CUCV Electric Explained

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1stSarge

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*** CUCV Electric is out of business !!!! ***


A thank you, apology, history, and explanation…


I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that has been so supportive of me in the last couple of months. Your words of encouragement have meant the world to me and have been a rock. I also want to extend an apology to every one involved. For those that have not received an email or order in a timely manner, and for others that have had to deal with the fallout from that I am sorry.


I have disabled the product portion of the website. The reasons are numerous and varied.


They largely consist of the logistics involved, sales, and my own health issues.


Sales
For the last couple of months CUCV Electric has become bigger than what I can handle, most of you know that this is pretty much a one-man operation. I do handle all of the emails, packaging, shipping, web page maintenance, ect.


Since Thanksgiving, several things that have happened to challenge this. First of all sales increased exponentially. Now, many business owners would look at that and say that it is great. Well, it is, if you can manage the weight of the entire thing, make it work, and not fall behind and take what would be a satisfied customer and make them unhappy.


This is the first failure on my part. I saw that things were starting to move very quickly and I started to get just a bit behind. Then it would slow down, and I would catch up. This happened several times over the last couple of months. I totally failed to recognized that I was now always operating in the negative as far as time was going, reacting instead of being proactive.


Like a stubborn mule, I still felt as if I was letting too many people down if I shut things down for a while, so instead, I, the eternal optimist, felt like I could catch up and stay ahead of it.


Internet and Phone
There were a number of more technological issues that reared their ugly heads in a huge way. one the continual internet access problem. Due to our remote location, the only access is through satellite. This has always been a sporadic issue for us. If the weather is bad, or even if it is overcast, there are problems. There have been entire strings of days that I have not been able to get online due to this. Sometimes resulting in me packing everything up, taking the laptop and going somewhere else.


The second technological issue is cell phone service. There are many times that either a customer needed to talk on the phone or I would, depending what the issue is. At first, I would just call from home using the landline, and that worked great for a while, until I found that number posted on the internet.


I then switched to a cell plan and made it a habit to leave the area every day just to get a signal and answer or make customer calls. This was a huge time consumer and untimely did not work due to the nature of what it became.


There are literally dozens of emails I get every week where someone is simply asking a question about their trucks, not product questions, but the questions that you would normally see posted on here. This was fine in emails, I loved answering them when I could, and pointing many to Steel Soldiers for more answers, but when this system translated to the phone, and it just did not work.


The phone became a help line more than any customer service line. I could count on several messages every day about someone wanting to know why their “wait” light was flashing while they are driving down the road. You can imagine what it might be like if Doghead or Warthog posted their phone number in the CUCV forum.


I then removed the phone number from the website and only gave it out to customers, (prininting automatically on invoices and receipts) hoping that it would allow me to focus more time on customer related questions, instead of general conversations about CUCV’s.


This also did not work, in a short time; I found this number posted on line (in a few places) as well.
The people that would find it in a forum would see that recognize that it belongs to a company and assume that the company has a responsibility to answer all of their CUCV related questions.


In a sense, they are right, if that customer was having a problem that could be fixed by a product or service that CUCV Electric had, then it was a sales opportunity right? Unfortunately, it usually did not always work out that way, most often the result is the same advice that you see on here about cleaning or fixing a 27-year-old wire.


The dichotomy in this dilemma is that I actually ENJOY doing this on the phone, I have hundreds of hours logged in on the phone talking someone through a troubleshooting technique, and it is a huge amount of fun for me to hear someone accomplish something they didn’t think they could do.


So what is the answer to this? How can I have a working phone system, which works all of the time for customer questions, while not alienating the much larger group of people just needing help or advice?


Steel Soldiers… ok I said it just so I could before you did.


Want to know a piece of marketing data that absolutely shocked me as I got into this? About 80% of CUCV owners, who call or email me, have not heard of, do not like, or refuse to look at, Steel Soldiers. What? Yeah, how is it that you can Google “CUCV” and not see Steel Soldiers? I do not know, but it evidently happens, and a lot.


