My business is expanding, and I needed factory space. My roommate suggested I rent the house round the corner from us. It has a large covered area and would be ideal for living and working. And she added: “Mother can share the space with you.” The next day I paid deposit.
I’m off to Sukhothai and when I came back on Friday, Mother and her siblings had already moved in. She wasted no time to convert the front of the house into a shop selling Khow Suey and beetle nut. I set her up with chairs and tables she quit her 70 baht a day job cleaning houses. Selling Khow Suey makes more money.
So my factory is providing jobs for three previously unemployed Burmese guys, a business for Mother selling Khow Suey, etc., and a comfortable house for a Muslim mother with her siblings and senile father.
Oh, and my landlord is one of Maesot’s finest: The Boys in Brown. Now Mother can rest assured that immigration is not going to raid the place at midnight.
Turning a minus into a plus!
The old saying “Two minuses don’t make a plus.” – you wrong! I’m a math teacher. A negative times a negative is a positive or – x - = + and I can proof it.
I had a hundred pepper mill sets made, and while I was happy with most of the work, I was not happy with the texture of many of the mills – they either did not have character or they had some discoloring. I had to scrap about thirty percent of the batch.
Then I had a stroke of genius, or more accurately, a stroke of luck. I was at a teak factory finishing their furniture in what is now very popular in Bangkok; antique white. I decided to give it a try. I have tried many things with teak so I was quite skeptical. But to my surprise the mill looked much better than I thought. The finish brought out the grain and the discoloring didn’t show. I decided to call it a salt mill. I was now also selling salt mills.
I put it on my website just to fill space, because a pepper mill needs a companion. There was immediate interest in the salt and pepper mill set. I realized grinding salt has become trendy and people were looking for a salt mill. And if they could find a salt and pepper mill set, they would even be happier, especially when it’s made from reclaimed teak.
So yes, I did turn a minus into a plus, and I also increased my sales potential. I’m no longer selling pepper mills, I am selling salt and pepper mill sets!
A happy customer
Customer from Sweden, let’s call him Mr. Gold, buys 2 kilos of Kampot pepper; one kilo black, one kilo white and pays for everything with PayPal. That’s great, except that I’m short of white pepper. I’ve only got 850 grams.
I didn’t want to lose the sale and decided to take my chances. I told Gold I would give him the balance in black and send the white when I get it. I had to go to Cambodia to renew my visa in any case. Gold is happy with my suggestion, emailing back ‘Good service.’
But luck is not on my side. The school does my visa in Bangkok and I’m not off to Cambodia for a while. I looked on the internet to buy Kampot pepper, but no luck. I phone, I google, I go on forums, but I can’t find a supplier.
Another month goes by and I receive a parcel in the post. It’s Gold’s pepper! It had been returned. I contacted him again, calling him this time. He’d moved. “Thanks,” he said. “I like your service.” He ordered more pepper, and added: “How about a set of those salt and pepper grinders that you are making now?”
Moral of the story: Customers love great service, and once you’ve earned their trust, they will always come back to you for more!
Another happy customer
Customers don't let you know when they are happy, only when they are not happy. So I'm always nervous when I get an email from a customer that we shipped to. Here's an email that I got recently from a British customer: "Just a quick note to say thank you Andre, they are much admired and wonderful service. - R" . He made my day!