Tanning - A tricky business

Submitted by Steve Rotramel on 7/15/06 at 12:19 AM. ( rotramel@midwest.net )

I've helped a few people get into the business.

One of the things I stress to them is the need for a thick skin when it comes to dealing with customers. As the owner, you will often get blamed for issues either beyond your control, or beyond your present capacities, okay? But that's not all, and it's not the purpose of my post.

NONE of us wants for things to go wrong or get behind. We all want and enjoy happy customers! We're all working hard to make that happen!

But the fact is we're working with a very unforgiving medium - animal hides.

I held a cape in my hands two months ago that had a slipped patch about the size of a quarter RIGHT ON THE FACE! I could have chewed nails!

NO WAY on God's green earth that should have happened. Nothing wrong with the rest of the batch, nothing wrong with the rest of the cape, every box was checked, "T" crossed and "I" dotted. Shouldn't have happened. But it did, right in front of me.

The customer was very understanding; but disappointed. The replacement cost me over $200. Makes me wonder why I'M in this business.

He could have come on here and tore me a new butthole, just like some other folks have done with other tanneries. I'm grateful that he didn't.

I know there are probably some operators out there that don't give a rip about their customers. But folks, they are few and far between.

So feel free to vent when something goes wrong, maybe the tannery deserves it. But think about it first. Maybe they really don't.

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This response submitted by David Patton on 7/15/06 at 8:25 AM. ( )

As a vendor, I see other tanneries at taxidermy shows and they usually say the same thing. "We care about our customer". Sometimes as you pointed out, things come up bad. That does grate on us. No way any of us can stay in business if we don't have customer satisfaction as our main focus.

All true.

This response submitted by ej on 7/15/06 at 1:02 PM. ( . )

But AH! the glory of a beautiful fur. and to think, you, the tanner had a major play in the many hours and miracles that go into making such an item. We must swallow the bitter with the sweet in this business/life.
Thanks to the lord for the good people we have in the biz, and on this forum! And most of all this great country of ours. My father and his family are from Norway. And they have one of the best standards of living in the world. But with no disrespect to my family. i wouldn't give up one acre of soil in this good ol'usa for the pompus Norwegian King and his whole kingdom.


This response submitted by mrdux on 7/15/06 at 7:15 PM. ( mrdux@refugemail.com )

I have replaced several capes for customers at no charge that I either messed up or were too much work to fix from damage before I got them. I have done this to help establish my business even though I have a sign in my shop the says "All tanning is at the customers risk". I will be charging for replacement capes from now on due to the beating I have taken replacing them. Why did you feel you had to replace the mentioned cape? I know there are always unforseen problems that can happen and that tanning is an exact science. I also know that most of us try to make chicken salad out of chicken crap very often. I'm guilty of not totally inspecting all capes for possible problems before I start on them. Was this a special situation or your normal way of doing business? I commend you for being a stand-up guy. I just can't continue to take the loss on capes that I may or may not have been able to work with in the first place.


This response submitted by Steve on 7/16/06 at 6:34 PM. ( )

We inspect very carefully and call the customer if we find potential problems. Even though I could find no fault with anything we did, neither could I find any fault with what the customer did or with the cape itself prior to tanning.

We call customers fairly regularly to warn of potential problems, but they almost always tan out fine.

It's very rare to have a "good" cape develop a problem; so we took care of it.

I would not and do not replace capes that had prior problems. We let the customer decide if they still want the piece tanned after they are made aware.

Good luck MR Dux.

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