Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Year 1 is nearly finished

Hi all! It's hard to believe that not only has it been a year since I made a post here, but also it's been a year since I returned from Colorado and started my business. The good news is I have been way too busy to do any writing.

So what's happened? Well a lot of great experiences and important lessons in the first year, that's for sure. Overall I would say that I'm very happy with my results so far not just from an earnings perspective but overall for the business in terms of networking, business development and professional development. I've been fortunate that I've had to make some choices about where to devote my energies and have actually turned work down on a couple of occasions where I felt it was not the right thing for me at this time.

- landing steady work with Merriam Pianos has been a blessing and I can't say enough about what a great bunch of people they are to work with. Very professional and personable, and I get to work on some nice new pianos.
- landing steady work with Steve Jackson pianos. Steve is also a great guy and has been extremely generous with his knowledge and time with me. I have learned a ton of stuff about rebuilding pianos with Steve and I'm grateful for the experience.
- the private clientele is developing well, although there have been a few gut wrenching dropouts in business from one month to the next. April was less than one tenth of March and the summer has been dead.
- I got my first rebuilding job! It's a beautiful Steinway A grand that was a thrill to work on. Here's a little slideshow of the project.

- being in traffic a lot SUCKS. I could write a whole posting about the horrors of it but we all live with it every day. One of my long term goals is to reduce my on-the-road time to 50% and spend the other 50% in my shop. I'll earn less but it's worth it to me.
- working on a lot of really awful old pianos for some private clients is not that fun but there's always a lesson. I had one really awful old thing that I could hardly tune and then the owner/mom told me both of her girls got their RCM grade 9 on it. You can never judge. Other times the really beautiful pianos sit unplayed and unloved.
- I stink at bookkeeping.

- none.

Other observations:
- most people are really nice when they have you in their homes. I've been variously offered soup, dumplings, and tea (no sex though), and always enjoy being offered little slippers at the Chinese homes, usually three sizes too small. Some people are not so hospitable though. If you had someone in your house for 2-3 hours would you at least offer them a glass of water?
- most new pianos are bought by Chinese people. I would say 75% of my Merriam calls are to Chinese homes.
- my funniest moment came when I was distracted by some sort of commotion behind me while tuning a piano, and turned around to find my client's dog chewing on MY shoe!

So in all, it's been a very satisfying start and I am as keen as ever to push ahead. The priorities for year two will be to lessen dependence on retailers for work focusing on private in home work, and to develop my skills and clientele in the restoration work.

Talk to you again next year!