||02-22-2006 05:57 PM
How This Works....
The work flow:
1. Mfgrs and/or dealers who advertise on the site should feel free to contact me with ideas for group buys.
2. I will post the ‘offer’ in this section with information on who to contact at the mfgr/dealer if interested. An order form may be available online for you to fax into the mfgr/dealer.
3. The manufacturer/dealer will update me periodically with information regarding the status of the group buy. I will copy/paste this updated information as a reply to the original post and note it on the front page of www.VansAirForce.net. This work flow puts the incentive and responsibility in the mfgr/dealer’s court, with the entire benefit going to the builder. Single point of contact. Single stop for updates.
The group buy can really be a minefield if approached incorrectly, and manufacturers/dealers rarely try it a second time. This setup minimizes the chance of stepping on any toes, and doing it the way the advertiser wants.
There are nearly 20,000 registered VAF Forum members and over 50,000 'lurkers' - nice, big numbers to entice mfgrs/dealers with.
I ask the moderators to delete posts promoting individual-sponsored group buys. Here is why:
The group buy thing always perplexes me, to be quite honest. I think I owe the community some of my thoughts regarding why I feel the way I feel - how I got to this point. I've never made a penny on them, nor do I ever want to. In theory it's a great idea, everybody who wants in gets a better price and the manufacturer sees more money on the books. In reality, and sadly I have more than one data point on this, there is almost always some unforeseen hiccup which ends up causing grief to all the people behind the scenes, people trying their best to make it work. To this day I'm blamed by some for individual-sponsored (and well intentioned) group buys in the past that experienced unanticipated problems, buys that I had no involvement in. The 'why of it' is because my forums were used to promote them, so the belief is that I had a hand in it some way. Nowadays, to avoid those unpleasant memories from repeating, I make sure that the manufacturer does all the talking from the very beginning, and that all the people who want in on the deal contact who the manufacturer wants them to. When the manufacturer calls the shots there are no surprises, and we get the highest probability of everyone being pleased. Plus it's a lot less work for all involved - the community wins.
Example of it going bad (using the Zulu purchase):
John Doe can get a 15% discount from ACS on the standard Zulu if he places a single order of 25 units. That requires him to get (24) of his RV friends to send him a total of $17,352 in U.S. currency before things can proceed. ACS requires (1) order of (25) headsets, not (25) orders of (1) headset. Did any of the checks bounce? Did PayPal take 3% from a few of the folks who insisted on using that? What about foreign exchange rates, or are you just doing it for the USA. So, lets assume that all works...now you have $17K in your bank account that didn't come from income. Your CPA will want to know about that! You can't give ACS a list of all your buddy's addresses for shipping (I called and verified this), the shipment has to go to one location (John Doe's house). We'll assume here that they shipped it to John's house for free, but in reality they won't be doing that because, well....it's a pallet of headsets. So, a truck shows up to your door with this pallet. Now you need to tear it apart so you can repackage the headsets with brown wrapping paper, then reship them to all the folks that wanted in on the buy. Estimate it to be at least $15 per headset - more for Alaska and Hawaii. You're going to insure all the packages, right? Boxes get lost. Then there is the guy who sent in a U.S. check but wants it shipped to Europe after the fact via an email. And the two guys where the address got smeared in the envelope sorting machine. So now you're having problems getting the units to about 5% of the people who paid for them, and it takes a couple of months to deliver in the end. How does that effect the warranty? Where do they vent? Who gets blamed? And don't think I'm making this up...these are actual things that have happened.
They have to get shipped twice, and somebody has to pay for that, so the best case scenario is your discount will be much less than was initially thought. John Doe will be out a few hundred dollars because of unforeseen circumstances on a couple of the units...he may actually end up buying another headset he didn't really want because somebody's fiscal life changed and they canceled the check (saw it happen once). It turns into an enormous time suck for the organizer and a headache for a few of the purchasers.
Then Doug will get blamed for some of it, forever, because Mr. Doe promoted it in his forums and it didn't go as promised. The posts complaining will start with something nice, like "This will probably be deleted, but Doug is a jerk."
Actual examples of this working out fine (company-sponsored):
1) Stein has some leftover inventory and wants to move it fast. He does the post. He is the contact, and when they sell he posts a reply with 'Sold' in the subject line. Doug doesn't make a penny, but several in the community get a good deal. Mission accomplished.
2) Sensenich has some can't-sell-as-new props and wants to move them. They email me the specifics and I post it. Sensenich is who you call if you're interested. No room for confusion and/or misrepresentation. Doug doesn't make a penny, but some folks in the community get a good deal. Mission accomplished.
3) Avery Tools has a truck load of tire tubes that they got a good deal on. They email me the specifics and I run it on the front page. All calls go directly to Avery Tools. No surprises. When they sell out, Bob calls my cell and says, "pull it off the site, they're all gone". Doug doesn't make a penny, but several in the community get a great deal on tubes. Mission accomplished.
Sorry to be such a stickler on the "group buys need to originate from the company themselves" thing, but I have been burned very, very badly in the past on this individual-sponsored stuff, about things I neither did nor said. The slings and arrows come out when problems arise, and the whole time I'm wondering what thing they are even talking about (because I wasn't in the loop). Fool me once...
Famous quote about trying to please everyone, "You can stand out on a street corner handing out $100 bills....and somebody will still call you an @sshole." Somebody will always be unhappy, no matter how good your intentions, and the web is a big place for folks to vent. It comes with the territory, I've been told. I'm a glass half full person, so I'm not going to say anything negative about anybody (but I will make fun of myself).
You want to do an individual-sponsored group buy on your own website, it's none of my business and I wish you well. Just do not promote it on my site at all, because it will most likely end up complicating somebody's life in a very negative, and possibly expensive way, and I'd prefer to not be a part of that.
What I strive to create here on VAF is a very small corner of the net where talk of airplanes and the joy of self-constructed flight bring a smile. A place where the backstabbing tendencies of this give-it-to-me-now-or-else world we're forced to live in are kept at bay for a few precious minutes each day. Too many haters in this world...I choose to not be one.