Weird stringer

Discussion in 'Stringing Techniques / Stringing Machines' started by zapvor, Feb 12, 2013.

  1. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    I don't think this has come up before...so at my work there is a new stringer who's cool and all, but there's a few things that's bugging me. I string for a lot of juniors, and a lot of them 'abuse' their rackets, so to speak, so the bumperguards and grommets are often beat up. the other day, i find out that apparently he "doesn't do bumperguards" so i was left to replace a pure drive myself. then today after putting in a request to management about getting some teflon tubing because so many rackets i see are in real bad shape, he tells me that "we don't do teflon tubing, we string them up as they come".

    so i am pretty shocked at his statement. this is a guy that tells me he strung 12hrs straight at tournaments, and yet tells me there no need for using tubing???

    how do i approach this?
     
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  2. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Buy a roll of tubing, and use it on your own. Perhaps if they see you spent the money on a product that is helping their customers, they will reimburse you.
     
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  3. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    thanks drak! i appreciate your input.

    a more in depth question if you dont mind-how do i approach management about this though? it just seems like such an odd thing for a stringer to say right?
     
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  4. uk_skippy

    uk_skippy Hall of Fame

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    I think the stringers approach is unprofessional for 1 who claims to string at tourneys. As Drak has said, get some tubing of your own and use it. It should be standard in any stringers' tool kit.

    As for the management issue, I'd consider letting the scenario of the stringer string a rqt with a split grommet, and then the rqt coming back with a premature breakage due to the grommet. Management won't be happy if they have to replace the string job at their expense due a lack of professionalism.

    Regards

    Paul
     
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  5. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    I wish there weren't but I think there are a lot of stringers wondering what's wrong with that. My guess is if you buy tubing you won't get reimbursed. I think the store would rather have them buy a new racket that spend time fixing an old one.

    EDIT: I hate to say it but if the racket is all beat up to begin with and the bumper strip is torn to peaches think of what could happen. A junior brings in a racket you replace the grip, grommets, and strings and the junior goes on his way. Two days later the racket cracks and someone wants their money back.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2013
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  6. bigmatt

    bigmatt Rookie

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    This guy will probably run himself out of a job with this attitude. As posted above, once racquets he's worked on come back needing free restrings because he "doesn't do" what's required of a professional, he'll be out on the streets.
    You're doing the right thing by everyone, and I hope you're rewarded for it.
     
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  7. Lakers4Life

    Lakers4Life Hall of Fame

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    I want to play devil's advocate here. From the management's side, they don't want to spend more, because if they figure the client would most likely buy a new racket, instead of trying to repair the racket. If you don't tube a bad grommet, that will most likely lead to string breakage. That's more percieved dollars in the company's pocket.

    Though I agree with all of you, that it's the stringer's job to replace head guards/grommets, tubing, Grips and string. That's pretty much the job of a stringer. Anyone who does not do want to do that should not call themselves a Stringer.

    BTW, I've seen my fill of abused "Junior" rackets, even adult rackets.
     
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  8. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    thank you gents for your input, especially those of you who does this for a living (Paul, the MRTs, etc)

    so i think i am just going to buy some tubing and see how that goes. if he doesn't want to do it, i will do it myself.

    please allow me to specify what i did not before: so management oversees the string shop, but they are pretty hands off, and actually know very little about stringing. for instance they cant tell teh difference between awl and starting clamp. so far all the rackets that are breaking prematurely they have no idea about, and i dont think they care that much really. in fact if i dont mention it to them, they would have no idea this is even going on.
     
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  9. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    to add: most of these frames are sponsored juniors, so there is no incentive for management to sell them new frames, since they get it for free.

    edit-so my question is more of this: how do i 'educate' management about this without looking like the bad guy, since they know so little about the stringing side of business
     
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  10. Lakers4Life

    Lakers4Life Hall of Fame

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    Sponsored Juniors usually only have a limited amount of rackets they can get replaced. I guess in thier thinking if they break the racket it will be replaced by the sponsor or mom and dad.
     
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  11. SwankPeRFection

    SwankPeRFection Hall of Fame

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    Not replacing a bumper guard or telling the owner of a racquet to pay for such a service when that guard is in really bad shape is just bad business. Poor grommet maintenance will lead to poor string jobs, snapped strings and even more damage to the frame. Stringers should suggest proper maintenance to someone's stick that's in really bad shape.
     
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  12. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    yea cost is not a concern to these guys
     
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  13. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    not sure what you meant. are you saying they shouldnt have to pay to get their bumperguards replaced? in my experience theres always a charge to get a new bumper. personally i only suggest it to the adults, and even then they dont listen. in fact i had one tell me i was a "smartazz' for trying to tell him what to do, and he complained to management. it was pretty funny.

    is this what your post means??
     
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  14. esgee48

    esgee48 Hall of Fame

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    What's preventing you from telling these Jrs that their racquets need grommets etc. OTW, they risk string damage from rubbing against the frame etc. Or if the frame is really trashed, just say that there is no guarantee on the work or the frame. And no 'money back, etc.' It would be their call as to what to do, but at least they would know what may happen. I do this all the time when I receive a racquet from adults that are 'barely hanging on.' In some cases, I refuse to string it because the racquet WILL break on the stringing machine. Just 2 cents.
     
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  15. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    thanks for your input.

    in my experience the younger kids actually listen more than the adults. but they care less. its a weird dynamic. i dont even really tell them, usually if i can i jsut do it then tell them later and they are like "oh cool man'. but this is a broad generalization. some kids act as if its cool to trash the frame, others do it more unknowingly. honestly i cant tell half the time myself

    now the adults are funny. the guy i mentioned insisted i string his racket even though the graphite is worn to the point of seeing inside the frame, and i told him it was going to break any second. he said i was being a smartazz.
     
