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Senior Member
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Regarding the recent post on us getting our *!?#* together...

I am truly sorry for the inconveniences that have been caused recently due to parts that were delayed in shipping or the occasional shipping errors that are made. We have invested a huge amount of money and time into this challenge over the years and if you read the posts recently you might think we’re not doing a very good job.

I want to explain some underlying causes of this problem and let you know what we are doing about it. I certainly don’t want to upset anyone or EVER minimize anyone’s legitimate complaints. All the folks here at FFR work for you and my job is to make you happy period. I do though think that silence on this issue makes it seem worse and people have called me and asked me to address this question directly. I sat down and read the post on (FFR get your *!?*# togther).

Mistakes and delays happen and they are never right. We are working right now as hard as humanly possible to correct any problems. We really are.

Most of the problems of the last 2-3 months have been due to a MASSIVE change from our old system to a new computer based information system that is really better in many ways. Three years ago we went through a similar upgrade with the office and inventory and this one is even more significant as it ties shipping, the office and tech support RGA’s together in one program that is linked to the finance/general ledger side of the company.

When we changed over a few months ago there were some unanticipated errors in the conversion which lead to a lot of customer orders being either duplicated (Jim Huntzler got two sets of Pin Drive wheels) or in some cases their orders were lost/misplaced. The database applications were to keep SEQUENCE consistent and fair so that customer names were not the driver behind deliveries (first come first served).

Here’s what we’re doing right now to help anyone with a specific backorder problem.

1. We are calling every customer who has a part on order here to let them know the anticipated delivery time of their order.
2. If anyone has ANY problem, question or concern, please call Steve Dutton at our main number 508-291-3443 or email him at [email protected].
3. If Steve does not accommodate you 100% call me directly. I will deal personally with any question or problem ahead of ANY other issue period. The only way you’ll have to leave a message is if I am on the phone with another customer in which case I will call you right back.
4. Our webmaster has put a "red-line" hot-link on our website for any urgent matters (recalls, safety concerns, complaints, urgent questions, etc). We promise a response direct to you within the hour (during business hours EST).

I hope this solves the immediate problem and helps people with their builds. I hope this also serves as a reminder to everyone that the people who pay our rent are the boss.


I am now going to speak candidly about this problem because it is not simple, nor are the people here at FFR anything but the brightest, hardest working, most decent and most caring people you will ever meet.

I know some of you who are complaining don’t want to hear this but what we do here at FFR is not bad at all but simply AMAZING!

Let’s look at a standard kit sent out on a standard week.

We consistently average between 5 and 10 line items per kit backordered. That means the part was not available in packaging at the time of the kit shipment and we have to forward it (usually via UPS) on our dime. Over the years I have seen this number grow to as much as 15-20 items per kit, but over the long run it averages less than 10.

It also takes us an average of about three weeks to complete an order. Some orders go complete, some linger for horribly long periods of time due to specific delays (like the recent coil spring nightmare or the 351 header problems with hooker), but these are almost un-avoidable incidents caused by sheer statistics and math or inevitable human error. (no doubt we can do a better job following up with folks affected by these things).

Let’s take a look at our simple standard kit with two common options.

A standard roadster kit has
449 Line items unique parts (fabricated and purchased)
2101 Total individual parts
213 Tube steel and laser cut plate steel parts
871 Welds on frame and suspension

A simple 3-link option has
39 Line items (unique parts)
116 Individual parts counting welded assemblies as one

A simple gauge set has
28 Line items (unique parts)
117 Total individual parts


This kit (which only has two options) contains 516 separate unique and distinct parts that are either purchased from an outside supplier or fabricated from scratch here at FFR. The kit contains 2,547 individual parts and pieces. We deliver this kit with an average of less than 10 parts (we count a single nut or bolt as a part) backordered.

That is an average of 0.39 % parts backordered. Remember Crutchfield, the Giant electronics clearing house? They BRAG about 95% ship rate (that would be 5% backorders or for us an equivalent of 127.35 parts per kit. And that would be if we were selling mass-produced off-the shelf stereos and VCR’s here instead of custom fabricated high performance racing parts!

I also know all those numbers aren’t impressive when you have no springs and you can’t keep working on your car but bear with me here…

On any given week we ship 20 kits and sell an average of 150 catalog items. That equates to the following in only ONE WEEK.