Therefore, I have tried to post things on the website about seeing Steel Soldiers for answers, but it does not even slow it down. There are over 100 back links to Steel Soldiers from www.cucvelectric.com.


So currently, I do not have a great solution for this. The sales do not support a person just to answer phone calls and emails, not with the other projects that I had waiting in the wings.


Money
Therefore, that brings us to the business. Many of you have read, seen or know that my driving motivation to establish CUCV Electric was to create a gateway of support for the hobby that we love. I was already involved in a couple of online business, and I could use the contacts and systems in place for those to apply them to our needs as CUCV owners.


This worked really well. The business had a bit of a head start with everything that was in place there, but it really did not start with a lot of capitol. After arranging for investors, part of what is in our operating agreement is that there would be no disbursements for the first three years, and at the end of those three years, it would be evaluated again.


What this means is that no one makes any money from the business. It is not a non-profit business, it does make a profit, but ALL of the profits from CUCV Electric fold right back into the business. With my income derived from other sources, this allows the business to continue growing and investing and bigger and bigger projects. Buying power in quantity can make a big difference on where you can set your price points and what you can have done.


For example, we are about to invest in tooling and parts to begin injection molding ABS and nylon plastics, this will allow us to offer parts that are no longer available that would could really use as CUCV owners. If you have no exposure in this area this process can cost thousands, a typical tool the sizes we need will run around $12,000. What will that mean to you? You will be able to get a part that was not previously that you could desperately use.






The Future
So what is in the future? For right now in consideration of current customers, again, the ordering portion of the website is disabled. I feel terrible when the typical wait for an order exceeds more than a couple of days. Moreover, as the average was extending out to a week or more it became unacceptable. Therefore, for the foreseeable future, this will remain the case.


This will allow me to focus on other aspects of both the business and my personal life.


For the business, we are currently negotiating with other companies that already have great systems in place for customer support, and order fulfillment. Right now I am not sure what form this will take, but it will most likely result in some type of partnership agreement.


There are currently about 20 products here, which have not made it onto the website. This has just been due to a lack of time.


There are currently about 10 projects, some interrelated that need some research or engineering to make them a reality, (this is both the largest time and money consumer).


There are currently about 15 remaining orders left to be filled. These will all ship no later than Monday.


I have many articles, drawings, you tube videos, and other forms of publications that are all partially done. Some at 99%. They just need to be completed and uploaded. For example, I am in the midst of doing a new set of super easy to understand wiring diagrams, I have not touched them since November.
I have made the commitment to myself hat I will complete one of these per month in each of three series. I will attempt to post the first one here and on the site next week.


Steel Soldiers
There is one major point I would like to make about Steel Soldiers and the staff here.


I have scarified many things to make this thing a reality. We all do that, we give up something to just make a dream come true. In this case, one of the things I have immensely enjoyed was logging onto Steel Soldiers and spending hours here every week. This was one enjoyment that really bothered me to let go. I simply did not have time.


There have also been “fun” comments when I would post up that said something like “shouldn’t you be looking at getting us wiring harnesses instead of goofing around on Steel Solders?”


To lose that enjoyment really hurt. So with the responsibility of filling orders consuming all of my time, I do take exception to the concept of being held accountable for NOT posting up responding to someone commenting about CUCV Electric here. In order to run the business, again, there is simply not time to spend on here. So posting up some comment here and expecting some response from me is crazy. This is the first time I have logged on in something like 2 months. The only result that happens is agitating the staff here.


I do have to say, that any comments here, both good and bad, represent the smallest fraction of interactions that happen with myself and CUCV owners via email and phone. Customers or not.


Just to give you some idea of the numbers we are talking about, in the last 60 days there have been over 1400 orders. That is just orders, this does not include the much more numerous questions and product inquiries. I have sent over 2000 emails. Both 20+ orders a day and 30+ emails a day have been normal.