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  16. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    so today stringer calls me up. i call him back a little later. he says something about not calling him yesterday, and that its very disrespectful. then he hangs up on me. to be fair he went to the dentist so maybe he got real bad news. i dont know what to do with him lol
     
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  17. Andyroo10567

    Andyroo10567 Professional

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    Karma. Hoping your talking about the one who ignored the tubing. :)
     
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  18. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    lol. yea its the same guy. since you mention it. so i went to management to confirm what he said. and then i told my boss that i was just going to buy some myself and do the tubing myself. in fact, i even went to Sears today and bought new cutters/ needle nose pliers to use
     
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  19. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    which also then reminds me(to continue from above)so the guy takes all teh tools with him each day he goes home. so my first week i had nothing to work with, and had to go to the maintenance guys for their giant pliers and cutters, which isnt the best for small things like tennis string. anyways managemnt gives him money to buy supplies for me.....and he gets the same type of huge tools. but his set is much smaller, like those designed for tennis. what is up with that???? happy to say i went out and bought some smaller ones for me to use from now on. also, i havent been paid yet :(
     
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  20. Andyroo10567

    Andyroo10567 Professional

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    Nice. How much tubing did you think you would have to use per racquet?
     
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  21. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    oh its not much per racket. i would say something like 10ft would be fine until i run out
     
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  22. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    by the way i like your prince racket. i wish i had one of those;)
     
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  23. Andyroo10567

    Andyroo10567 Professional

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    Bummer.. Best to get used to your own tools on the other hand. I bring around my little suitcase filled with tools in case i have to go string someplace else.
     
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  24. Andyroo10567

    Andyroo10567 Professional

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    Oh yeah man. It's a limited edition. Caught me in shock when i reeled it up in the lake while fishing. Definitely a keeper.
     
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  25. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    yep thats a good idea. i learned it the hard way. so you string too
     
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  26. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    i say so! never heard or seen one before.....i need to visit lakes more often
     
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  27. Andyroo10567

    Andyroo10567 Professional

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    Yeah. Somewhat pretty often. I string when i feel stressed or just discombobulated. If i'm perfectly fine, just late at night, watchin some TV.
     
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  28. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    hahah thats an interesting view into your mind.
     
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  29. Lakers4Life

    Lakers4Life Hall of Fame

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    Less than $15 for the set.
    [​IMG]
    From Home Depot, and while you're there pick up the Husky Titanium Scissors for cutting out string.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2013
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  30. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    so thats the place to go. i got some form sears already, but thanks
     
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  31. diredesire

    diredesire Super Moderator

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    A few points I should make: You need to decide and define who you are as a stringer. Are you someone who installs strings into a racquet, or are you someone who practices a craft (some would argue an 'art,' some would argue a 'science')?

    I'll assume since you're asking this, and the general tone of your posts in this sub-forum that you actually give a damn about what type of job and/or service you are providing to your customer(s). The sad and unfortunate thing is: many, MANY stringers don't -- at least not to the same degree as many of us do.

    To me, there are multiple issues within the thread, and there are some pretty simple ways of determining what you can do more/better.

    The first issue with the "other" stringer:

    This "new" stringer - is he older than you? If you're considered "just a kid" by adult terms, and the 'new' stringer is significantly older than you, you need to be sensitive to the fact that most adults don't want to be told what to do by a younger guy. Your communication style will require tact in order to get what you want. This is a life skill that you'll require regardless of your profession and/or occupation. This is especially true IMO if you are someone that is young and with skills/ambition. I'd also like to mention that you won't always be right, especially since you have limited perspective (i'll expand on this momentarily).

    Juniors abusing racquets: So what, exactly? Frame abuse happens, and as a stringer, there's nothing you can do to control it. This is obvious -- so what can you do? Frames come in damaged, right? You can recommend a bumper guard replacement, but as you mentioned -- what happens when the frame comes back busted? What happens when a string rips through the frame (or vice versa) because of a grommet that was not repaired properly? The simple answer from a professional/business perspective is this: If you give fair warning, and something happens, the onus is on them, not you to deal with the repercussions. If you do not have an explicit policy in place, you need to get one in place ASAP. Written, in plain view. You can also refuse to string frames that are not structurally sound. This isn't an issue of being a pain-in-the-butt stringer, it is a PERSONAL safety issue. If the management staff does not see eye-to-eye on this, ask what happens when a frame breaks on the machine, and graphite shards go flying everywhere? What if a customer (OR YOURSELF) is in range of the frame? Someone's going to get sued if, lets say-- eye damage occurred. I think this one is pretty obvious. [As a side note, if you get frames with the graphite worn down, ALWAYS put some head tape on top just as a precaution before stringing. If it blows up {which, to be honest, is rare}, you've got some insurance. Safety glasses is always a good idea when you're not sure, too. I'm being a bit melodramatic here, but if you aren't taking care of yourself, no one else is going to make you].

    Doesn't do bumperguards: Like I asked above, is this guy new(er than you)? If so, that's fine, but if it's a service that your shop offers, and I assume you have bumper guards in stock if you are making this point -- you need to resolve this one way or the other. Is it a service your shop offers? Is there a price per replacement? Is there a labor charge associated with it (on top of the bumper cost)? You'd better believe that if you are offering it as a service that he's going to be replacing bumpers OR not stringing the frames at all. To me, from a business/management perspective, this isn't even on the table for discussion. On top of the "CYA" policy above, I think you can improve your professionalism and approach by an order of magnitude with these simple suggestions.

