Hey guys...we need a little rallying here... - Page 393 - AVS Forum
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post #11761 of 11782 Old Yesterday, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by antisuck View Post
Erich, I think most of us get that money is not a priority for you in all this. We may not understand why, but you've been very clear on that point. What is troubling about your posts today, beyond the glimpse of how hard this has been on you, is that you are talking about doing a whole lot more work that will certainly benefit your customers but is in no way guaranteed to make things easier for you going forward.

There are a few directions you could take this thing, but it mostly boils down to a couple of choices IMHO:

- step things up to the point it becomes a real business with employees to do some of the grunt work, continue to provide the amazing service you have proven so capable of, and reap whatever rewards you feel appropriate

- scale it back to a manageable load for you until it is once again something you can enjoy doing 100%, either by cutting the number of products or cutting back on support, or both.

I'm worried that by striving to implement the above laundry list of improvements in documentation and instructions etc., even if you scale back on the number of kits, you'll still end up attracting more customers with no experience or even a real interest in DIY audio and get stuck with all the more expectations of support. Maybe even a net increase in workload. That would really bite.

I have no business giving advice, but there's another 2 cents anyway for what they are worth.
Think your right. More info may cut emails from 60 to 40 a day but thats still a lot. A couple of hours a day can be fun. 30 hours a week is a gorilla on your back.
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post #11762 of 11782 Old Yesterday, 06:47 PM
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Is it to much to ask to have a dedicated thread on whatever designs and the designer can respond there?

Others would help and when the designer can he will respond.
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post #11763 of 11782 Old Yesterday, 06:51 PM
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This is the end.....

My only friend the end.....
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post #11764 of 11782 Old Yesterday, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Bassment View Post
I agree, the best part of DIY sound group is that they developed and sell products that are designed very well and work really good, and are an amazing value. The whole point of do it yourself is to be able to cut wood, order crossover components and perform basic soldering.
+1

By making a total kit so turn key it attracts a traditionally non DYIer, which leads to more questions, more work, more parts, more kits, more flat packs, more inventory issues, more purchaser support... Etc... Etc...

I don't see the point carrying stuff PE does unless you make a profit on it. Why got though the trouble of trying be a retailer when your clearly don't want o be a retailer ?

Just sell the parts PE doesn't and list the part numbers so people can source themselves.

Who cares about free shipping ? Or the dealer discount at PE ? It only subsidizes pain ... Shipping and stocking parts is pain.

As a true DYI ER I'm really only interested in the stuff I can't source myself. Cross over deign ... Waveguides, Cheap compression drivers etc...

I don't need a turn key kit with a flat pack. I'm not sure I understand why that's necessary. It's certainly nice to have but I'd choose a bunch of dedicated build threads with parts list and crossover schematics over a turn key kit every time. I think idea of a designer or design thread makes a lot of sense to take some weight of your shoulders. Someone has a question ask there.

Make a list of descriptions or stuff you need, I'll write it so you can copy paste.
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post #11765 of 11782 Old Yesterday, 07:35 PM
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Originally Posted by rlhaudio View Post
Rather than directing people to AVS, they should be directed to the DIYSG forum. What are the 20 biggest questions you get asked all the time? Lets us reply to those and start a FAQ section.
Yup. This thread has run so long that info is buried too deep to find easily. That leads to too many questions being endlessly repeated.

Maybe a master thread for each design on the DIYSG forum could have a sticky post detailing the genesis, intent and capability of that design, and serve as a starting point for research. Further questions and comments in that thread would be easily searchable for folks new to the group.

Erich - do what you need to do to keep sane and have a life!

Bill
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post #11766 of 11782 Old Yesterday, 08:06 PM
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Charging more per kit can be a way to minimize your stress and work load. Hire a helper, hire a web designer, stock more crossover parts. Anything to make it easier on you.

