only sent me a small pic of his 6 logs.  They looked small in the pics and given what I could see in the photo, I figured about 7 hours to saw them.  I told him based on the picture I thought maybe 7 hours, but that was just and estimate based on the picture and it could be double that.  It was also based on cutting 2-2.5" slabs.  Well when he brought them (on a different day) they were much bigger  than they looked.  We had a discussion that the best two oak logs should be quarter sawn into boards.  I told him that was going to costs significantly more time, but it would be much nicer product for him. He gave the go ahead knowing the hourly rate.  I also told him that prep work was also needed to his logs as the logs needed thumbs trimmed and debarking.  I also needed to Timbor the wood to keep the boring beetles away.  I explained PPB to him.  With the go ahead it was clearly stated it was going to be over the original 7 hours, but I couldn't say how much. I started with the quarter sawing, doing RRQS.  They were my 4th and 5th time doing RRQS.  Well those two logs, with trimming prep, debarking, RRQS, , dust removal, Timbor, and stickering and banding  16 hours.  I did it like I do my own wood. The other 3 slabbed logs took  8 hours.  I knew I was in trouble after the RRQS logs time-wise.  It took a lot longer than I thought and I'm sure more than what he would have figured.  So I called him after the RRQS logs and told him how long I've spent but that the lumber was VERY nice, which it was.  I was ready to eat the extra time I'd already spent(16 hours-his 9 man hours) and stop here, or I could continue and slab the remaining logs and charge hourly ($60), which I thought was being very generous.  He balked at the cost so I said well, do you want me to keep Timbor'ing the wood? I recommended it, but he said no and to keep sawing.  Again, the original deal was to swap hours for hours, and I'd have to charge for anything above that, and I've already given away 7 hours.  

So I continued, and I removed all sawdust, stickered and banded all the slabs as I knew if I didn't, he likely wouldn't heed my warning and he 'd leave them and they'd mold and rot.  So I probably had another 11 hours in those.  I told him that but that I'd cut that down to 8 hours. so total would be $480.  Then he grumbled and balked referring to his time and equipment costs, and my original estimate that I thought I would be able to do it as an equal swap...  keep in mind I had prefaced everything with "from what I can see in the picture", which was a poor picture with little perspective.  I had clearly stated how the deal would work if it took more time, and I kept him up to date as I want along.  I had told him how much time I had in the job going along, but maybe he didn't believe me or didn't want to believe me?  In any case he continued to give the go ahead.  So after I had cut 10 total hours off (which was actually more but I didn't count everything), he was still unhappy.  I stood my ground on the phone and "that is was it was".  He finally agreed and we set a day for him come and load.  He had left his trailer but I wasn't putting anything on the trailer until he paid.  Also I wanted him to help dictate how he wanted his trailer loaded.

So the day he comes he again grumbles about the cost and it was clear he didn't want to pay anything.  It was clear he thought his time was highly valuable and either didn't believe how much time had in it, or didn't think my time was highly valuable.  He did ask at one point the cost of my mill, and at another point mentioned the cost of his truck and chipper.  Maybe that was his basis? He had more money in his equipment?  I don't know.  Well by that point I was tired of hearing it.  Between the phone call and his pick up day I thought of a solution to offer him that could benefit us both.  So I said, I'll make you an offer and it's up to you.  You can pay me what we agreed to on the phone,$480, or I can keep the Quarter sawn oak lumber and we'll call it done.  He thought about it and said he would like 4 of the QS boards and it's a deal.  

That is what we did.  The quarter sawn lumber was worth much more than $480 to me, so in my mind it made up for a few of the extra hours I had cut off.  He was happy not to have to pay any cash and he got all the slabs he wanted for countertops he wanted to make(Cherry and oak), plus enough QS boards for some shelves his wife wanted.  I had showed him the figure in the QS, but he still took my deal.  

I do not like dealing with people like that.  
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: My difficult customer ...one reason I don't saw for other people
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2021, 10:47:58 PM »
Brad,

   Sorry for the "learning" experience but glad you guys were able to resolve it. Obviously you learned some lessons such as getting more details such as the sizes of the logs. You made suggestions such as Tim Bor and quarter sawing which took longer and apparently neither you or he renegotiated before making this change. How long would the job have taken if you had simply sawed the originally planned 2-2.5 inch slabs?

   I have had plenty of "learning" experiences but few have been hugely negative. At least the next time I encountered a similar situation I knew better how to describe and quote the job.