10,320 Individual and distinct parts, pieces and assemblies
50,940 Total items, parts and pieces
150 Catalog items per week
1,000+ Total items contained in number 3 above

The reason why the second number is larger than the first is because there are some parts (fasteners, steel pieces etc) that are used more than once in a kit, ie. a 10mm bolt may be used 2 per kit)

It is amazing to me what we do every day. We take raw materials of steel tubes, aluminum sheet metal, British parts (that were made by individual craftsmen for a car that was built over 35 years ago in extremely small quantities), we use raw resins and chemicals to form shapes that have to fit perfectly over tolerances that have thousand of variables. We buy fasteners and parts from a huge variety of cottage industry suppliers and deliver over 2,000 parts in each kit, custom made to four people a day from all over the U.S. and the world.

You may say “well Superformance has no problem with this”. Thing is that they build completed cars TO STOCK. We build and sell kits custom TO ORDER. They are different businesses. We don’t have a kit waiting for you. All Kit companies that I know of are “MAKE-TO-ORDER” owing to the very custom nature of the product. I also know that companies who have no backorders don’t sell very much product. If we sold 30-50 kits per year like ERA do you really think we’d have any trouble (and they still do). Superformance also doesn’t use many original parts as they make ALMOST everything themselves.

We also accommodate custom orders and changes with ease, most times at the last minute, with an average lead time of less than eight weeks on an order (Mail order Miracle Mops please allow 6-8 weeks for delivery). My wife ordered a table from Ethan Allen (ugh) and it took three and a half months to get there. When it arriverd the table surface was backordered! I smiled the smile of a man who knows... Don't make it right.

We stand by our product no matter what and replace parts that are many times bad or broken through no fault of our own (by the way most of the small British parts makers DON’T even accept returns!).

By delivering 20 kits and over 600 UPS boxes each week we deliver more than 52,000 individual line items and parts each and every week. Our parts and assemblies are for the most part, custom designed and engineered by us and involve in most cases multiple manufacturing steps and QC’s.

We’ve designed, built and shipped over 4,000 car kits and although we have a money back guarantee, we’ve NEVER had a kit returned.

We’ve struggled with the limitations of good people in a cottage industry. Suppliers who provided parts in the 1960’s for a car that saw a total production of 300 427’s and 900 289’s are now trying to meet the demands of close to 1,000 FFR’s per year (not to mention other kits that use these same parts).

It’s not always the suppliers fault. We make scheduling errors, parts get damaged and human error is ever present. No doubt we can do better and we’re working at it. Even today we are re-doubling our efforts. My business assessment is that we are doing an outstanding job AND we have a long way to go. Against the backdrop of the volume of custom made parts that are delivered routinely without incident, our problems seem relative.

We have indeed outgrown our small cottage industry while remaining loyal to many of those suppliers who have actually hurt us on delivery.

Before you hang us out to dry too bad consider also the business model that we operate in. Not all businesses are the same.

Here’s some companies that differ dramitcally in products, services and business models… WalMart, Factory Five Racing, Inc., Microsoft, Franks Custom Cabinets (local custom contractor), Ford Motor Company, NAPA parts counter, Amazon.com

One of the World’s and most technologically advanced companies, Microsoft, sells software that doesn’t work. Its defects cause millions of dollars in productivity losses due to locked up computers, virus susceptibility, defective code and simple incompatability issues. We even accept that the expensive computer AND software we buy today will be obsolete in a few years (regardless of how well it works for a given application). We accept this because it is the nature of the product. If our banks were this way with our money we would never tolerate it. Every business exists in an environment that indeed affects its products and services greatly.

Each business has different rules AND expectations. It is not accurate or fair to expect a custom home builder to play by the same rules as WalMart. The products are different and while underwear is a commodity, a hand-made custom designed mantle or cabinet or furniture piece is special because it is NOT a similar commodity.

You are happy when WalMart has underwear in stock and you are ALSO happy when it takes a year to have a custom chopper built for you. When we apply the same rules to everyone we can get pretty mad. I gave the guy my money, where is my product?! That works for a CD player from Crutchfield (95% of the time!) but not for a set of custom aluminum Halibrand racing wheels made by one guy by hand in a small shop in So Cal who cares about art and not volume.

I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten the wrong part from NAPA or a backorder from Jeggs or Summit, only to get a postcard four months later saying the part is discontinued, tough luck.

Thanks for reading my long message. I could go on and on. Bottom line though is it’s not the customer’s job to care, to understand or anything else. The customer expects nothing but the best and deserves nothing but the best. One thing is for sure, as we have grown over the years our products and services have steadily improved. That is my promise to you all. You have a group of people out in New England who are different than any company I’ve ever known. They care about you more than you’ll ever know. You have our commitment to do our very best to serve you and we are thankful that you guys are the best customers in the world.

I gotta get to work.