Hardest thing for an entrepreneur to do is delegate.......
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post #11767 of 11782 Old Yesterday, 08:27 PM
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Yes, there will be an dedicated area for each speaker. But again, that's not too much of a problem. What I'm having a hard time explaining here is that I really just need to better document each design with photos and instructions.

I can start a thread on the DIY site in about 1 minute. But I need to gather information for the kit itself, like photos, instructions, crossover layouts, assembly tips, where to put the crossover, what kind of wire, glue, acoustic foam, etc. That's what will take a long time. On the main site I will need to figure out how to explain the SEOS waveguide, or why a certain speaker is bigger/better than another. There's literally zero information on some kits. Every time I look at the Fusion-8 or Fusion-12 pages I shake my head and wonder why people would even order them. They're great, but there is literally no info about them at all. The Fusion-15 is even worse. It's said "More info coming"......for about 2 years.

That stuff is why I feel the site needs to temporarily go down so it can be done properly. I just can't package things anymore with the thought of "Good luck on your build". This month has had more frustrated emails than usual, probably because they had family coming over for Christmas and weren't able to show off their work.

This probably sounds kind of funny, but it's from a very frustrated person in an email on Friday.....which was the final straw that made me want to make the change. This isn't the first email like this either.

"Long story short, I just had a temper tantrum like an 8 year old boy and my sloppy half ass crossovers got chucked across the room and are now in many pieces strewn across the floor. I realize I need to pay for the parts again, but can I just order the assembled crossovers so I don't have a brain aneurysm?
I feel pretty stupid now sitting here with assembled speakers that I can't use because I had to spazz out over the crossovers."


He was very nice and obviously knew he messed up. I feel bad about that because honestly, I may have done the same thing. But I always wonder how many people have their crossovers assembled wrong, or how many simply gave up because a crossover schematic is just not enough for many people. I literally plan to contact every single person that has ordered a SEOS speaker kit over the past 2.5 years and direct them to whatever information I can come up with.
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post #11768 of 11782 Old Yesterday, 08:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erich H View Post
"Long story short, I just had a temper tantrum like an 8 year old boy and my sloppy half ass crossovers got chucked across the room and are now in many pieces strewn across the floor. I realize I need to pay for the parts again, but can I just order the assembled crossovers so I don't have a brain aneurysm?
I feel pretty stupid now sitting here with assembled speakers that I can't use because I had to spazz out over the crossovers."

He was very nice and obviously knew he messed up. I feel bad about that because honestly, I may have done the same thing. But I always wonder how many people have their crossovers assembled wrong, or how many simply gave up because a crossover schematic is just not enough for many people. I literally plan to contact every single person that has ordered a SEOS speaker kit over the past 2.5 years and direct them to whatever information I can come up with.
I may not assemble the crossovers very fast, and they don't always look the neatest but I would be willing to assemble crossovers for you if that would help. I run a business also but days that are not busy I could be doing crossovers.

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post #11769 of 11782 Old Yesterday, 09:06 PM
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post #11770 of 11782 Old Yesterday, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Face2 View Post
Exactly what I was thinking. Get the community involved without clogging the forums.

Downloadable FREE demo discs:
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1475769/de...ently-authored 

Did you really need to quote that entire post in your reply?
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post #11771 of 11782 Old Yesterday, 09:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erich H View Post
"Long story short, I just had a temper tantrum like an 8 year old boy and my sloppy half ass crossovers got chucked across the room and are now in many pieces strewn across the floor. I realize I need to pay for the parts again, but can I just order the assembled crossovers so I don't have a brain aneurysm?
I feel pretty stupid now sitting here with assembled speakers that I can't use because I had to spazz out over the crossovers."
Sorry, but this person SHOULD feel stupid. I'm smart enough to realize I have no interest in assembling a crossover and, as a result, will only order a kit for which an assembled crossover is available.
It's not rocket science, folks.

Then again, my wife and I recall our favorite bumper sticker:
"You can't fix stupid."

