Thread: Weird stringer
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Old 02-21-2013, 08:21 AM   #36
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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...

Originally Posted by zapvor View Post
clipclip -- too long
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 ****ed 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.

Originally Posted by zapvor
what i need to focus on is talking to management and making the shop better so i can do my job better
Not necessarily, hopefully I've done an adequate job of communicating this...
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Last edited by diredesire; 02-21-2013 at 08:41 AM.
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