    Don't do teflon tubing: Same issue as above. If he inspects and sees a cracked grommet, he is on the hook for free labor on breakage. If he doesn't warn the customer, there'd better be a policy in effect. If he DOES warn the customer, and they opt out, that's their problem. If he DOES warn the customer, and they opt IN, then there should be a marginal fee for labor and materials (although if it were me, that'd be something I throw in for free - and I'd mention what I did to them when they picked up, so there's no miscommunications).

    Perspective: You have to look at this (seemingly) simple situation from multiple approaches. You said management doesn't understand the stringing process? Well... if you want things to change, you need to realize that the only way to effectively communicate how and why these issues are important is to translate it into something a business can understand. Overhead, costs, ROI, margins, return customers, etc. Lay out how much it's going to cost, what benefit it provides, and bring up the safety issues. If they still do not see eye to eye, just buy some tubing and call it a day. Your job is NOT NOT NOT to "educate" management. Most managers, if they are removed from the grunt work DO NOT CARE. All they want to know is how what you're asking them to do/asking from them affects their bottom line. Like I asked above -- do you take pride in your work? Are you a craftsman? If the other stringer is taking the tools home with him every day (which is weird for a shared resource shop...) then you should get your own tools. Are you a labor monkey, AND are you taking this as seriously as it needs to be taken to guarantee a good job?

    When I strung ITAs this last weekend, I brought almost 3 full tool sets with me, including weird/one off things. It pays to be prepared, and I never have to deal with other peoples' garbage tools that barely get the job done. It makes my life easier, and it's one less variable that I have to deal with. It's a cheap investment in the long run if you plan to generate some money stringing. Teflon tubing is a simple item to have on hand, and you honestly don't use it very much. I can see WHY a shop/stringer wouldn't stock it, so this one might just end up being on you. You mentioned the guy was given money to buy you tools, and he bought you standard cutters and pliers, right? That should tell you enough about how much he cares about his craft. Forget trying to get things right with this guy and just take care of your own.

    (no offense) From your anecdotes about communicating with adults and/or juniors, your style of writing and getting your ideas down "on paper," I might suggest taking a more critical look on how you are perceived by others. This is another thing that you're really just going to learn with experience. If you talk about these things casually, an adult is just going to think you're BSing them. This is doubly true if you're young. Many industries always try to get these "add-on" upgrades snuck in with all orders. You need to point to store policy (see above) and articulate the repercussions if your advice is not AT LEAST considered. Pointing to store policy will make any recommendations feel more official, and make it more difficult to dismiss you because you are young. For instance: "I inspected your racquet, as it is a standard practice for all labor in our shop. I noticed you've got some graphite wear on your frame. It's a store policy that I at recommend a bumper replacement. The total cost is ~$X. That includes labor and the $~Y charge for the bumper guard. If you want to pass, I have to inform you that we do not make any guarantees on your equipment." I'm also going to make the holier-than-thou statement that if you're young, you need to consider (unfair) things like how you're dressed, and how you're standing. Improve your posture, and speak clearly and (more) formally. This is all soft-skills, and isn't really anything important from a hardcore "stringing" context, though...

    To the guy referring to you as a "smartazz," I believe your story, but I have to ask HOW you told him. I think that modern graphite frames are EXTREMELY hardy, tough, and saying "sir, this is going to break any second" is hyperbolic to a certain degree. The guy might not have appreciated what he perceived as a "throw away your racquet and buy a new one" shtick. Especially if workers in your shop are known for working on commission...
     
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  32. diredesire

    diredesire Super Moderator

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    Now to make a few comments on the other posts:

    Above is an absolute moot point (besides the fact that you were responding to another guy). You can sell services on top of the stringing. Bumper guard replacement (and labor) is NOT free. But you know what? From a management perspective, if you offer bumper replacement services, you NEED to deal with the overhead of stocking bumpers! This is NON trivial, especially since the ONLY person that benefits from this is YOU, the stringer. Unless the shop is taking a straight up percentage of your pay, that is. However, the few dollars they receive from that "upsell" is really not much compared to how much capital they have to invest in order to maintain bumper stock...

    Yep. The above is pretty much right on. If you dont' have a store policy, you need one. Management should understand that unless they're incompetent.

    GET THOSE TOOLS. I love the micro pliers, and the cutters are OK for what they are, but they're NOT precision machined. The blades don't line up particularly well, so they sort of smash-cut strings, so it can leave little excess-material "bumps" on ends of strings. This is incredibly hard to describe, and most people wont' notice it, but you'll notice when those bumps are on poly... they'll start biting into your fingers (huge aside). The micro pliers are excellent for guiding string past blocked holes. I don't think pliers should really be used to be pulling strings for knots -- I use starting clamps, parallel jaw pliers, or CAM action pliers. I'm 100% OK with having purpose specific tools for these actions, as they do a better job with less string damage.



    Really, though, the "too long, didn't read" version of the above:
    TL;DR: Work on your professionalism, understand that you are practicing a craft, and take this as seriously as you want to be taken by others. Buy tubing if it's going to cause too many waves for yourself. Buy tools if it's a pain in the butt to get GOOD ones. If you want to deal with the guy, make sure you make it easy to deal with YOU. Enforce/remind/install policies if applicable.
     