   This week I turned down a job I had discussed with a man 100 miles away. I just never had a warm and fuzzy because of the distance and his concerns about costs and an uncertain response on the helper he'd have to provide. I came across another sawyer nearer hoping they would be able to handle the job and called and he gave me another contact also close by. Turned out that sawyer had sawed for the same guy and the site was difficult to access, the logs were full of metal and he had no help. Even after I told the customer I was declining the job he called back later and wanted me to find him someone else. If he calls again I'll tell him to bring them to me knowing he won't do that. 
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Offline barbender

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Re: My difficult customer ...one reason I don't saw for other people
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2021, 11:11:09 PM »
I steer clear of the bartering just because of these kinds of scenarios. I would approach it as, "how much for you to come over and chip my slabs etc?", and just get a dollar amount. If he wants some sawing done, it's x amount  an hour or whatever. 
Too many irons in the fire

Offline Lasershark

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Re: My difficult customer ...one reason I don't saw for other people
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2021, 11:21:11 PM »
I wanted to tell my difficult customer story after reading:  Customer requested discount...after the job was done...

This happened last summer and is the best to my recollection.  I know I had posted for some help on the board while this was going on, but not sure If I told the whole story?

I don't normally saw for others, but I made a deal with a tree service guy to trade him hours of his chipping for hours of my sawing some logs for him.  He brought one of his guys and they did my chipping in 9 man hours including travel.  I help speed them up by bring my banded piles of edgings and small slabs to him so he didn't have to move the chipping more than once.  He'd only sent me a small pic of his 6 logs.  They looked small in the pics and given what I could see in the photo, I figured about 7 hours to saw them.  I told him based on the picture I thought maybe 7 hours, but that was just and estimate based on the picture and it could be double that.  It was also based on cutting 2-2.5" slabs.  Well when he brought them (on a different day) they were much bigger  than they looked.  We had a discussion that the best two oak logs should be quarter sawn into boards.  I told him that was going to costs significantly more time, but it would be much nicer product for him. He gave the go ahead knowing the hourly rate.  I also told him that prep work was also needed to his logs as the logs needed thumbs trimmed and debarking.  I also needed to Timbor the wood to keep the boring beetles away.  I explained PPB to him.  With the go ahead it was clearly stated it was going to be over the original 7 hours, but I couldn't say how much. I started with the quarter sawing, doing RRQS.  They were my 4th and 5th time doing RRQS.  Well those two logs, with trimming prep, debarking, RRQS, , dust removal, Timbor, and stickering and banding  16 hours.  I did it like I do my own wood. The other 3 slabbed logs took  8 hours.  I knew I was in trouble after the RRQS logs time-wise.  It took a lot longer than I thought and I'm sure more than what he would have figured.  So I called him after the RRQS logs and told him how long I've spent but that the lumber was VERY nice, which it was.  I was ready to eat the extra time I'd already spent(16 hours-his 9 man hours) and stop here, or I could continue and slab the remaining logs and charge hourly ($60), which I thought was being very generous.  He balked at the cost so I said well, do you want me to keep Timbor'ing the wood? I recommended it, but he said no and to keep sawing.  Again, the original deal was to swap hours for hours, and I'd have to charge for anything above that, and I've already given away 7 hours.  

So I continued, and I removed all sawdust, stickered and banded all the slabs as I knew if I didn't, he likely wouldn't heed my warning and he 'd leave them and they'd mold and rot.  So I probably had another 11 hours in those.  I told him that but that I'd cut that down to 8 hours. so total would be $480.  Then he grumbled and balked referring to his time and equipment costs, and my original estimate that I thought I would be able to do it as an equal swap...  keep in mind I had prefaced everything with "from what I can see in the picture", which was a poor picture with little perspective.  I had clearly stated how the deal would work if it took more time, and I kept him up to date as I want along.  I had told him how much time I had in the job going along, but maybe he didn't believe me or didn't want to believe me?  In any case he continued to give the go ahead.  So after I had cut 10 total hours off (which was actually more but I didn't count everything), he was still unhappy.  I stood my ground on the phone and "that is was it was".  He finally agreed and we set a day for him come and load.  He had left his trailer but I wasn't putting anything on the trailer until he paid.  Also I wanted him to help dictate how he wanted his trailer loaded.

So the day he comes he again grumbles about the cost and it was clear he didn't want to pay anything.  It was clear he thought his time was highly valuable and either didn't believe how much time had in it, or didn't think my time was highly valuable.  He did ask at one point the cost of my mill, and at another point mentioned the cost of his truck and chipper.  Maybe that was his basis? He had more money in his equipment?  I don't know.  Well by that point I was tired of hearing it.  Between the phone call and his pick up day I thought of a solution to offer him that could benefit us both.  So I said, I'll make you an offer and it's up to you.  You can pay me what we agreed to on the phone,$480, or I can keep the Quarter sawn oak lumber and we'll call it done.  He thought about it and said he would like 4 of the QS boards and it's a deal.  

