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johnm1
October 15, 2007, 10:13 PM
Here is the problem I am trying to solve.

I know a good gunsmith and I have some 'elective' front sight work I would like done on 2 revolvers. Like all good gunsmiths he has a backlog of over 70 customers and a stated 6-8 week lead time. Likely less, but the lead time is overstated. Things happen and that's OK. Customer (me in this case) must leave the firearm at his shop until the work is completed. :mad:

The gunsmith does what all good businessmen do and gathers all of the like types of jobs and does all that he has at one time. 12 action jobs, 14 dovetail projects etc. This minimizes tool/machine set up time and reduces his work load. The problem is he doesn't know when in the 6-8 week duration this work will occur. But when it does he needs the firearm in his possession and, rightfully so, doesn't want to spend a day calling his customers asking they bring the firearm in by a certain date.

This being the 21'st century it seems so possible for software to catalog the type of job and send out an e-mail notification that the work will start on a specific date. Almost everyone has an e-mail and those that don't, or don't want to be notified by e-mail would have to leave the firearm onsite just like it is done now. I'm sure other industries must manage manufacturing process when raw materials are all available.

Hoping I have presented the situation clearly enough to be understood, does anybody know of an existing product that will accomplish the task?

I do not want to become a gunsmith. If there is a product out there I would buy it and give it to my gunsmith, just to be able to hold on to my firearms longer. I think he runs his business with a paper and pencil so I don't think database/information conversion is an issue in this case. I understand that other situations could be problematic if an existing software system is being used.

Eghad
October 15, 2007, 10:50 PM
How would you program all the interuptions in? My gunsmith has a sign that says you can have it done fast or you can have it done right. I personally like my stuff done right so I dont bug him as he has my cell phone number. He gives me a general timeline and is usually a little sooner or a little later. Works out in the wash.

I always tell him take his time.

johnm1
October 17, 2007, 08:14 AM
Not sure I completly understand your question Eghad. All guns have to 'come in' either unannounced or scheduled. I don't think scheduling a repair adds any more interuptions, just moves the interuption.

Most smith's will overstate the lead time. We can figure that even if it only takes 4 weeks to complete the work, the gun sits on a shelf for 3 weeks and 3 or 4 days before the work starts. Broken or unsafe guns might as well sit on the smith's shelf but a gun that needs 'elective' work could be used in that dead period.

I suppose I'm just grumbling. Of course I could find a smith that doesn't have many customers, but I have learned that there usually is a reason a skilled craftsman doesn't have a backlog.

James K
October 17, 2007, 08:41 PM
I have been a gunsmith and understand the problems, but speaking as a customer, I don't think much of your gunsmith's system. I believe in first come, first done, or as closely as possible to that (considering parts or supplies ordering, etc.). I can see some efficiency in doing a batch of similar jobs at one time, but that means some customer may wait months until enough similar jobs pile up to make it worth while to work on them, while another customer may bring in a gun and have it done that afternoon. Not only is this unfair, but it is darned poor customer relations when the two customers get together at the range.

As to doing it fast or doing it right, I don't think that should be an option. All jobs should be done right, and all should be done as quickly and efficiently as possible. If it takes a smith a lot of time to do a simple job, the guy really shouldn't be in business. He may be great as a hobbyist smith, doing work for himself and a few friends, but he will not succeed in business. If he is so backed up that he is unwilling to provide some kind of date when the gun will be ready, he may need to hire an apprentice to do the simple jobs, and/or find a clerk to take care of the "front" while he gets the work done.

Jim

tomh1426
October 17, 2007, 09:12 PM
I dont know of any existing product that will accomplish your task.
Their seems to be a shortage of gunsmiths in the phoenix area, according to most shops its due to insurance.
So the few that are around are busy, especially this time of the year.
I found a place called Magnum Precision, they are very good
They have a big shop and a fast turn around, no 5-6 week waits
I dropped my gun off on thursday and picked it up monday night.
Their around indian school and 27th ave by shooters world 602 200 0943.