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  33. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    just edited out part of your post since its so long.

    thanks so much for taking the time to write this dd! i really appreciate your input.

    so yea you are pretty spot on. i am the younger 'kid' and this other stringer is much older than me. so there is 2 components going on here. the first is teh stringer. as you said, and i have concluded myself, iam just going to do my own thing. i care about the rackets that i am doing, especially since a lot of them are juniors/good players so i feel even more obligated. (not to say regular 3.0 players dont matter but they arent travelling 600miles for a tournament every month).

    so yea in regards to the tubing and bumperguards, he basically flat out said he doesnt do it, which is just plain ridiculous. i dont know any stringer that doesnt do this. i think for him its all about the money. so yea.

    which brings to teh 2nd component. you are right there is a disconnect i feel with management. and you are right i shouldnt have said educate them. i appreciate the honest advice and next time i am going to ask them in terms of the bottom line. because thus far i have put it more in terms of what it does for teh juniors, but i guess as a business dollars mean more than anything. so yea. my point was i just figure since we are such a large facility, the pro shop should be more comprehensive. because right now we dont have any of these services. our string selection isnt the best either, but i think that has to do with our sponsors.

    another new thing- some member wanted to build up a grip. so of course we dont have any sleeves or heat gun. so thats yet another thing we dont have. thats basically what i am trying to relate to management. i just want to be a better stringer and i feel without such tools i am unable to perform all the things i need to you know?

    so i guess my real question is how do i relate this to management so they understand? honestly i dont think it will make them much money, but i think the level of service would skyrocket, and hopefully members will come back more?

    to be sure, management has been very very nice to me. its the stringer thats being weird. i just need to do better with communicating with the management.
    ========
    now junior abuse. mostly its just normal. i dont think any kids are intentionally abusing anything. and i have been talking to them one on one when they drop off their rackets. they are not an issue at all. in fact i am pretty happy to string for them. i should again say i used teh wrong word. its not 'abuse' as just normal teenage carelessness i guess.

    =====
    finally the smartazz guy had a wilson 6.2. you know the old black and white frame. i basically just flat out told him 'hey so this thing is busted i am not sure i should string this' and he came back with like 'yea i know now string it and dont be a smartazz'. so yea.
     
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  34. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    bumperguards-yea i understand the issue. this was mostly just what the other stringer said. in terms of the business, i have been telling members to buy their own and i will install it for them.

    so the thing is, the place is very 'friendly'. this is not your typical shop where you have refund policies, etc etc liek you pointed out. the pro shop is just an extension of the facility. so even though i am super serious about my job, i am on the very bottom and everything else comes before me really. just to give you perspective there is over 10 teaching pros here so its pretty big operation. so how do i approach them to create a store policy???

    yea i am getting my own tools.

    finally about the guy: i have been nice to everyone. but hes the one that likes to me tell me what to do, etc. in fact in our conversations he oftens says 'oh this is between you and me only' one time he tells me on the phone 'oh [your boss] wanted me to tell you X" and when i said "oh i will talk to [boss] about it' he immediately said "oh no no dont do that". so stuff like that. my guess is he has an ego issue. by the way i have never told the stringer what to do. its been a one way of him telling me what to do, when to do it. he would text me with stuff like "CALL me NOW"
    but anyways enough about the stringer. its stupid. i dont need to go on about this on the internet.

    what i need to focus on is talking to management and making the shop better so i can do my job better:)

    again, appreciate your post dd
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2013
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  35. Lakers4Life

    Lakers4Life Hall of Fame

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    They are not as good quality as the Xcelite (light blue handled) set I got from Fry's. You almost have to pick through the packages to find a good set, I've found the grindings to be different on all of the sets. I don't use the cutters as much, as I use other cutters instead, like:
    [​IMG]
    or
    [​IMG]


    ZAPVOR, do you work at a Sprot Chalet? You sound like a stringer I know a store near me. ;) If you don't work directly under the "other stringer" but work together, you should always confirm with management. Since you are the younger they will always assume you don't know more than they do. I don't know what the deal is with the tools, but you should always have your own set to work with and you are comfortable using, especially if you are sharing the machine. When racket load is low, and don't have anything else to do, clean your machine. That will show management you are maintaining thier equipment, which I suspect the other guy does not do. I agree with DD, that some stringers think of thier work as just a job, and others like most of us here, take pride in our work.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2013
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  36. diredesire

    diredesire Super Moderator

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    Disclaimer: I'm responding from both the 'business' side of the coin as well as the 'stringer' side of the coin. It's pretty cut and dry from a stringer's standpoint, but since this situation is a little more complicated, my responses are probably going to differ from the 'simple' answers you should be getting from others. I'll take the somewhat-of-a-devil's-advocate role in this thread...

    Alright, with the above information, I think the problem is a little clearer.

    You mentioned the place is 'friendly.' From what it sounds like, this ACTUALLY indicates that the place is 'informal' if not 'unprofessional.' This isn't to say that it's a bad shop, just that it doesn't take the approach that say... Priority One does. There's a level of professionalism that comes with high performance customization and stringing, and this pro shop/stringing room/whatever has shown that this isn't really what it's after. Just understand that this is... OK. It's not the end of the world. If you're on the bottom of the totem pole, in reality there's very little you can do about this as it is. HOWEVER, if you want to pursue this, you need to propose changes, just know that people are VERY resistant to change, especially when there's any level of risk involved. It's easy to modify/change/improve on the low hanging fruit, but suggesting that an entire tier of service that you do not already offer be added to the repertoire is probably not going to go over well -- especially when there's an initial cost.