Michael

Downloadable FREE demo discs:
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1475769/de...ently-authored 

Did you really need to quote that entire post in your reply?
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post #11772 of 11782 Old Yesterday, 09:16 PM
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Yup .... That sounds like the dude pushed the big red reetard button.
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post #11773 of 11782 Old Yesterday, 09:27 PM
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How awesome would a youtube video review for each kit showing assembly tips, best intended use, music playing through completed kit, etc. seems like it would take a lot off of Erich's plate. I would volunteer to do one for the alpha minions that I want to order.
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post #11774 of 11782 Old Yesterday, 09:34 PM
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Nah, I've gotten very frustrated with things like that as well. I've even thrown things a few times too, so I can relate to his comment. He was being 100% honest and as mentioned, that's not the first email like that either.

The goal is to cut down on any frustration and make things easier.
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post #11775 of 11782 Old Yesterday, 09:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrevo2u View Post
How awesome would a youtube video review for each kit showing assembly tips, best intended use, music playing through completed kit, etc. seems like it would take a lot off of Erich's plate. I would volunteer to do one for the alpha minions that I want to order.
Not a bad idea. I think here may be a add on to that.

How about Erich you host a gtg. Get a dozen people to come. Those who come have to assemble your big hitters
1099
Fusion 15
Fusion 12
Fusion 10 max
Fusion 8

Erich only needs to provide his living room. People coming get the privaledge of participating and they assemble speakers in flatpacks prior to coming. Speakers are fully finished. After gtg they can keep them(at reg price) or sell them on avs classifieds.

By having a gtg a dozen people can hear all the main speakers and give impressions in a dedicated thread. If Erich can't host then someone in his town.

We get people saying the specs are better on this one, or xo lower. Better directivity but who has heard 1099, fusion 15 and tempest. Not many.

I really found the couple of gtg helpful when I decided on picking my speakers. Much more then stats, specs, or one person's opinion.

My 2 cents...
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post #11776 of 11782 Old Yesterday, 09:56 PM
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The background info content generation, Q&A and FAQ jobs sound like something that is best left to a crowd sourcing model. Even with step by step instructions and a well written FAQ, the same questions will inevitably come up over and over. 100 emails per day something you get at a full time job, and there seems to be enough people volunteering to help so why not divide the grunt work.


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post #11777 of 11782 Old Yesterday, 10:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erich H View Post
Keep in mind that none of my comments about this decision have anything to do with money or profit. Not at all. So no reason to worry about that.

I'm more concerned about getting things better documented to not only cut down on emails but to also help shrink any problems people might run into with the kits. Better documentation, instructions, explanations of SEOS waveguides, polar charts, placement options, power requirements, speaker specs, photos, what makes Speaker X more than Speaker Y, what speaker for this size room, max output, why are there silver tips on the end of inductors, should those be cut off, etc, etc. Basically there are massive holes in explaining the speakers and I want to try and fix that.

It would not be good to direct questions to the AVS forum because it would overwhelm the DIY section. I remember earlier in the year where almost 60% of the threads on the first page were about the kits. That's not a good thing and actually shows the problem I'm talking about.

The reason I thought about making the Alpha models only come with an assembled box, assembled crossover, acoustic material, binding posts, and everything else was to really cut down on errors. But now I get more emails asking how much the kits are without all of those things. So I'll probably need to rethink those or move them somewhere else.

As mentioned, I really enjoy doing this and won't be stopping any time soon. But I'm 110% maxed out mostly due to poor explanations and directions that I just can't seem to get caught up on. So that's why I feel the site needs to be shut down and started over to make things easier on everyone and get a better handle on how it's being handled. In the end it will make things much better.
Erich,

Believe it or not I have actually operated some online websites/businesses before and now. I have some that are the largest in my country, for example a Pet Community that helps people get their dogs/strays adopted (so far over 25,000 animals have been adopted on my site since it's launch about 8 years ago)....

And you're spot on about the support issues. This is where most people fail especially when it's a one man operation or an operation that is growing faster than cash flow can allow for the hire of additional support staff or to even train the right staff.

