Back in April of 2011, I put my website online for business. I plan to putit back online... but not without some serious changes. Sander, I should have listened to you earlier, but was too hard-headed to do so. Instead, I learned many of these lessons the hard way.
Belief #1 - All people are patient and understanding.
Lesson #1 - Only about half are patient and understanding. I only kept stockof parts figuring I could build an order within 36 hours. Surely this isacceptable. I mean, it's a custom made product, right? WRONG! I'd get huge orders and they'd expect them inthe mail in 4 hours. Forget about if I had something important to do such ashave minor surgery (twice), rush to a nearby town to help a friend in need, ortake care of the elderly neighbor who's husband of 40+ years just died of cancer. Or maybe I promised my girlfriend I'd take her out on a date on the motorcycle the next nice day we had. FPV vendors are people, not computer run stores.
Belief #2 - It only takes 5 minutes to pack a box.
Lesson #2 - It takes about 20 - 30 minutes to pick out a box, tape it up, pack the box, weight and label it for shipping, process it through the system,a nd report it to Uncle Sam so he can take half of your profit per order no matter how big or small the order is. If there are 20 orders, that's an 8 hour workday.
Belief #3 - People will go to the forums to answer their questions.
Lesson #3 – We all know searching the forums takes time and often comes up short. However, asking questions on theforums usually gets several responses within minutes. People ask questions on the forums about 1 time in 4 queries despite the fact that the response comes in less than 1/4 thetime and you get many answers to pick from.
Belief #4 - You can please everyone if you try hard enough.
Lesson #4 - Some people simply can't be pleased. If the product they ordered doesn't magically cure their problem and fit perfectly to what they had in mind,they're not happy. Every once in a while somebody will tell me "your XYZ product is defective" despite the fact that they might not have even triedit yet. The only chance you have of pleasing this person is to send a new one with full test report and video showing it works, and never asking for the old one back.
Belief #5 - Customer service is simple. An FAQ is usually sufficient.
Lesson #5 - Customer service is where a vendor spends 75% of their time if not more. It is a sunk cost as you gain no money from it. Giving out your phone# is a terrible idea as you’ll get calls and texts for immediate help. Short answers to even the simplest questions come off as coarse and leave a bad taste in the customer's mouth.
Belief #6 - All the stuff sold for FPV has the same reliability andperformance.
Lesson #6 - Some vendors do an incredible amount of research into their products before stocking them. Often, they have them custom made specificallyfor FPV. The ones that are active and have good customer service usually have notably better quality products.
Belief #7 – There is such thing as “best”.
Lesson #7 – There never is a best… and never will be. There is only the best for a certain personin a certain situation. The best a vendor can do is take an educated guess. And the truth is, asking on the forums and knowing who’s advice to take is usually better. The best person to answer the what is best question is usually the person asking the question.
Belief #8 – A vendor can remember the details.
Lesson #8 - Trying to remember the details of any inquiry is an exercise infutility. Most vendors get dozens of inquiries per day. If the context of thereply doesn't have the full conversation, you'll be lost in trying to respond and go searching through your Emails for context.
Belief #9 – HD cameras are great for FPV.
Lesson #9 – The truth of the matter is, HD cameras are poor for FPV flight due to processing times (latency), poor BLC (back light compensation), and poor low light capabilities. How HD gots tarted for FPV probably came from Trappy’s mountain surfing videos. Contrary to what GoPro would lead you to believe, HD does not make you a hero. HDis not FPV. If you want to stand out, do something original and spend 4-6 hours editing a 3 minute video.
Belief #10 – A local vendor should compete with the overseas vendors on price.
Lesson #10 – A local vendor doesn’t have a snowball's chance in a volcano to compete with a vendor in China... at least not on price point. They have a taxrate of 10% and a government behind them helping them along the way. American (and I'm sure other vendors) have a 45% tax rate and a government that would like to see you succeed... only because it means they get more money from you. Fortunately, the customer service from those vendors is often appalling at best, they have minimal product support, and their ship times are anywhere between 2 and 18 weeks.
Belief #11 – Reading the forums is an efficient way to learn enough to be successful.
Lesson #11 – The forums are great to figure out a solution to a puzzling problem or to read about the latest technology available. However, the fastest way to learn FPV is to pick a vendor, buy a minimally complex system, and go fly it. There is no substitute for experience.