08 March 2008

Two Pots Plus

We are in the stove business. You would assume that our busy time would be the "winter" months; November, December, January, February. No. The store is busiest August through Thanksgiving, and my busiest month- BY FAR- is March. Why March?!? Or a bigger question, why does it surprise me how busy I am each time March rolls around? You think I would remember!
What makes March so crazy? Well, a little synopsis of my week might shed some light on that.
The first day home from Georgia I wanted to sit and drink coffee all morning. But there was the un-packing, laundry, and vacuuming all the pet hair that was deposited while we were gone that needed to be done. So I sipped while I worked. Shopping since we have no food in the house and I hadn't done real shopping in almost two months because we were gone so much. Stopping at Dunkies for a refresher... Checking all of the little things that piled up at the store, service issues, employee issues, Art was at the store all for six hours... When he got home I made another pot. Checking e-mail since we were computer free (won't do that again!) was a lovely process as I have two business e-mails, and about six other accounts.
Monday Art picked up the box of mail that accumulated while we were gone while I made coffee. We sorted, answered what we needed to, a contract by fax, entered and paid bills. March is also the time that manufacturer's clean up their books. This is when they pull invoices out of their hat that I have never seen before. Always fun to get bills when we are slowing down at the store- NOT! Shoveling and plowing snow were high on the list today, too. There were two storms while we were gone. One six inches, and one ten inches. Lots of shoveling! Another pot of coffee...
We also had to write a letter and complete a form that came while we were gone but had to be in on Tuesday! We scheduled appointments for the car to get new brakes because it failed inspection a couple of days before we left, scheduled annual service for our piggy-back and warehouse forklift to get ready for early buy. This day ended early at 7:00 because Art had a fire meeting.
Tuesday quick coffee as we got up early and headed up to Manchester to get the brakes done on the Passat, stopped for breakfast and coffee, finished food shopping, and went to pick up paint at our distributor and bring it to the shop. Then home and another pot to do some homework on a couple of pieces of property we have been looking at. We touched base with the realtor. We started trying to contact the existing warehouse owner for a possible extension on our lease since the search is not going well... Then we launched into creating sales and purchase reports to start our early buy orders. At the show the manufacturer's release their annual purchase programs, most of which have to have the main order in by the end of the month or earlier. We started with pipe since we are planning a switch to a new company. We also had to make several calls to our sales rep and Harman to try to figure out how to do their early buy since they are using a floor plan company, and our bank said not to make any major commitments until we have the loan secure- ((Sigh)) Oh, and called the floorplan company to get their application, then filled it out. Haven't sent it yet, but after a conference call with the a guy at the stove company and our rep we managed to break our initial order into two and submitted the first part of our stove order. Then I downloaded the store's pos data into my system (LOVE GoToMyPC!!!), of course had problems and spent an hour remapping the accounts. Turned off my computer at eight.
Wednesday Art's day started at five when his fire pager went off for a motor vehicle accident. I got up early made coffee and hit the reports again. Figuring out the dollar value of what we have in pipe, how much we would have to spend for new pipe blah blah blah. This took a ridiculous amount of time, especially in hind sight since we ended up not switching and just making a small fill in order with our existing pipe :( This day I spent also spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to navigate the Massachusetts state web site trying to find out how to, and then sign up for new requirements they have. Pain in the butt! We moved my sewing table over so I can make new drop cloths for cleaning season. A storm is brewing at the store. Two of our guys are at each others throats. A guy who used to work for us wants to come back. So one employee is taking upon himself to drive another out to make room for the previous guy ((Sigh)). I also talked with another dealer about the floorplan company(pretty new to both of us), Massachusetts (she has gotten further than I have), and GE finance credit cards to offer consumers (which we do and they want to), also service issues that are common and general chat. While I was on the phone Art made coffee and another dealer I called to talk with me about a web page I am working on to promote a positive message about wood pellets because I got so pissed at our industry magazine and a representative web site for their negativity. Oh, I forgot that on Monday Art also hired a new tech... Little things~ Then I talked with our sales rep about a presentation he does since Art has to prepare and give a biomass presentation next Wednesday. After a dinner break I started working up the list for the employee meeting on Thursday. I think I shut off the computer at 9:00.