Over the years, I have learned a trick or two about this and have incorporated them into any web projects I do. I spent most of the time in the beginning of a project building these into all my websites and once they are done, very little work is required.

1. A control panel for all your back-end activities (this is operation dependent, such as member admin, website maintenance, etc). Every single activity that you need to do on a weekly basis needs to be automated/built into this control panel. Once it's done, your workload on those activities will almost disappear or becomes very fast. For instance, i have a control for managing members on my community site which includes forums, comments, blogs, etc, and with a click of a button, i can suspend a member, and wipe out all their posts in all softare for the site, for instance vbulletin for the forum, and other software for other activities... this is very helpful for spammers / bots. In fact, i can list members like 50-100 at a time and check all and do the same thing for all of them at once.. this is a particular issue that I face and you probably do not because i run community sites. But with your operation, anything can be built in.

2. Support. Stop ALL emails communications. (except if you like, customers'). Buy an easy to use Ticketing and Support script. Basically, everyone who wants to ask a question needs to go to your website, sign up as a member, and then ask the question online. Then for every question people ask, write a complete and full reply in your faq and the ticketing system. When you answer the questions, you only need to tick 'the number of the question on your database' and the software will cut and past the replies there... if you encounter a unique question, enter it into your database again. There are only so many questions people can ask. Eventually you'll have ready made answers for 90% of all queries. And you can answer each one almost perfectly. Once you have done that and you think you have most of the questions done and be able to do this in your sleep, hire someone part time that works from their 'home' to do the answers for you, or the ticketing support for you. Only if there's a question that the person don't know how to do, do they escalate it to you. You can hire a part time, freelance support person for something like $500/month. Go to Freelancer.com, and put up a job post there... hire someone who can write english well and you can train them to do 90% of the job.

3. Of course this is what you're planning already.. streamline your product range. Too many different products introduces more work. And if there are products that are too similar, they can be cut off... And this is basically the same as number 1, but for products, spend a lot of time documenting each product so that people who needs certain info can get it from the site, and those lazy will still be answered by your ticketing system.

4. Profit. I know this is a dirty word around here. I see you as someone who is 'helping the DIY community'. Let's make an analogy. Who do you think helps more people? Someone who's completely un-selfish, spends their entire life helping out others, or someone who looks after themselves first, make money, and then use some of those money to help others? Take Bill Gates for instance, he alone helps hundreds of millions of people. If he had spent his entire life volunteering in the mud building house for the poor, how many would he help? I have this philosophy as my own. Do I go about picking up stray dogs myself or use my skills to create a website and allow the community to use that tool to do the job? Granted, when i was younger i spend time getting dogs adopted myself, but i could never get 25,000 done. So, if you even put in an extra 10%, you could potentially hire a couple of helpers, which in turn makes your website a far better oiled machine and you'll be able to help MORE diyers instead of having to shut it down and reopen now and then...

5. Reduce products, but increase options, bearing in mind, helping more people obtain the speakers they want and at the same time profiting more which you can either use to expand the offerings/services, ie, give back to the community, etc... Example of options I have in mind are:

For each product, offer these options:

a) A plan they can buy for $9.90 (this is pure profit for you as you do nothing but deliver them a PDF copy via email). Why is this helpful? I know you're thinking of creating a DIY product that is as simple as possible for most people to enjoy great speakers for a fraction of the price of similar commercial speakers, but there are bound to be people who, for a multidude of reasons would be better off with just a plan, for example, foreigners who may be able to source certain products themselves. This could actually be broken down to crossover plan plus drivers, for instance.

b) Whole kit without the flat packs.

c) Whole kit with the flat packs

d) Options for flat packs, the hi-fi finish you're coming out with.

e) Completed speakers.

Note: Some of the options looks like they are not viable now, like perhaps completed speakers, but with more profits, you could eventually do it... and it's counter-intuitive, but the more profits you get, the happier you become and work becomes 'fun'... and you'll be able to offer others more services rather than less..