DonR101395
October 17, 2007, 09:14 PM
I have been a gunsmith and understand the problems, but speaking as a customer, I don't think much of your gunsmith's system. I believe in first come, first done, or as closely as possible to that (considering parts or supplies ordering, etc.). I can see some efficiency in doing a batch of similar jobs at one time, but that means some customer may wait months until enough similar jobs pile up to make it worth while to work on them, while another customer may bring in a gun and have it done that afternoon. Not only is this unfair, but it is darned poor customer relations when the two customers get together at the range.

As to doing it fast or doing it right, I don't think that should be an option. All jobs should be done right, and all should be done as quickly and efficiently as possible. If it takes a smith a lot of time to do a simple job, the guy really shouldn't be in business. He may be great as a hobbyist smith, doing work for himself and a few friends, but he will not succeed in business. If he is so backed up that he is unwilling to provide some kind of date when the gun will be ready, he may need to hire an apprentice to do the simple jobs, and/or find a clerk to take care of the "front" while he gets the work done.


+100
If I get the "attitude" from a smith that I'll get when I get it, he doesn't get my business. I don't ask for much. A date when it will be completed and that it will be complete on that date. I understand things happen and can adjust to that, but the smith I had build a .45 for me last year got his last business from me. I dropped it off the first week in Sept, he said it would be done 21 Dec. I got it in writing on the work receipt. The date came and went 3 Jan I called him to see if it was done. I was told almost, he just had to put the finish on the slide, it would be done in a week. 12 Jan I called him I'm told he's gone for the week because he went to the SHOT show. Call him 17 Jan his response "Did I call you?" me: "no" him: "Then it's not done." I'm pretty irritated at this point, not because it's not done, but because he is nearly a month behind his agreed to date and that he felt it was ok to take a week for the SHOT show instead of completing work he was behind completing. Finally, 2 Feb he calls as says it's done. I'm thinking great, I hope it's worth the wait. I go to pick it up and the front sight is not centered, the ambi-safety is not sculpted to the shape of the grip safety so the bottom of it hangs like a knife 1/8" below the grip safety, the rear sight tension screw is loose enough that I pushed the rear sight out with slight finger pressure. His response "Oooops, I didn't notice that stuff." He says come back in a week and I'll have it sculpted, refinished and the sights centered and tightened. I figured what the heck, I've already waited and extra 43 days. He calls me 22 Feb and says it's complete. I go to pick it up and it was in fact done. I came out very nice and I would have over looked the additional two months if he had been honest with his time line and delays and had it done right the first time, especially since it's an hour drive to his shop. I haven't been back since and definitely don't recommend him to anyone.

johnm1
October 17, 2007, 10:02 PM
The smith I'm dealing with is a good guy and from referrals he does good work. He doesn't have an attitude, just a lot of business. He was honest and up front so I'm not complaining about either his attitude, or quality.

I just don't want to leave a fully functional gun sit on his shelf when I could (and would) be shooting it at least once a week. This could easily be read that I am one of the impatient general public seeking instant gratification. And I guess there is at least a little truth in that.

Jim - I don't know the extent of how long he collects like jobs. I didn't get into that much detail with him. I do see your point but I have to believe that this happens all of the time (not in your shop I understand). Ever wonder why one customer raves about the quick service when another gripes about how slow someone is?

The question is not a commentary on my smith or gunsmiths in general. Just looking for a better way to skin a cat (and get instant gratification at the same time ;):rolleyes: )

Eghad
October 18, 2007, 12:17 AM
What I meant by fast is the guy brings it in that afternoon for a glass bed and to be rebarreled and wants it back in the early morning type so he can go hunting.

My gunsmith always gives me an expected date. He usually finishes ahead of his expectations and his work is very professional. I just want him to understand that if he has to take some extra time I will not get mad because we all have interuptions or illness or a home repair that cant wait. Dont try to make up time and dont rush the work I want done. I will understand.

James K
October 18, 2007, 10:36 PM
No gunsmith can set a precise date on a complex job, mainly because he can't be sure of suppliers, like barrel makers. But I think that on most jobs he should be able to give a fairly close time and it should be days, not months.

If a gunsmith is successful and has more work than he can handle, it is time to expand with more help or, at least someone to take the routine off his back. That is what any other business would do. Someone may start a restaurant with himself as cook and his wife as waitress, but if his place becomes popular he has to get more help. That kind of thing is what I have preached so often - if you want to set up as a gunsmith, first learn to run a small business. Too many folks think all they need is an FFL and a mill bastard file and don't want to bother with the details.

