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Author Topic: Schedule Management  (Read 1524 times)

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Offline pnyberg

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Schedule Management
« on: April 29, 2010, 09:07:36 PM »
Success brings its own problems. 

The new part time sawmill business is off and running.  Iím not certain how sustainable it is, since many of my jobs are the result of a fierce storm that hit the NYC area back in March.  These will taper off soon I suspect, but thatís just as well since Iím getting a bit tired of driving 100 miles each way down to Fairfield county. 

All of my customers are finding me via the Internet, one way or another.  According to Google Analytics, my web site is getting between 5 and 10 unique visitors a day from within the state of Connecticut, and those visitors are viewing 5 to 6 pages of my web site before moving on.   Fortunately, only a small fraction of these people are actually calling me or sending me email.

But enough people have called or emailed that Iím currently booked for the entire month of May.  This may not be as impressive as it sounds, since Iím only milling on weekends, and Iím trying to keep about half of those days free, since Iíve got plenty of work that I need to be doing here on the plantation.  So, about 4 jobs a month is enough to fill my dance card.

So far, my approach to scheduling has been that when a customer confirms an interest, I give them a date.  I always mention that weather is a factor, and they always understand that no one wants to work outside in a rain storm.  Since Iíve left free days in my schedule, I can deal with this to some extent.  If Iíve scheduled Smith on Saturday, and it rains cats and dogs, I can shift them to Sunday.  But what if it rains on Sunday too, or they canít do Sunday for some reason?  Smith will likely be thinking that whenever the weather clears, they will be my next customer.  But Iíve already scheduled Jones for the following weekend.  Why oh why did I ever buy a sawmill?

I know I canít continue to give customers firm commitments out into the indefinite future: ďIíll put you down for Saturday May 4, 2013Ē.  So, I suppose that at some point Iíll have to tell people that I can put them in the queue, and Iíll get back to them as they near the top.  But, any suggestions on how to work this scheduling thing in a way that annoys customers the least would be appreciated.

Thanks,
    Peter
No longer milling

Offline Dan_Shade

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Re: Schedule Management
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2010, 09:40:15 PM »
I've had that problem.

I've always tried to book only every other weekend, but most folks are have been pretty flexable when I had problems and had to postpone.

that may change with demographics of your area, though :)
Woodmizer LT40HDG25 / Stihl 066 alaskan
lots of dull bands and chains

There's a fine line between turning firewood into beautiful things and beautiful things into firewood.

Offline HOOF-ER

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Re: Schedule Management
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2010, 09:54:44 PM »
Not that these are mill customers, but same applies. I tell them when they call that I will put them on my list. I give them an approximation on the day or week when this may take place. Taking weather into consideration I usually only book a week or less out. I start calling the first on the list on down until it suits someone. Then I have work!
Home built swing mill, 27hp Kawasaki

Offline Cedarman

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Re: Schedule Management
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2010, 10:24:10 PM »
I would tell the customer that if the scheduled weekend is a rainout, the next date would be the next opening on your calendar.  If that is a month away then it is a month away. So you now have a scheduled date and a rain date.  If you don't have rain then the rain date opens up and you can schedule someone else for that weekend.  I hope this makes sense.
I am in the pink when sawing cedar.

Offline Magicman

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Re: Schedule Management
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2010, 10:34:12 PM »
Peter, we all operate differently, but I'll give you my method.  Before Katrina, I was scheduling using your method.  It was driving me crazy.  I was missing commitments.  I show up the second day, and there would be more logs than there was at the start.  He had cut more trees after I left.  I had my mill for sale.  I was quitting.

Well, Katrina came along.  I had so many jobs that I had to just tell folks.....when I get to you, I'll call.  If, in the meantime, you can't wait or get someone else to saw them...OK.

I still use that same strategy.  I schedule only one job, and that is the one I'm sawing.  When I finish, I call the next guy and we set up a saw date.  I have 11 jobs ahead of me now.  I started the year with 13, and have finished 8.  No way can you schedule and keep that many appointments.

You'll figure out your own way.  Just don't let scheduling run your life.
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Never allow your "need" to make money to exceed your "desire" to provide quality service.....The Magicman

Offline Dan_Shade

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Re: Schedule Management
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2010, 11:09:27 PM »
The part time gig can be pretty rough on you.

I really enjoy sawing these days, after I get the blade in the log.  Up to that point, I'm a grumbly/grumpy guy that tries to keep his mouth shut so the world doesn't know how grumpy I am.

I guess what I'm saying is if you work a 9-5, don't forget to schedule time for yourself or you will burnout quick.

I've had days when a job was cancelled by rain, and those days have been awesome!  haha

your mileage will definately vary with this one (DR_Buck tells me if I charged more money, i would be so grumpy!)
Woodmizer LT40HDG25 / Stihl 066 alaskan
lots of dull bands and chains

There's a fine line between turning firewood into beautiful things and beautiful things into firewood.

Offline Brucer

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Re: Schedule Management
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2010, 02:36:39 AM »
My situation's a bit different: I'm stationary, saw full time, and take weekends off. But ...

I do the jobs in the order I receive them. I've kept track of the numbers (boring) and I know how many BF I can saw per week, so I can tell the customers approximately when I'll complete their jobs. If they can't live with that, I send them to my competition. That little tactic has earned me lots of repeat business  ;D.

I always let the customers know if I'm running late. Most of them are contractors and can work around a delay. It helps them a lot if they know a week or two ahead of time that I'll be late.

When a customer gets near the top of the list, I always call to confirm that they still need me to do the job. Once in a while they've gone elsewhere -- no problem. Half the time they've thought of something else to add to the list :).

And ... I saw in the rain. I'd be out of business if I didn't. Good rain gear, waterproof boots, and plenty of gloves. It's no fun, but it's helped build my reputation as a reliable supplier. Mind you, if it starts to dump buckets, then I pack it in.

One thing I never do is let someone buy/bribe/beg their way to the top of the list. It's earned me a lot of respect.
Bruce    LT40HDG28 bandsaw with two 6' extensions.
"Complex problems have simple, easy to understand wrong answers."

Offline stonebroke

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Re: Schedule Management
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2010, 09:46:32 AM »
A good problem to have. Some of the slaughterhouses I haul to are scheduled out over a year. Course they do not have rainouts but it makes it a little hard on the farmer when he has to schedule for a animal that isn't even born yet.

Stonebroke

Offline rockman

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Re: Schedule Management
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2010, 11:25:14 AM »
Well Peter, The way I see it, the short answer to your question is buy a good Rainsuit....

 Dang, I'm sorry, I just couldn't help myself....
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