Marine Fabricator May/June 2021 - 20

THE MOST DIFFICULT
CUSTOMERS ARE
ENGINEERS, OR PEOPLE
WHO THINK THEY KNOW
SOMETHING ABOUT
FABRICATING CANVAS
WHEN IN FACT, THEY DO
NOT HAVE A CLUE. "
-Russ Griffin
Northcoast Marine
Specialties LLC
Chris Shuman, president of Custom
Canvas and Cushions, checks the quality
of a boat cushion before it leaves the
workshop for installation. Shuman prioritizes email communications with clients
so his company always has a record of
order specs and changes. Photo: Custom
Canvas and Cushions Inc.

20 Marine Fabricator | May/June 2021

would exhaust every effort to make every customer happy. I learned that in
some cases, you'll go broke trying to
please some people. We do the best we
can, and I have a clear conscience. "
Demanding but not difficult
Clients who want input into every element of their custom orders aren't
necessarily in the " difficult " category. In fact, says Russ Griffin, co-owner of Ohio-based Northcoast Marine
Specialties LLC, demanding customers
are his bread and butter. As such, he
and his staff spend hours questioning
them and learning their exact preferences before ever starting their projects.
" We chose to cater to a market that
few shops want to deal with-the demanding affluent, " he says. " Their attention to detail has gotten them to where
they want to be, and they are willing to
pay to get exactly what they want. "
That's not to say their specificity
never tries the patience of Griffin and
his employees.

" The most difficult customers are engineers, or people who think they know
something about fabricating canvas
when in fact, they do not have a clue, "
notes Griffin. " The second most difficult is the person on a budget. They will
call you a dozen times to see if the estimate is ready. During the project, they
will call every day to ask when it's going
to be completed. "
Prevention is better than cure
There's no escaping the fact that certain
customers will lack integrity, common
sense or simple good manners. At the
same time, fabricators have a vested
interest in protecting their good name,
which is why many take proactive steps
to minimize their negative interactions
with such people.
Shuman says he's taken time to study
up on state-level legal rights for businesses so he can't be intimidated by
false claims. " Lawyers overall are usually the worst, " he says. " They think they
can get their way by threatening litigation and don't expect us to know our
protections as a business. "
Shuman says he's quick to respond to
any potentially damaging reviews posted
online. " It's easier [these days] for problem customers to try to hold us hostage
with a bad review ... we've had several
do it, " he says. " It's important to respond
even to the bad reviews. [But] realistically, a bad review lends credibility to your
good ones. People realize you can't please
everyone; if all you have are good reviews,
sometimes it can seem like they're fabricated to boost your online rating. "
In the interest of preventing customer miscommunications, Innocenzi says
he's invested in a wider array of material
samples to give out or mail to customers
who can't visit his showroom. He also
sends clients photos of work in progress,
both to confirm their expectations and
to make them feel a more important
part of the process.



Marine Fabricator May/June 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Marine Fabricator May/June 2021

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Marine Fabricator May/June 2021 - Cover2
Marine Fabricator May/June 2021 - 1
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