That is what we did.  The quarter sawn lumber was worth much more than $480 to me, so in my mind it made up for a few of the extra hours I had cut off.  He was happy not to have to pay any cash and he got all the slabs he wanted for countertops he wanted to make(Cherry and oak), plus enough QS boards for some shelves his wife wanted.  I had showed him the figure in the QS, but he still took my deal.  

I do not like dealing with people like that.  
Sounds like the perfect storm of thriftiness and entitlement. It just goes to show you can't do too much "value-adding" or you'll get taken advantage of by someone who has no idea what it takes to make boards out of logs
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Offline stavebuyer

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Re: My difficult customer ...one reason I don't saw for other people
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2021, 04:41:41 AM »
Sawmills seem to attract a high ratio of cheapskates looking for a deal. Low income areas eliminate many of the potential customers who would not flinch at the opportunity to pay a fair rate for something unique.

Small timers get to experience the joys of retail. Production gets you the joys of employees, insurance mandates, and little government tyrants.

I did more than enough of both. At times I miss running my firewood processor and my mill. Then I remember the equipment sales funded the purchase of my river hideaway. 



 

Now I deal with trespassers instead of cheapskate customers. They are cut from the same cloth(wanting something without paying or working for it). At least I don't have to go through pretense of being polite with trespassers.




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Re: My difficult customer ...one reason I don't saw for other people
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2021, 05:51:38 AM »
 
 To be honest, how can it take 16 hours to saw 2 logs.  I'd give up on that RRQS, takes too long plus a lot of waste.  Steve
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Offline HemlockKing

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Re: My difficult customer ...one reason I don't saw for other people
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2021, 06:12:52 AM »
I wanted to tell my difficult customer story after reading:  Customer requested discount...after the job was done...

This happened last summer and is the best to my recollection.  I know I had posted for some help on the board while this was going on, but not sure If I told the whole story?

I don't normally saw for others, but I made a deal with a tree service guy to trade him hours of his chipping for hours of my sawing some logs for him.  He brought one of his guys and they did my chipping in 9 man hours including travel.  I help speed them up by bring my banded piles of edgings and small slabs to him so he didn't have to move the chipping more than once.  He'd only sent me a small pic of his 6 logs.  They looked small in the pics and given what I could see in the photo, I figured about 7 hours to saw them.  I told him based on the picture I thought maybe 7 hours, but that was just and estimate based on the picture and it could be double that.  It was also based on cutting 2-2.5" slabs.  Well when he brought them (on a different day) they were much bigger  than they looked.  We had a discussion that the best two oak logs should be quarter sawn into boards.  I told him that was going to costs significantly more time, but it would be much nicer product for him. He gave the go ahead knowing the hourly rate.  I also told him that prep work was also needed to his logs as the logs needed thumbs trimmed and debarking.  I also needed to Timbor the wood to keep the boring beetles away.  I explained PPB to him.  With the go ahead it was clearly stated it was going to be over the original 7 hours, but I couldn't say how much. I started with the quarter sawing, doing RRQS.  They were my 4th and 5th time doing RRQS.  Well those two logs, with trimming prep, debarking, RRQS, , dust removal, Timbor, and stickering and banding  16 hours.  I did it like I do my own wood. The other 3 slabbed logs took  8 hours.  I knew I was in trouble after the RRQS logs time-wise.  It took a lot longer than I thought and I'm sure more than what he would have figured.  So I called him after the RRQS logs and told him how long I've spent but that the lumber was VERY nice, which it was.  I was ready to eat the extra time I'd already spent(16 hours-his 9 man hours) and stop here, or I could continue and slab the remaining logs and charge hourly ($60), which I thought was being very generous.  He balked at the cost so I said well, do you want me to keep Timbor'ing the wood? I recommended it, but he said no and to keep sawing.  Again, the original deal was to swap hours for hours, and I'd have to charge for anything above that, and I've already given away 7 hours.  