    Before I get to a strategy to implement policy, I'll respond to a few other points in your post(s):

    Doing your own thing: While this is great, and you SHOULD be taking the initiative to improve your work, offer flexible services, and do your best not to rely on others, you need to be careful to not create waves. If you've got a precedent/tone set in your shop, and you are constantly trying to disrupt it, you're going to get smothered before you have a chance to get anything going. I'm one of those young guys that like to improve processes, but I know better than to jump in without REALLY understanding how/what/why things are the way things are. There may be good reasons (or not so good) that things are terrible. Take some time and ask questions and understand things better. Start conversations with the other stringer and talk about his tournament experience. Talk about how long he's been stringing (just as a conversation starter). Ask if he's got any bigger aspirations and if he's ever thought about turning the operation into something bigger/more serious. Listen to what he has to say -- even though he's dismissing you, it doesn't mean you should do the same.

    As far as obligations to do a good job for good players -- while you already acknowledge that lower level players are still important, from a professionalism standpoint, you need to give an equal amount of care to each racquet. If you got Federer's racquet in the shop, you shouldn't HAVE to do anything different just because it's Fed. Little Joe walking into the shop should expect the same level of service if they're paying the same amount. It's a slippery slope when you start making qualifications on a player. On the extreme end of the spectrum you get attitudes like the one(s) that are dictating the direction of your shop, after all...

    Disconnect with management:
    With all the new information, I have to caution you to talk to the management directly until you have a more complete offering to give them. There are many options for you from what it sounds like. Just be aware that none of those options might actually pan out.

    Approach to create a store policy:
    The 'other' stringer "doesn't do" bumperguards and tubing. It sounds like it's not an official service that your shop offers. Is he wrong? NO. This is the entire reason you need a policy. People operating on their own volition are just going to end up causing friction. He says he doesn't do it, you say you do, he's going to get pissed if people start asking for you specifically. While it's great people want you to do work for them, you don't need to go out of your way to **** someone off. If you are going to provide unofficial services, you need to let your customers know that the service isn't standard policy. He's not actually being 'plain ridiculous' if you think about it from the big picture. His 'job description' in his mind does not include these value-add services, and that's actually OK. It sucks from our perspective, but don't let it ruffle your feathers.

    Offerings: If your facility is already the number one destination for talented juniors in the area, you can use this as an obvious selling point. "We already offer the best junior program within a X mile radius, so our market is pretty secure. We can increase revenue with a minimal initial investment." Of course, a 'real' approach would include market surveys -- even an informal survey to customers with whether or not they'd be interested in service XYZ would give you hard data to provide to management IF you get that far.

    Bottom line: don't even try to talk to management without a business plan. It's wonderful if management is willing to talk with you as it is. Suggesting major changes to their business plan without a FULL understanding of risks/rewards/how much work is involved is going to be like talking to a tree stump. Sure, they may listen to your suggestions with a smile on your face, but they're not going to take it seriously.

    String selection/sponsors: I doubt your string selection has anything to do with sponsors. It is likely as simple as: We will offer what is popular because we know we won't have idle product sitting on the shelf. Every unsold set of string is overhead and it is truly and literally negative profit and/or debt from a management standpoint. If you have to spend $2000 up front to fully stock your pro-shop, but only the 4 popular strings that you've always had are selling, EVERYTHING on that shelf is a loss from a records-keeping standpoint. Be aware of this. If you are going to expand your selection(s), you need to do it slowly unless you're getting a blind budget investment.

    Build up grip: It's not an official service -- make it one or buy your own tools.

    Tools/being the best you can be: Same as above -- If you want to provide that service, you need to provide it yourself. You need to also clear it, as this can actually turn into a liability from a management standpoint. What if you build a grip up and you do it wrong? What if the build up sleeve was provided by the customer? Are you going to return their money out of pocket? There's risk involved with offering unsupported services. Again, implement policy.

    Tone and communications: 'So yea.' Stop that. If this is the way you're talking with other people, especially in real life, you need to start paying attention to how you come across. Seriously. If you're adding 'so yeah' to your discussions with people who are 'higher up' than you, basically you're saying "yeah I don't have a point." If you want to be taken seriously, take yourself seriously. This is a soft skill, and it will likely be ignored, but doing simple things like this will make peoples' perception of you turn more serious. Even if everyone your age is speaking informally, this will only set you apart more in a subconscious way.

    Junior abuse -- looks like there's not much left to say there.

    Smartazz guy - If you're 'just a kid,' you need to choose your words wisely. If/when you have a store policy to fall back on, all you need to say is: "I'm willing to try stringing this frame, but I need you to be aware of the store policy. Since this is a liability, we do not guarantee work on any frames with exposed graphite or graphite damage." There's not much to argue there, and with some solid ground to stand on, there's not much risk of being called a 'smartazz.'

    Shop dynamics: It's fine if you're nice/friendly/cordial but the age discrimination issue still stands. Quite frankly, there isn't much you can do about it, and I'm not sure there's anything you SHOULD do about it. People earn their stripes and they earn the recognition and respect that they get. It sounds like you just need to put in your time and roll with the punches. It's one of those lessons that you carry forward with you. The best thing you can do in life is not turn into that guy. Understand that every single individual has something to offer, and there may indeed be something you can learn even from the dismissive stringer. If he doesn't want to treat you as an equal, that's his loss and his problem, but DO NOT let it stress your relationship. Don't undermine his authority either, that's an amateur mistake. If you have good ideas, discuss them with him, but instead of telling him "I'm going to do this - deal with it," ask him if he's got any suggestions and let him psychologically 'take ownership' of YOUR idea, and if he wants to claim credit, that's fine. Get your foot in the door to operate as equals and be humble. Who knows, eventually he might be coming to you for ideas once he sees positive feedback. Lowest guy on the totem pole gets the shaft and that's just life. He probably DOES have an ego issue, but that's not your problem.

