What Keeps You Awake at Night?
Nobody ever said custom was an easy business, at least nobody who's ever actually run one. First, consider the challenges that are specific to the trade: fast changing technologies, a faster-changing distribution and retailing environment and extensive learning curves for both personnel and potential customers. Now add to that the challenges that every small business faces: how to manage cash flow, workforce and schedules; how to fend off competition and promote your company; whether to add staff or outsource; how to create strategic alliances; how to survive uncertain economic times.
The custom business is a deft blend of traditional and next-generation challenges that would bedevil any small business owner; it certainly isn't the kind of occupation that lets you leave your work at 5 p.m. We asked some C-tailers in an informal online query which of these problems weighed most heavily on their daily adrenaline. Not surprisingly, their answers were a cross-section of old and new problems that reflected the state of their chosen industry.
TIME IS MONEY
One word that makes most C-tailers reach for the Rolaids is scheduling. Imagine not being able to schedule your work because it's dependent on the schedules of someone else's work — someone with whom you have little or no working relationship, and whose agendas and timetables may be completely different than yours, even if you're both servicing the same customer.
One respondee to our query, who identified himself as "QQQ," summed up the predicament succinctly: "Our work always happens at the end of each construction phase. We wire after the elec-
trician, plumber, etc., have all run their stuff, and later on, we install after everyone else is finished. We always have to wait on everyone else, and we have a much narrower window to do our work than everyone else. It can be difficult dealing with the often chaotic scheduling of construction projects."