Hi Pen Fans.
I have the results of the recent survey. In all honesty, I had no idea how beneficial this would be for myself and my business. There were many items that I learned from doing this. This survey will greatly benefit me in bringing my customers what they like.
BIG THANKS to all of you for participating! I had tons of responses, and they were all taken seriously. All of you obviously put some thought into this. This is exactly what I needed to get a view of my business from outside my bubble.
I would like to address some items that came up, give some general updates, and outline some changes that will or have occurred as a result..
There will be 6 items to cover....
1. IT SHOULD BE EASIER TO FIND CUSTOM MATERIALS ON THE WEBSITE.
The biggest item that I received feedback upon is that it's not easy to find custom materials. I have been hosting everything on FlickR, and some people find this difficult.
I'm going to give some consideration as to whether I continue to use FlickR to host my photos. In the meantime, I'll give some strategies that I think some people are not aware of that make FlickR much easier to navigate.
A. I realize that there are lot of photos on FlickR. When you go to my main Flickr page here, look in the upper-right hand side of the page. You will see a search field that says "Search Edisonpenco's Photostream" by typing in "ebonite", you will see every pen in my photostream that is made of ebonite. If you type in "green" you will see every pen that has green in the title. If you type in "celluloid" you will see every pen that is made from celluloid. You get the idea. By using this search field, you can go to the FlickR site with any composition, color, or any restriction at all, and narrow things down to your particular tastes.
B. You do not need to sit on my website and wait on a slideshow to see my material choices. Actually, leaving my site and going to FlickR is best. You can visit this link to see all models of my pens. From there, you will see thumbnails. And then every photo has a description so that you can tell what the material is.
These tips will be copied to the website pages, as well.
As stated, I will also consider other options for photo hosting.
2. HIGHER END vs. LOWER END
The responses about continuing higher end pens, as well as offering lower end production pens were split evenly. Some people were very negative about going with a lower end production model. They felt that I should only go higher and higher. Then some people were the exact opposite.
Here's what will happen....
The high end line will continue with Ernest at Hakumin Urushi as Limited Editions, and also custom one-off's. There will also be some other high end offerings that will be announced later. However, I will also begin to offer a production pen. It will probably be made in only three materials, and will be less expensive. No customization. There will also be a better rollerball option that will be priced lower.
The biggest concern that people had, however, is stretching myself too far...focus on one or the other, or something will suffer. I will have no problem doing both, and also keeping the same customer service and product quality. The production pens are easier to make, since it's the same materials, and I can operate it like an assembly line. It's easier and faster to make 20 identical pens in production style than it is to make only 5 completely custom pens. I'm not changing the quality of product in any way on the production pens. It's simply much faster to line up each operation and do them repeatedly. Once the lathe is set up to make one type of finial, for example, I can make lots quickly. With a custom pen, I need to do a completely different set up for each part, which consumes a lot of time. Lastly, my 5 year-old is in pre-school three days a week now, so my wife has a lot more time to help me with administrative work, shipping, and other production needs.
3. OFFER SOME SPECIALS
I'm taking this very seriously. I will continue my holiday raffle of a free pen, but I will also consider holiday specials, and also summer specials.
4. SMALLER PENS
A lot of people appreciate the Grande models of the Herald and Huron, but obviously this is going in the opposite direction of people who want smaller pens. There is a smaller pen in the works. It will use a #5 nib. The exact time to market is yet to be determined.
I had a lot of comments to have some overlay options. I'm actually already at the prototype stage on a phenomenal overlay pen. Keep you ear to the ground. This should be out within a month, I hope.
6. STOP SHIPPING PENS IN TUBES!
People that made these comments probably haven't ordered a pen for a while. About 6-9 months ago, I found some nice leatherette boxes for shipping pens. Since then, I recently had some pretty phenomenal presentation boxes arrive, which you can see here.....
One comment based on the survery results....If you aren't happy with your pen for whatever reason, PLEASE LET ME KNOW! The finer qualities of fountain pens are very user-defined and individual. It's impossilble to manufacture a pen that will appeal to all. If your nib isn't what you expected, LET ME KNOW! I'll take care of it.
To conclude, I would like to again thank everyone for participating in the survey. Everyone took it seriously, and this really helps me to make the right moves with Edison. I really like to be in touch with my clients, and this really helped a lot. Maybe I'll do one of these surveys annually to serve as an "Edison Check-Up".
Brian at Edison