Obviously, more help means sharing the money, but if he gets a rep as a "no produce" smith, he soon won't have any business, so it is his choice. Not many folks are as patient as Don R.

(BTW, here is one dirty little secret. Some suppliers give a higher percentage discount on larger orders. So smiths wait until they accumulate a large order to, say, Brownells, so they save on shipping and get a bigger discount. So some poor guy who only wants a set of scope mounts waits months until the smith has an order for a couple of barrels. I never liked that practice, but others do it all the time.)

Jim

DonR101395
October 18, 2007, 10:40 PM
Not many folks are as patient as Don R.

Thanks Jim, could you tell my wife that:D

mballai
October 28, 2007, 09:58 AM
I can see someone writing software that would greatly make a gunsmith much more efficient in grouping work, ordering parts, and handling mundane tasks like email notification etc.

The problem is that most business requirements, the basis for determining how to design a piece of software, are highly personal in nature. What works for Joe most likely isn't going to work for George. And what works for George may change over time. And I doubt that George wants to sit down with a programmer and go through the process of getting something made that will be flexible enough to do it.

I have some self-written software that allows me to do most anything I do in relationship to shooting right from a web browser window. Minor updates are a breeze and it works really well. If I had to have someone write it and customize it and update it for me it would be a non-starter.

Wildalaska
October 28, 2007, 12:27 PM
We do FIFO with the following caveats..

During hunting season and lead up to hunting season, we will try to get folks everyday hunting rifle repaiirs done....while projects in the shop longer may sit. This is due to the levels of subsistence hunting up here, one needs one's tool to feed ones family......

Older guns that require hard to get parts may sit until we can find them. Guns that require a part to be made may sit until the machines to make them are available. Guns to be reblued/parked may sit until sufficient guns to justify firing up the tanks are ready.

If I get the "attitude" from a smith that I'll get when I get it, he doesn't get my business.

Guess I am not going to be able to work on your stuff then. ;)

So smiths wait until they accumulate a large order to, say, Brownells, so they save on shipping and get a bigger discount

We NEVER take that route. Need just a spring, order it, the customer can pay for shipping and the gun is gone. A gone gun is a happy customer.

Patience is a virtue. It can take 10 weeks to get a barrel. Getting our 50 Alaskan barrels can take a year. It took me 4 weeks to get a sight from SIG and one time, a year to get a part from Beretta. The gun industry isnt like the automotive industry.

WilditwillbedonewhenitsdoneAlaska TM

DonR101395
October 28, 2007, 01:10 PM
Guess I am not going to be able to work on your stuff then.


I think you took that out of context WA. The attitude I'm referring to is the guy who can't give you a realistic estimate of time to completion. We all know that it makes sense to wait to fire up the bluing tanks until you have enough guns to justify firing it up. For example, if I drop something off and he says this is the first one I have for bluing it will be 2 months before I have enough guns to blue. I can deal with that. If I drop it off and he says it will be done in two weeks and then when I go pick it up he says "your's was the only one I have for bluing so I haven't done it, I'll get it to you when I get enough guns in to fire up the tank. That's unacceptable.

The gun industry isnt like the automotive industry.

Would you drop your car off at the shop and be fine with them keeping it for an untold amount of time because they don't have enough oil change requests to justify opening the next 30 gal drum of oil?
I doubt it, and we all know things happen and suppliers aren't always reliable. An honest estimate and communication when something happens that will lengthen the time isn't too much to ask or too much to support.

Wildalaska
October 28, 2007, 01:26 PM
The attitude I'm referring to is the guy who can't give you a realistic estimate of time to completion.

Well again, I wont be working on your stuff...;)

"When will it be ready."

"I dont know. I cant give you an estimate. *insert the explanation of why here*"

90% of the folks understand that

An honest estimate and communication when something happens that will lengthen the time isn't too much to ask or too much to support.

At any given time I have approximately 350 open work orders. If we spent the time to hold folks hands about their guns we would get nothing done.