    Not necessarily, hopefully I've done an adequate job of communicating this...
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2013
    #36
  37. diredesire

    diredesire Super Moderator

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    Yeah, for the price they're very adequate and I think they make sense in our line of work. I actually had to return my first set and I opened up at least 4 trying to get one that was aligned. Ironically, some cutters are actually designed with offset blades to increase tool life...


    Edit:
    How to make a business proposal 101:

    Normally I wouldn't really take the time to do this, but it sounds like you are lacking the experience and insight to make a solid proposal. I'm going to give you a few resources, and I'll leave it up to you to actually do the leg work.

    • Google "Proposal Template." Read guides and/or how-tos on creating REAL business proposals. I highly recommend not to make yours as 'serious' as a genuine business proposal, but definitely know the basic sections, and what NEEDS to be in a proposal. Tailor your draft as such. You already indicated the management is laid back and/or not thinking on that level, so write for your audience.
    • Determine what you want to offer (I would also recommend itemizing). This isn't just services. If you want to do sleeves, customization, full racquet service, you need to also consider looking into certifications. That is a discrete selling point that can be referenced. Find anecdotal evidence of what a CRT or MRT sticker in the window is worth (spoiler alert, it's not worth ANYTHING for many operations).
    • Determine the cost. If you have a convenient itemized list, this should be easy. I'd also look into separating the lists -- for instance...
      A) Services - Tool cost​
      B) String offerings - itemized breakdown with total​
      C) Customization - ​
      D) Services - Labor cost​
    • Make sure your goals are clear -- what is it that your'e actually trying to achieve?
    • How are you going to measure if anything actually improved? What's the time line?
    • How fast do you expect returns on your investments? How long until you fully pay off the money you invested?
    • Training and overhead costs - lets say it becomes a store standard policy to offer the new services. Your older stringer buddy ain't (yet) on board. Who's going to train him? How long will it take to have this offered as an official service? He's a road block if he doesn't get on board, too...
    • What are the risks? What happens if no one gives two craps about this?
    • Customer surveys and demand

    As you can see, your work is cut out for you when you do something like this from the low guy on the totem pole. If you go above the head of your coworker, chances are he's going to get SUPER angry. This isn't wrong of him, either. You need to make him a stakeholder, even if it means that he gets credit for the project. If he feels more invested in this undertaking, chances are that much better it will succeed. Just note that from a business standpoint, this is definitely a long shot since the benefits don't generally outweigh the costs here. If you have any more specific questions please list your concerns here. I've got some work to get back to, and I think this is an OK start...

    Edit 2: Lets say in a year or two you actually decide you don't want to do stringing as a 'job' or a 'career.' Documenting stuff like this and actually making a hard business proposal is a HUGE item on your resume -- particularly when you have no previous experience in the industry you are looking to break into. This is something to talk about on an interview if it comes up! I'll additionally note that DATA IS KEY. You can make the proposal... what if it gets accepted? You STILL haven't done your job until you can prove your changes made an impact. Track things and bring it up with management in 6 months -- Hey look -- our service requests have increased by X% over the last 6 months! Take surveys, are people aware there are new services being offered? Are they satisfied? etc.

    In all reality, though, this is a very low value add for most any initial cost -- just my two cents in the big picture.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2013
    #37
  38. fortun8son

    fortun8son Hall of Fame

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    #38
  39. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    #39
  40. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    thanks so much dd for following up! i will come back to it in a minute just got home.
     
    #40
  41. Lakers4Life

    Lakers4Life Hall of Fame

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    Sounds like another place I know. ;) BTW what machine do you use at the pro shop?
     
    #41
  42. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    ok serious now. what place are you talking about??
     
    #42
  43. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    so this is what i bought. first day using it its been awesome. the previous ones weighed like 6lbs and were just massive

    [​IMG]
     
    #43
  44. Andyroo10567

    Andyroo10567 Professional

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    Star 5 ^^^
     
    #44
  45. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    we have a winner! beast machine i want one so bad
     
    #45
  46. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    broken into 2 parts: BOLD is my reply. original font is DD

    Ok first off dd I truly appreciate you taking the time and thought to write this out. In that same spirit, please allow me to reply to you in very specific terms as well.
    QUOTE=diredesire;7228275]



    Alright, with the above information, I think the problem is a little clearer.

    You mentioned the place is 'friendly.' From what it sounds like, this ACTUALLY indicates that the place is 'informal' if not 'unprofessional.' This isn't to say that it's a bad shop, just that it doesn't take the approach that say... Priority One does. There's a level of professionalism that comes with high performance customization and stringing, and this pro shop/stringing room/whatever has shown that this isn't really what it's after. Just understand that this is... OK. It's not the end of the world. If you're on the bottom of the totem pole, in reality there's very little you can do about this as it is. HOWEVER, if you want to pursue this, you need to propose changes, just know that people are VERY resistant to change, especially when there's any level of risk involved. It's easy to modify/change/improve on the low hanging fruit, but suggesting that an entire tier of service that you do not already offer be added to the repertoire is probably not going to go over well -- especially when there's an initial cost.

    The shop is definitely informal. The interesting thing is, the teaching side of things are very organized and strict, etc. but the shop is more of the side project, if you will. Definitely not ****. So I think thats part of the 'history'; the shop has always been this way, and so its just continuing the same way. Which you are right is fine. Its just that seeing these rackets, and getting to know these members I feel so bad about not giving them type of service they deserve you know? Its one thing if I just learned how to string and worked for sports authority and know nothing about tennis, but I care about the sport, the people, and my job seriously. Why not do the job I know I can? Herein lies the problem-and you are right again-the place is probably very resistant to change. Esp since things are 'fine' as they are now. And also, the cost vs revenue is not in my favor.

