Dumb-Ass Stupid Management: Model Trains

Here’s a nominee for the DASM Hall of Infamy.

I’m considering buying a property to have a new train layout built. As some of you know, I’ve built a couple in my home, but now all our rooms are assigned other uses and I want a professionally built layout, not one where my wiring might blow up the town.

As you can imagine, money is not an issue. Logistics, relationships, trust, and so forth are. I wrote to eight companies which advertise that they build and design layouts from the ground up. This is probably a six-figure project over time.

Three businesses never bothered to respond after a week. Three are offering to do basic designs for a fee, to be followed up by building and implementation if I choose one of them. One I dismissed because the owner talked solely and at agonizing length about how good they were and how expensive this will be, and then failed to send me the paperwork to begin some design work. Normally, I’d include him here as my feature, but read on.

The final one is an operation called Dunham Studios. The owner wrote to me, I wrote back, it seemed like they had the capability. I asked for the next steps to proceed, such as a design. He told me that his staff “Had a hard time getting their hearts into design without a commitment for the layout itself.” I asked how I could commit if I didn’t know what on earth they would design. I suggested we talk by phone, and reiterated that I would pay for any design work.

He then wrote these astonishing sentences: “So, I think the poison to pick is a phone call.  That will surely lead to the best ‘way to proceed.’ Just pick up the phone.”

Pick up this.

Small business is undermined by small minds. It’s not the government, or the consumers, or the competition, or big box stores, or technology. It’s people like this who believe that customers are the enemy and relationships unimportant. Why would you spend money advertising when you drive people away with a toxic personalty?

I want a train layout, and this guy is a train wreck.

© Alan Weiss 2016


5 thoughts on “Dumb-Ass Stupid Management: Model Trains

  1. Building layouts was a side profession I had thought of for my retirement years, but after reading this, maybe I should change over now. They don’t even look up your name and your website? You’d think they’d be falling all over themselves trying to get your business.

    I’ve only built one ‘learning’ layout so far in my spare time, to gather up the skills I’ll need to make my ideal layout in the future. It’s just a hobby for me. In going to train shows to buy stuff, one important thing I learned is that I’m good with just doing this on my own without joining a club, if you know what I mean.

    • I just don’t want to take the time it would require to build, wire, and populate a very large layout. I’ve done that twice with smaller layouts. You’re quite right: Google your prospect and learn something. I’m staggered by these guys, and by a web expert who told me he “didn’t have the bandwidth for any more business”!

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