Blog # 30

The time was the mid 80’s, we were computerized, but not yet cybernized. Our Single and Double seat scooters were perking along, and with a still fairly limited budget, we grew gradually. Our 1986 Literature mailout included A 4 color Brochure, Order Form, a Palmergram and a sheet containing customers pictures, commendations and complaints.
The brochure was designed, as best I could, to resemble a photo album. It had old, small B & W pictures of our family and larger colored pictures of different views of the the electric scooters we made. Had you requested this catalog over the 40 years we’ve been in business, you would have seen the people in the large color photos becoming the age of the people in the old pictures. We just updated product views and used same folks also updated.
The Palmer Independence scooter in 1986, cost 2100 bucks. The Palmer Twoseater, 2500. There were 26 Optional Accessories one could purchase for them. Today’s costs: PI Independence $5000. PI Twosome $5500. Today’s Optional Accessories number 65. The Order Form listed 2 vehicles in 86, We now sell 23 motorized and non motorized.
The Palmergram was a small 4 page newsletter full of mostly “stuff” we woman like. It came out twice year, had hints and tricks for the one who piloted their scooter, about how to fix minor things, keep it waxed and how to take care of bat†eries if being gone 2 or 3 months. Also what you could purchase locally that would save you shipping cost from us. Each “gram” had a recipe from one of my family. Not me! Am a lousy cook and as Jack says, “Her timer is the smoke detector”. It also contained quotes that seemed to fit the times but offended no one.
At that time, most sales were made by sending literature out to inquiries that read our Ads. Brochures, and newsletter and pictures plus the postage to send them amounted to quite a bit. We stuffed them ourselves and finally got a postage meter that ka-chinged away our money in what seemed nano seconds to me. But it did save time. We answered every inquiry with a mailing and never sold or gave away an inquirers’ name, address or phone number as did many of our competitors. The computer has certainly changed the path of marketing. I know a guy that has never made anything that is useful to society, never went out to work a day in his life, yet makes more money than we ever will selling things on Ebay that he never sees, touches, or mails. He has item drop shipped from supplier to customer. And here’s what makes me the maddest, I can’t figure if I hate his ability to so easily make money or admire him for getting away with it. And what, if anything, is he guilty of? This thinking is very tiring.

Blog #29

Just learned of the Great Historical find of the Skull of Richard 111. I am so excited that England, and for that matter, all the world has found another piece of humanitie’s past. The world is so full of wonderful surprises. I won’t dwell on it but am feeling, Hot Diggity Dog, it’s Dickie!

Having spoken of a few of the competitors, I’ll speak of the business scenerio that occurred after we were computerized. Competition became stronger yet we were busy improving our scooters or outdoor wheelchairs or what ever you wished to call them depending on the use of it. Our first benefit of computers was to simplify the paperwork. It was so useful to keep track of owners of our products. Once we learned to operate it correctly, we put in the information we had on our Index Cards and it was a lot. We keep a profile on every product. Other than what and who purchased it, we are able to continuously update the vehicles record. We made our own little ” Vehiclefacts” before we ever heard of “CarFax”. Each scooter purchase date, location, configuration when new, added accessories, replaced parts, accidents, changed battery configuration, kind of use, new owner, new location, condition when told, if stolen, damaged or if we worked on it for any reason is in our computer records. So now in 2013, if someone buys a used one from a previous owner, we can tell, age, any parts or configurations changed and can with confidence send the correct part if needed. I think our computer has helped our products survive the test of time. Not too many people were on the earlier computers, so sales did not come through e-mails. Our customers are generally above 50 and it takes a long time for we older folks to adapt to new fangled things. Even using the computer early on I didn’t realize the potential it brings to communication. I hear snoring, so fare thee well till we meet again.

Blog # 28

OH boy, Oh boy, this is our quieter time so I get to blog some more. As I said in last blog, we had many who jumped on our band wagon we were steering toward wealth. Competition is a two headed animal. It’s good because it keeps us on our toes and always trying to improve our products. It’s good to meet the honest competition at trade shows. You have a lot in common and can help each other in many ways. It’s nice to see same folks at the business gatherings away from home and hear their updates on what worked and what flopped this year. Unfortunately those were few in number. But there were a lot of Yahoos jumping on the band wagon. They were the other head of competition. Seldom did they introduce themselves as to who they were or their product. And if they did, it was usually to gain your confidence for some kind of benefit to them alone.
My first experience was with a fresh from college young man who came into our booth and made fun of our product, He brought a couple of young, rude dudes who agreed with his loud criticism. I was surprised at his attitude but age was on my side. A few months later, there was an exact copy of the derided product in his booth. The business was formed with Daddy’s money and the guy had purchased 10000 motors like we used. He later tried to sell us the motors that did not sell.
Then there was the Tricycle Manufacturer who had a contract with Sears. He bought some motors and sold them on his trikes. This was the Summer season and at the fall Show, there he was, in his usual booth, with his own motor kit on his trike and said, “I made a better one”. It looked very much the same as ours. He went out of the motor kit business the next year.
A couple had some good ideas, but strangely, having the best product doesn’t sell it. Remember VHS and Beta? No doubt about the best, but Beta didn’t have the marketing acumen so all bought VHS. And for myself, I’ve made many a “faux pas” like yelling at the kids to stop playing those stupid video games. They won’t benefit you in any way in life.
Last month, I learned some of the best players are now Pilots. Drone Pilots. Well, shut my mouth for now!