Thursday, oh boy. Art made coffee. I got up and finished the list of things to talk about for the meeting. Came up with a new serial number log procedure and log that we will have to use for the floorplan company, printed out copies and saved file to jump drive to take to store. I also gathered up all of the relevant show material to give the guys as well as a little synopsis of what to tell them... Then I had to run to the town for my second job. Always coffee there :) thanks to Jeanne. With elections next week and candidates night last week there is quite a buzz. A somewhat controversial selectman read my letter so the jury is out on how that will affect me... When I got back we headed down to the store stopping for coffee at a favorite of ours J. Beaner. Art was swept away with things they save for him. Since it was mid-day I had to do multiple presentations of the meeting since customers were flowing in, and people were in and out due to service. We went to the warehouse to do a pipe count, and see how the clean up for an eventual move was going. I did a graph layout of how we will shoe horn 35 stoves into the stores basement when they come next week. After addressing a few computer issues that the guys brought to my attention we headed off to the town to talk with the zba about a property we were looking at. Then to Charlie's presentation two hours north. We stopped on the way for a quick bite having iced tea instead of coffee, and to get an ice axe at EMS for Art's trip up Mount Washington next month. We attended Charlies presention and spent time talking with the dealer it was held at. We shared info on grills, and he showed us switch grass/wood pellets which are a new product from Energex. Very cool to us pellet geeks... After talking with Charlie we headed out stopping for dinner and coffee of course- decaf for me full strength for Art. We got home a little after ten.
Friday, are we there yet? Art made coffee today. I started by trying to get my DVD Recorder set to record the biomass segment done by Sam Champion on Good Morning America. I think I failed, but they have it online. You can see it at woodpelletguru. More paperwork this morning, as an old pain in the ass has popped up creating insurance drama. Sort that out. Spent time working on a web page update which is long overdue. I sent out inquiries and talked with a couple of suppliers who we were interested in and/or hadn't gotten information from yet, and did a back and forth with our stove reps about Mass's license requirements. I made another pot then talked with our banker about the inevitable floorplan order, and properties... Art faxed off the pipe order and just when I was getting ready to tackle the GE Floorplan company my Mom called. Crap, I was supposed to call her on Tuesday. Crap again, my Vonage is cutting in and out because the cable junction outside is under water. Hang up, go fix wire, heat shrink wrap it with hubby's help, and try to call my folks back. Just about then the phone calls from the store began. Remember that storm I was talking about. It's here. The guy who wants the other guy out decided that he didn't want to work with guy B who is our service tech btw. So guy A takes off in the 350 pellet delivery truck to do a service call (guy B's job), and no tools because he is in a delivery truck. Three hours later when guy B's next appointment time is coming up fast Art gets called. So the round about of who, why, how, WHAT?!? begins. Ending with guy A yelling at Art and Art yelling back. "I have to go," I tell my folks. Then a couple of calls by me to make sure the customer is taken care of and an appointment with both guys for later. Then we head down to the shop to get parts to finish the service call, which guy A couldn't do, of course... Then up to customer's house. While Art was in there I finished e-mail, and worked on the web page some more. Art comes out, needs a weird little sensor that we don't have with us- Murphy's Law at work here. Then back down to the store. Coffee. Talk with guy A, talk with Art about what guy A said. Talk with guy B, then all four of us talk. It is six thirty now. We then head back up to customers house to put part in. At eight we headed off to China Star for dinner and a Scorpian Bowl.
Today, I am tired. Neither of us have brought up anything to do with the store, or any other topic that has to do with the W word. Not that there isn't plenty to do, we just want a break. I'm going to go fill up my coffee again. I think we are at a new level of insanity as it now takes two plus pots of coffee a day to keep us moving at the pace we need to!

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