    Before I get to a strategy to implement policy, I'll respond to a few other points in your post(s):

    Doing your own thing: While this is great, and you SHOULD be taking the initiative to improve your work, offer flexible services, and do your best not to rely on others, you need to be careful to not create waves. If you've got a precedent/tone set in your shop, and you are constantly trying to disrupt it, you're going to get smothered before you have a chance to get anything going. I'm one of those young guys that like to improve processes, but I know better than to jump in without REALLY understanding how/what/why things are the way things are. There may be good reasons (or not so good) that things are terrible. Take some time and ask questions and understand things better. Start conversations with the other stringer and talk about his tournament experience. Talk about how long he's been stringing (just as a conversation starter). Ask if he's got any bigger aspirations and if he's ever thought about turning the operation into something bigger/more serious. Listen to what he has to say -- even though he's dismissing you, it doesn't mean you should do the same.

    Yea this was my initial question really. How do I go about suggesting changes and improving things without being too disruptive. To be honest, management has been VERY nice to me, only the stringer is being weird. They have listened to my ideas so far and are open to more discussion. Get to this more later. But yes as of now I am still getting to know how everything is, etc. the fact is, the place is truly wonderful. The entire staff has been very nice to me, from the coaches to mangement. Again, only exception is stringer.

    So re the stringer: we dont see each other. He comes in the morning, I take the afternoon shift. I am pretty sure at this point he actually avoids me, because he makes sure to find out what time I am coming in, and leaves well in advance. And talking to the other staff, I discover that he doesnt play tennis, etc. its just a job to him. You mention bigger aspirations. Here is a kicker for you guys. He owns his own tennis shop at home! He has now brought to my attention that I should buy my own machine so 'we can make tons of money'. At first I was kind of stunned at this statement, and at this point I really dont want to be part of his 'team' 'making money'. I prefer to work for the facility, for the person that hired me, and not this fellow stringer who's got other agendas. So yes, he definitely has bigger aspirations, and he tried involving me. But now that I have 'disrespected' him as he says, hes stopped that. And yes, he dismisses me. I feel as though he thinks I am a threat to him....
     
    #46
  47. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    As far as obligations to do a good job for good players -- while you already acknowledge that lower level players are still important, from a professionalism standpoint, you need to give an equal amount of care to each racquet. If you got Federer's racquet in the shop, you shouldn't HAVE to do anything different just because it's Fed. Little Joe walking into the shop should expect the same level of service if they're paying the same amount. It's a slippery slope when you start making qualifications on a player. On the extreme end of the spectrum you get attitudes like the one(s) that are dictating the direction of your shop, after all...

    you are absolutely right. I was just making a point so exagerrated a little.

    Disconnect with management:
    With all the new information, I have to caution you to talk to the management directly until you have a more complete offering to give them. There are many options for you from what it sounds like. Just be aware that none of those options might actually pan out.

    Approach to create a store policy:
    The 'other' stringer "doesn't do" bumperguards and tubing. It sounds like it's not an official service that your shop offers. Is he wrong? NO. This is the entire reason you need a policy. People operating on their own volition are just going to end up causing friction. He says he doesn't do it, you say you do, he's going to get pissed if people start asking for you specifically. While it's great people want you to do work for them, you don't need to go out of your way to **** someone off. If you are going to provide unofficial services, you need to let your customers know that the service isn't standard policy. He's not actually being 'plain ridiculous' if you think about it from the big picture. His 'job description' in his mind does not include these value-add services, and that's actually OK. It sucks from our perspective, but don't let it ruffle your feathers.

    So regarding policy, this is something I will look into. You are right on all your points. But look at it my way. Hes going out of his way to tell people we dont provide such services when they are needed, and tries to undermine me by going to management about it and telling me no. hes not in charge of me. My boss is. I think its downright....'wrong' of someone to do that. How would you like it if I went to your boss and said “let's tell DD he cant do X because I dont want to have to do the same work he is”??? honestly I am not sure if hes plain lazy or what....and yes its not his job description, but again: He just wants money,on the other hand I care about giving the best to my customer.

    Offerings: If your facility is already the number one destination for talented juniors in the area, you can use this as an obvious selling point. "We already offer the best junior program within a X mile radius, so our market is pretty secure. We can increase revenue with a minimal initial investment." Of course, a 'real' approach would include market surveys -- even an informal survey to customers with whether or not they'd be interested in service XYZ would give you hard data to provide to management IF you get that far.

    Bottom line: don't even try to talk to management without a business plan. It's wonderful if management is willing to talk with you as it is. Suggesting major changes to their business plan without a FULL understanding of risks/rewards/how much work is involved is going to be like talking to a tree stump. Sure, they may listen to your suggestions with a smile on your face, but they're not going to take it seriously.

    Agree. I will slowly build up a proposal and then present it. But like you say, time. I will learn more and then make the right moves at the right time. Thank you. Now to be certain: management has been SUPERB. I honestly can say I am happy working for them. They are good people, with good intentions and everything. They are just occupied with bigger things, so to speak then a $30 stringjob.

    String selection/sponsors: I doubt your string selection has anything to do with sponsors. It is likely as simple as: We will offer what is popular because we know we won't have idle product sitting on the shelf. Every unsold set of string is overhead and it is truly and literally negative profit and/or debt from a management standpoint. If you have to spend $2000 up front to fully stock your pro-shop, but only the 4 popular strings that you've always had are selling, EVERYTHING on that shelf is a loss from a records-keeping standpoint. Be aware of this. If you are going to expand your selection(s), you need to do it slowly unless you're getting a blind budget investment.