Anyways, just my small 2 cents... i am sure you probably have thought of all these...

I for one, will always be rooting for you... i am glad i managed to get a few kits from you before your shut down..
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post #11778 of 11782 Old Yesterday, 10:46 PM
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I'll bet the biggest problem with someone wanting to DIY is the "Crossover Assembly". Im sure everyone knows how to measure and cut a straight line. Yes the proper tools help a lot. I bet the scariest thing for a newbie is the dreaded crossover. I could document "Step by Step" instructions with pictures and even a video that a 10 year old could follow. Even parts express has videos showing how to assemble a crossover. I bet that would cut down on many questions and solve most the problems. As an I.T. director, everything was documented and instructions would be sent to the "end user" with the least p.c. knowledge. If they could follow along, everyone could. Then you can worry about describing your speakers strengths and weaknesses.
You could do the same for flat pack construction too.
I think a GTG would be great, you would feel less stressed if you were able to meet the people willing to help.


Great suggestions everyone
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post #11779 of 11782 Old Yesterday, 10:55 PM
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I could be way off, but I feel like if the DIYSG forum was utilized more, it would cut down on questions to Erich. I recently checked, and the forum posting over there was VERY minimal, and replies were low as well. If those of us who have completed kits or knowledge of speaker building were to check in and get that forum a bit more active, it certainly wouldn't hurt.

Also, I am guilty of this myself, but Erich mentioned the lack of reviews compared to the number of kits he has sold. Those that want to help Erich, that seems like a simple way to pitch in a little.

In regards to the profit, maybe instead of tacking on a % to each order, what if there was just a flat "handling fee" charged to each order. It might not cover the time it takes to organize and package a 7 speaker setup, but when you average in the smaller orders, it would probably help.

Just throwing ideas out there.
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post #11780 of 11782 Old Yesterday, 11:11 PM
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I think Erich needs to give certain individuals admin access to the website, I bet it would be quite easy for me to put together all the info needed to update say the Fusion-15 page and then link to a thread on the DIY sound group forum that has assembly tips and instructions for that specific design. It would also allow anyone who has questions about that design to ask them there. Have this done for all the main designs and it should really cut down on questions and emails going to Erich.
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post #11781 of 11782 Old Yesterday, 11:22 PM
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I don't know who designs what speaker, but what if each kit page had a "email the designer" link, where the designer of each kit would receive emails for their speakers. It would put work on the designers, but would spread out the questions from all going to Erich. If the designer isn't around anymore or isn't willing to answer emails, perhaps someone else that owns that specific kit and has assembled it, listened to it, and has good knowledge of DIY could take over as the main contact for that speaker.
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post #11782 of 11782 Old Today, 12:09 AM
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Tons of good suggestions above. I'm gonna add something then leave it alone. Couple weeks ago the family was in from all over, for the week. Everyone wanted to help with the theater build. I felt bad and could have used the help so I let them. Their all expert craftsman and contractors indifferent fields. Need;less to say. that wasn't a good idea. The do-overs cost me atleast a week or more and I have no one to blame but myself. My cousin even said I here to help in anyway but I understand you have a particular way you want it done and want too do it yourself. I should have listened instead of trying to hurry. So I understand where Erich coming from. Non profit companies are built with volunteers that contribute time and funds. Theres been several successful ID speaker companies started from simple DIY beginnings. I hope Erich and his team of designers continue their efforts for the DIY community.

Twenty Five models? Thats far to much. Time to clean out the garage and streamline. Think "In and Out Burger" here(I hear the "whats that?" coming). Menu- Hamburger, Cheeseburger, Fries. Thats it. My vote is 5x Mains/LCR's, 2x surrounds, and 3-4 different subs for small and large, ported and sealed. If a speaker get updated it becomes V2, V3 and so on. Then allow us to provide pics to you for editing and posting to websites as well as info and such. For instance Not's picks of his speakers on the owners thread are easily brochure quality.
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