Sorry if it seems harsh. If you (meaning the average you, not you qua you) drop a gun off and I tell you two weeks, on the 14th day you will call, thereby interrupting the flow of work and DELAYING everything further. If I give you no time estimate and basically discourage you from calling, work goes faster.

I try to be nice about it. Some folks undersatnd, some folks consider me an a**hole. My goal is to get guns out the door as efficiently as possible. I dont tell folks what they want to hear, I tell them reality...

WildsomestufftakesforeverAlaska TM

DonR101395
October 28, 2007, 02:30 PM
Well again, I wont be working on your stuff...

"When will it be ready."

"I dont know. I cant give you an estimate. *insert the explanation of why here*"

90% of the folks understand that

Quote:
An honest estimate and communication when something happens that will lengthen the time isn't too much to ask or too much to support.
At any given time I have approximately 350 open work orders. If we spent the time to hold folks hands about their guns we would get nothing done.

Sorry if it seems harsh. If you (meaning the average you, not you qua you) drop a gun off and I tell you two weeks, on the 14th day you will call, thereby interrupting the flow of work and DELAYING everything further. If I give you no time estimate and basically discourage you from calling, work goes faster.

I try to be nice about it. Some folks undersatnd, some folks consider me an a**hole. My goal is to get guns out the door as efficiently as possible. I dont tell folks what they want to hear, I tell them reality...



Actually it sounds like I would like to work for you.
WA: I need you to take the trash out.
Me: Sure thing, I'll get you fixed up.
Three days later........
WA: I asked you to take the trash out.
Me: You'll get it when I get it done:D:p

I do understand your situation WA. You have a lot of business with a lot of custom jobs. The majority of gunsmiths don't turn out that kind of business. If I asked you to build me a 1911 and you told me sure it will take a year maybe two,.that's cool I can make an informed decision. If I drop off a 1911 to have a safety installed that you have in stock and you take a year to complete the job; you're right you wouldn't be working on any of my guns.

Wildalaska
October 28, 2007, 04:24 PM
I do understand your situation WA. You have a lot of business with a lot of custom jobs. The majority of gunsmiths don't turn out that kind of business. If I asked you to build me a 1911 and you told me sure it will take a year maybe two,.that's cool I can make an informed decision. If I drop off a 1911 to have a safety installed that you have in stock and you take a year to complete the job; you're right you wouldn't be working on any of my guns.

No, it isnt gonna take a year...I'm gonna say this:

"This should take about X days, however, keep in mind that I have to get your "geewhizninjapart", that takes a few days too, OK.....so I'm not going to quote you delivery time, we will call you, OK?"

Gun comes in Friday.
3Monday comes phone call...is my gun ready yet? No dude, you brought it in Friday at 5:30 Alaska time, I havent even ordered the part yet. Oh OK....
Put part on Brownells order.
5Wed: Fax brownells order
10Monday: Hey my gun ready yet? No, sir the part hasnt come in. OK
11Tues: Brownells order shows up, 85 parts and pieces.
12Wed afternoon: Brownells order finally received in computer, now the gunsmiths can have em.
13Thurs: Gunsmiths make mad dash for parts.
13Thurs: Power goes out until 2:00. Rest of the day is spent catching up.
14Fri: Tear apart gun to put new part in. Discover customer has modified his whozamijig and it wont work with new part. need to order replacement part from importer. Cant do till Monday.
18Monday: Call importer. Get answering machine that says they are open Wed to Friday
20Wed: Importer says they are backordered due to a Bolivian Police contract. Call customer and tell him...O but I thought it would take X days?

And so on

WildicouldgoonformonthsAlaska TM

DonR101395
October 28, 2007, 04:35 PM
See WA we agree and I'd be happy to let you guys work on my guns. I think we illustrated each others point very well.
Things happen that are beyond control of both the GS and the customer.

George R
October 28, 2007, 04:39 PM
Gunsmith school joke: "In by noon - out by June."

VaFisher
October 28, 2007, 06:27 PM
The main reason for back-up on orders is mostly because people don't want to pay but so much for a given job. Looks like if you were willing to pay extra then a given job could be done faster, at least this way the smith would not lose out on his profit margin being he did not wait to gather enough of the same job to make his normal profit. Next time it may be worth asking about.