Dave Smith
President
 

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Premium Member
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Dave - Just the very fact that you are here and posting this message speaks VOLUMES about Factory Five Racing.

Thank you!
 

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3,760 Posts
Thank you Dave. Well said, and fascinating statistics. I've said it before and I'll say it again -- I appreciate everything you and your people are doing up there. I'm building my dream because of you guys. Managing growth isn't easy, hang in there.

Let me also add that when I picked up my Roadster last Saturday, I think Mark Dougherty was more picky during the inspection than I was!

AJ
 

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Premium Member
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1,205 Posts
A little communication goes a long way. Thanks Dave!
 

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449 Posts
Dave,

I was a bit frustrated at times when I first recieved my kit over backorders, particularly receiving the car without a passenger door, trunk lid and rear cockpit aluminum. However, your people were great to work with and took care of problems swiftly and courteously. I think frustration is a result of enthusiasm and I was never more enthused about doing anything in my life.

As others have said, if not for you and your brother, a lot of us probably would not be able to drive one of the coolest vehicles ever to terrorize the roads of our great planet.

I have been in manufacturing for 30 years and I fully understand what you have been going through with your growth. Hang in there continue to carry the torch.

Tanner
 

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FFCobra Craftsman
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2,854 Posts
Dave,

As Lincoln stated.. You can please all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time but never all people all the itme..

You have pleased over 3,000 of us big time.

We all have had slow downs in our builds, some F5 related, some UPS related, most self related, but in the end I believe we purchased your product because we wanted to build a CAR and your company offers us one of the best products with the best customer support and customer base (FFCars Forum to start)

As mentioned taking time out to respond to a loud cry for help personally as the owner of the company speaks volumes.. Anyone try and call some of the other vendors/manufactures out there? Yeah right some are not even in business but still try and sell you a kit?

Factory 5 is a class act and with growth comes problems... Best of luck in trying to keep ahead of the curve..

A happy MK1 owner..
 

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Well Dave, after reading your post and realizing that 4469 had just a handful of back-ordered parts, I'm in awe. Thanks for helping make our dreams come true.
 

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As one of the loudest complainers these last couple weeks I appreciate and thank you for your note Dave. I also appreciate the complexities of your business and am certain that you are doing your best. As a small business owner I am often at the mercy of suppliers and delivery companies too.

I look forward to my call from FFR regarding my backorders.
 

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Thanks Dave for taking the time to explain this. Running a business is rewarding and frustrating when customers complain. You're like me, you want everyone to be happy. You guys try as hard as you can and we should be happy you had a dream! Thanks!

Take care and good luck in 2004!

- Bill
 

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I agree with what the others have said. The fact that you have taken the time to put these things in perspective is an example of why FFR has such an increddible group of loyal customers.

Thanks for such a great product and for caring about your customers!
 

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FFCobra Fanatic
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Dont have my kit yet but it's a good feeling to know that you'll be taken care of. I'm pretty sure its been stated many time before, "were all one big cobra loving family".
 

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Dave,
The fact that you are responding here is the type of customer service that made me buy a FF cobra. You care about the customers and from what I can see are doing everything possible to make US the customer happy. That's the kind of company I want to do bussiness with.My kit is due for March delivery and I'm looking forward to the build.

Jeff W
 

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This is the main reason I have a FFR in my garage, and not ERA/Unique/Classic/Etc.
 

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And I believe what Dave said is Correct, honest and from the heart.

I've built two FFR's both had backorder parts but I was Never held up by them. Until you've dealt with a real company who was Slack please think twice about complaining.

Something I bought from a vendor here back in October... He promissed me two weeks before all the parts could ship and I paid him in full and said "No Problem". After 4 or 5 phone calls and way tooo many "Mike, Give me Two Weeks and they'll Be in the Mail". I just reveived the parts this past Tuesday. (I won't mention this companys name but if you really want to know who it was email me.)

Factory Five Has Their $*#! together in my opinion. If if wasn't for FFR many of us wouldn't build these cars. They Are Engineered extremely well. How many multi-million dollar companies can you walk into and actually talk to one of the owners or President(s) or pick up the phone and call them?

I know it's been said before but if you have a problem with a company, try talking to them before you come down on them here. I could have posted something about the company I had problems with here (since I know many of you purchase parts from them) but I didn't. I tried to be understanding and cut them some slack and they came through.

Dave I'm sorry there's not more company owners who have your honesty and that really care.

It's funny I have people come up after looking at #2335 and ask, "Is it Real of a Factory Five"? I think that says something for FFR.

Mike
FFR-2335 & 3917 SB
Second Place SAAC 2001 Charlotte NC
 
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