So I continued, and I removed all sawdust, stickered and banded all the slabs as I knew if I didn't, he likely wouldn't heed my warning and he 'd leave them and they'd mold and rot.  So I probably had another 11 hours in those.  I told him that but that I'd cut that down to 8 hours. so total would be $480.  Then he grumbled and balked referring to his time and equipment costs, and my original estimate that I thought I would be able to do it as an equal swap...  keep in mind I had prefaced everything with "from what I can see in the picture", which was a poor picture with little perspective.  I had clearly stated how the deal would work if it took more time, and I kept him up to date as I want along.  I had told him how much time I had in the job going along, but maybe he didn't believe me or didn't want to believe me?  In any case he continued to give the go ahead.  So after I had cut 10 total hours off (which was actually more but I didn't count everything), he was still unhappy.  I stood my ground on the phone and "that is was it was".  He finally agreed and we set a day for him come and load.  He had left his trailer but I wasn't putting anything on the trailer until he paid.  Also I wanted him to help dictate how he wanted his trailer loaded.

So the day he comes he again grumbles about the cost and it was clear he didn't want to pay anything.  It was clear he thought his time was highly valuable and either didn't believe how much time had in it, or didn't think my time was highly valuable.  He did ask at one point the cost of my mill, and at another point mentioned the cost of his truck and chipper.  Maybe that was his basis? He had more money in his equipment?  I don't know.  Well by that point I was tired of hearing it.  Between the phone call and his pick up day I thought of a solution to offer him that could benefit us both.  So I said, I'll make you an offer and it's up to you.  You can pay me what we agreed to on the phone,$480, or I can keep the Quarter sawn oak lumber and we'll call it done.  He thought about it and said he would like 4 of the QS boards and it's a deal.  

That is what we did.  The quarter sawn lumber was worth much more than $480 to me, so in my mind it made up for a few of the extra hours I had cut off.  He was happy not to have to pay any cash and he got all the slabs he wanted for countertops he wanted to make(Cherry and oak), plus enough QS boards for some shelves his wife wanted.  I had showed him the figure in the QS, but he still took my deal.  

I do not like dealing with people like that.  
Sounds like the perfect storm of thriftiness and entitlement. It just goes to show you can't do too much "value-adding" or you'll get taken advantage of by someone who has no idea what it takes to make boards out of logs
This is true of all trades, mechanics, welding, carpentry, everythings harder than it looks typically. Id hate to be a mechanic all the shoddy people youd deal with there, especially if you owned the place.
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Re: My difficult customer ...one reason I don't saw for other people
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2021, 08:22:29 AM »
It's funny how little people value the labor of others.  No-it is down right insulting.  The fly in the ointment in this scenario is underestimating the time it would take to saw the logs.  

After being burned a couple of times on bartered sawing, I prefer to pay for things I need and be paid for sawing I do.  It is cleaner that way. If someone wants to give me logs in exchange for sawing, I will buy the logs outright and he will pay me for my sawing.  If he doesn't like the price I pay for logs, he doesn't have to take that deal.  If he still wants me to saw, then the logs he wants to sell won't change the sawing deal.  

I will barter with a handful of friends and a couple of neighbors.  We just about bend over backwards to make sure everybody is happy.  Right now I owe a friend a half day of sawing lumber in exchange for a 2 ton truck load of firewood.  I owe him not because he thinks I do but because I think I do.  He will likely get a whole day of sawing and he will likely bring me another load of firewood and the cycle will continue until he needs no more lumber or I need no more firewood.  Because we are good friends we don't keep score but because we are friends we play fair.
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Re: My difficult customer ...one reason I don't saw for other people
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2021, 08:23:43 AM »

 To be honest, how can it take 16 hours to saw 2 logs.  I'd give up on that RRQS, takes too long plus a lot of waste.  Steve
Not to derail the topic, but at the last Sycamore project, even while discussing and demonstrating the technique in front of a crowd, we sawed a 300+ bdft log from start to finish in 38 minutes of easy sawing including gun barrelling.  That comes out to about 450 bdft per hour, zero misses, and we met the Doyle scale of the log.

Here's a video I made some time ago to show the process real time.  The RRQS action starts about 3 minutes in.  There is very little wasted motion or wood.  It takes about 6 to 10 minutes per log half, minus clearing the boards off the mill.  It's a technique that hard to describe but easy to show.  However, it is difficult with a manual mill.

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Offline DWyatt

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Re: My difficult customer ...one reason I don't saw for other people
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2021, 09:01:50 AM »
I will barter with a handful of friends and a couple of neighbors.  We just about bend over backwards to make sure everybody is happy.  Right now I owe a friend a half day of sawing lumber in exchange for a 2 ton truck load of firewood.  I owe him not because he thinks I do but because I think I do.  He will likely get a whole day of sawing and he will likely bring me another load of firewood and the cycle will continue until he needs no more lumber or I need no more firewood.  Because we are good friends we don't keep score but because we are friends we play fair.