Health
In my personal life, there are some things that should probably be addressed. I mentioned the health problem earlier.


In the midst of this time period, I became very ill. Not just out for a couple days, but serious issues arose. One Service related, and the other just an on-going problem that needs to be addressed periodically. Both wiped me out at the same time. This is when I began to start to get behind, especially with emails.


This afternoon, I will be in the hospital for a small procedure. Then next week or so (depending on the results of what happens today) I will have a much larger procedure. Then an even more critical one will be scheduled some time after that. So basically, the near future of CUCV Electric will be influenced by that.


So there you have it, I have attempted to cover everything here in one post, I am not sure when I will be able to review responses, but I appreciate you taking the time to read it.


Hard to believe it has been over two years since we first started the business. I am so convinced you guys (my customers and MV owners in general) are the greatest group of people in the world. And you guys that might see this that have sent notes in support over the last couple of months, again, thank you. That has meant the world to me.




---John
 
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GPrez

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I knew I shouldn't have procrastinated ordering my alternator rebuild kits. :) The items I have purchased from you worked perfectly and were shipped timely. I hope things work out for you with your health and business, and hope to see you up and running again very soon. Keep us posted as things progress and I'll keep you in my prayers for a healthy outcome.
 

Warthog

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John,

Thanks for posting. Figured there was some issue keeping you occupied.

As you and I have talked on the phone, I saw this becoming bigger and bigger as time went by. When the fun goes out of it, you sometimes need a break.

If there is anything I can help you with, please let me know.
 
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truck1

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John,
Thanks for the explanation.My truck would not be reliable without the parts you supplied.They are difficult to source elsewhere.I hope you recover soon and wish you luck with your future endeavors.
 

dstang97

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Two things glad you are back and where did all of the cucv people come from? 1400 orders wow. I would have thought 25 max per week. MAX!.
 

swbradley1

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Like he said, there are a lot more CUCV owners out there that have nothing to do with Steel Soldiers. I met one one day at an auto parts place.
 

Sharecropper

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John;I hope things turn out OK for you. I am enjoying the parts I got from you, they are of the best quality. If there is anything I can do for you, let me know.
 

MarcusOReallyus

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Good on ya for posting this.


A word of advice: YOu have got to learn to say NO to the leeches. You cannot run a business and help every person that calls with a question.

Doing that may be enjoyable, and that's fine if you want to do it as a hobby.

But as a business? It is NOT good customer service. It's just being used.

Get a 900 number and charge for your time, or tell folks you aren't in the business of providing free advice.

You must choose one path or the other. You cannot do both.
 

swbradley1

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I like the idea of getting a 900 number for CUCV support. I'm sure there are a couple of members that could make some extra money if John didn't want to do it.
 

Warthog

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I like the idea of getting a 900 number for CUCV support. I'm sure there are a couple of members that could make some extra money if John didn't want to do it.
Amen to that brother. Also need to find a way to charge per email or PM :gimp2:
 

CA_LEO

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Thanks for the post John. I just placed my first order with you about a week ago and felt like I struck a gold mine when I found your site. I am sorry to hear things are the way they are. You are in our thoughts and prayers.
 

xenocath

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Thank you, i appreciate all you have done. the service you have provided has been extremely valuable. if there is any chance i could help you out with anything please let me know.
 

twomorestrokes

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See what happens when you do too good of job? LOL.

I can really understand where you're coming from as I have a full time home based business and it is just me. I have to do it all, phone, emails, pick up and deliver cars, and find time to work on them in between. My accounts ask me why I don't hire someone to help keep up. I've tried that a couple times. Besides cutting into the profits drastically, there is a large amount of time lost training, and when I send them home for the day I found myself always going over their work to get it to my expectations. Definitely no help in my situation. To top it off, I had open heart when I turned 50 which slowed things down in the shop. I love being self employed, but the enjoyment is dwindling.

Best of luck to you John, whichever direction you choose from here on out.

Mike
 
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