    True to a degree. I wont go into this more as its not big on my agenda right now.
    Build up grip: It's not an official service -- make it one or buy your own tools.
    Same here.
    Tools/being the best you can be: Same as above -- If you want to provide that service, you need to provide it yourself. You need to also clear it, as this can actually turn into a liability from a management standpoint. What if you build a grip up and you do it wrong? What if the build up sleeve was provided by the customer? Are you going to return their money out of pocket? There's risk involved with offering unsupported services. Again, implement policy.

    Yea bought my own tools. More on the way. And I didnt even get paid yet


    Tone and communications: 'So yea.' Stop that. If this is the way you're talking with other people, especially in real life, you need to start paying attention to how you come across. Seriously. If you're adding 'so yeah' to your discussions with people who are 'higher up' than you, basically you're saying "yeah I don't have a point." If you want to be taken seriously, take yourself seriously. This is a soft skill, and it will likely be ignored, but doing simple things like this will make peoples' perception of you turn more serious. Even if everyone your age is speaking informally, this will only set you apart more in a subconscious way.

    Haha sorry. Here on Talk Tennis its pretty much comedy for me. You know this betetr than us as you see the crazy posts everywhere. And I contriibute to it myself, no doub.t but in real life I am pretty professional. Or I try to be anyways. I definitely dont say 'so yea' and that kind of thing. But yes you are right. Thanks for reminding me.


    Junior abuse -- looks like there's not much left to say there.

    Smartazz guy - If you're 'just a kid,' you need to choose your words wisely. If/when you have a store policy to fall back on, all you need to say is: "I'm willing to try stringing this frame, but I need you to be aware of the store policy. Since this is a liability, we do not guarantee work on any frames with exposed graphite or graphite damage." There's not much to argue there, and with some solid ground to stand on, there's not much risk of being called a 'smartazz.'

    this was one incident. Over and done.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2013
    #47
  48. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    sorry 3 parts TT wont let me post more than 10k word posts

    Shop dynamics: It's fine if you're nice/friendly/cordial but the age discrimination issue still stands. Quite frankly, there isn't much you can do about it, and I'm not sure there's anything you SHOULD do about it. People earn their stripes and they earn the recognition and respect that they get. It sounds like you just need to put in your time and roll with the punches. It's one of those lessons that you carry forward with you. The best thing you can do in life is not turn into that guy. Understand that every single individual has something to offer, and there may indeed be something you can learn even from the dismissive stringer. If he doesn't want to treat you as an equal, that's his loss and his problem, but DO NOT let it stress your relationship. Don't undermine his authority either, that's an amateur mistake. If you have good ideas, discuss them with him, but instead of telling him "I'm going to do this - deal with it," ask him if he's got any suggestions and let him psychologically 'take ownership' of YOUR idea, and if he wants to claim credit, that's fine. Get your foot in the door to operate as equals and be humble. Who knows, eventually he might be coming to you for ideas once he sees positive feedback. Lowest guy on the totem pole gets the shaft and that's just life. He probably DOES have an ego issue, but that's not your problem.

    I honestly think the age discrimnation is strictly from the stringer only. The more I think about it the more I think he feels threatened by me. He realizes I am actually doing a good job,etc. Its funny. Let me tell you some things thats happened:

    1-tuesday night I stay until 11pm to catch up on rackets. I leave 2 rackets in que, with natural gut. Wednes we were both out. Come today, thursday, the guy wants his 2 rackets but they are not done. Now remember he comes in the morning, I come in afternoon. So when he came this morning, those 2 shouldve been first to do. But instead he skips them and leaves them for me in the afternoon.

    Flash back-my first week on the job he leaves me 2 rackets with natrual gut. He calls me on phone and says to me “i just want to see if you know how to string gut”. so....i wonder if he's scared to string gut??

    2-members are already requesting me to string their racket. One even said the other stringer messed up his reel. And hes been there about 10months longer than me. I am barely on my first month here.

    His actions are not stressing me. Its just that hes going to management about it, and they in turn veto my idea thanks to him. But yet at the same time when he talks to me on the phone he keeps saying “oh this is between you and me noone else” and he always acts scared when I say stuff like 'let me talk to [boss] about this” I am not sure I need to go on....


    and to be sure, i am not trying to undermine him. all i have been saying is 'hey i think this customer needs this done so how can i go about doing it without using my own money" and instead of supporting me hes made sure customers are not getting what they need.

    imagine you going to a auto shop with flat tire and the guy says 'oh you dont need a new tire, but lets see why dont you buy a new paintjob'. hes basically picking what he wants to do, and makes sure i dont get to help customers myself as well so he doesnt look bad? its just absurd.


    or even worse. say one day you go into teh office and your boss says "oh DD you can NO longer use [essential tool] to do your job because your co worker says its not necessary and hes doesnt want to use that tool so he doesnt have to do the job that the tool relates to"
    Not necessarily, hopefully I've done an adequate job of communicating this...[/quote]
    __________________




    finally, again, thank you DD. your reply is greatly appreciated. i hope to learn and improve as i go on.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2013
    #48
  49. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    here is whats happening. if it wasnt for the stringer, all the suggestions i made to mangaement would have already come to pass. they are very open and helpful, but every time something comes up they say something like 'oh but the other stringer says its no big deal it's not needed. so yea, the problem lies there.
     
    #49
  50. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    #50

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