I don't necessarily call that bartering, I call that being a good Friend and/or neighbor. I currently owe one of my friend's (a licensed electrician) a full built in cabinet around his gun safes. Not because we agreed to it when he came down and helped wire up my new house for no cost, but because in my house we take care of those who take care of us. His cabinet will be the first project out of the new shop I am going to build this fall which he will probably help me wire up and insist that I don't owe him anything.

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Re: My difficult customer ...one reason I don't saw for other people
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2021, 09:15:39 AM »
I agree that's what friends do, but that's the extent of my bartering - swapping work with friends and neighbors.  Others get paid for what they do, I get paid for what I do.  
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Re: My difficult customer ...one reason I don't saw for other people
« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2021, 12:40:31 PM »
I'm with that.  As soon as WalMart and Publix takes barter so will I.  I'll do it with friends, but not for business.
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Offline moodnacreek

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Re: My difficult customer ...one reason I don't saw for other people
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2021, 01:26:46 PM »
The other day a guy stopped by and asked if I would saw 4 w. oak that he would deliver. I said I did not want to. He dropped a good name. I said I would if the logs where good. He dropped off 4 curved, busted, 12" knoted, tree service aspen. Now he wants to come here with his chain saw and learn how to clean up junk logs and bring his friend. I have more work than I can do. And am trying to close to start new installation.  Sawing for others never works here.  Oh, the aspen logs are big,it's the knots that are 12".

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Re: My difficult customer ...one reason I don't saw for other people
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2021, 02:36:55 PM »
He can't tell the difference between oak and aspen? Tell him either they are cleared out or they will be firewood, you don't need the aggravation.
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Re: My difficult customer ...one reason I don't saw for other people
« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2021, 06:16:48 PM »
This all reminds me of the favor that I did for my neighbor next door. I felled 3 trees for her that she wanted riddance of AS LONG AS I can keep the wood. She said I cant beat a deal like that! & all was good. I bartered with her and we we are both extremely happy. I have an even BETTER neighbor (now a good acquaintance) thats starting to hover on the friend mark for Goldie & I. But I can see how life could have gone south at ANY moment.
Trying harder everyday.

Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: My difficult customer ...one reason I don't saw for other people
« Reply #15 on: September 03, 2021, 09:06:28 PM »
  The key to a proper barter is both customers leaving happy with the deal. You take something you no longer need or enjoy making and trade for something you want and need/want more.

    When I moved to WV I had never bartered but once here I found it was common and expected and I got in the swing of it and enjoy it. Of course working overseas in the mid-east and Africa taught me the real art of the barter.
Howard Green
WM LT35HDG25(2015) , 2009 4wd Dodge PU, Kawasaki 650 ATV, Sthil 440 & 441, homemade logging arch (w/custom built rear log dolly), JD 750 w/4' wide Bushhog brand FEL

Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline Cedarman

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Re: My difficult customer ...one reason I don't saw for other people
« Reply #16 on: September 04, 2021, 07:46:22 AM »
Women are some of the best barterers out there.  They sneak up on you.  When I was custom sawing many years ago, we would get to the end of the day and start tallying up.  She would come out with a bunch of cookies or brownies wrapped up and say take these home with you. Now she might have $10 bucks or so tied up in making those cookies, but it always helped shrink the tally.  Traded sawing for cookies.  Yup, both sides came out ahead.
Good barterers know best deal can be made trading food and/or beer for sawing.
And both sides go away happy.
I am in the pink when sawing cedar.

Offline moodnacreek

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Re: My difficult customer ...one reason I don't saw for other people
« Reply #17 on: September 04, 2021, 08:24:25 AM »
A girl with the right personality will do better than any man.

Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: My difficult customer ...one reason I don't saw for other people
« Reply #18 on: September 04, 2021, 08:25:42 AM »
   A simple smile or joke and an honest expression of your admiration for another's craftsmanship goes a long way to setting up a good barter/trade too.
Howard Green
WM LT35HDG25(2015) , 2009 4wd Dodge PU, Kawasaki 650 ATV, Sthil 440 & 441, homemade logging arch (w/custom built rear log dolly), JD 750 w/4' wide Bushhog brand FEL

Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline Crossroads

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Re: My difficult customer ...one reason I don't saw for other people
« Reply #19 on: September 04, 2021, 07:43:32 PM »
Sorry about your bad experience Brad. 
2017 LT40 wide, Kubota l185dt, 2-036 stihl, 2001 Dodge 3500 5.9 Cummins, l8000 Ford dump truck, hr16 Terex excavator, Farmi logging winch, Valley je 2x24 edger, Gehl ctl65 skid steer


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