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Old 10-23-2002
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What is REALLY up at Sailnet?

Sorry to see so much speculation... things are tought but getting better by the day. They''re not however, so dire or even as planned as some believe.

The short version is that we''re a small company, as cash-constrained as any other in the current economy. For those of you who haven''t noticed, it''s tough out there ;-) Add the reality of being in an business where every purchase is discretionary and you have to be extremely careful. In our case, we tried to manage our inventory with the idea of moving everything at the end of August and the curse of a very slow summer. We were probably too cautious. We''re working to correct that... but part of the solution is realizing that we can''t be everything to everybody and trying to eliminate those lines/products that don''t move well or are redundant. You''ll see some serious sales as we make those changes.

That said, we''re managing our way thru what is a huge transition for the company. In the past two months we''ve closed a warehouse, moved 5 tractor trailer loads of inventory and fixtures, opened a new warehouse, moved all our people to a new building (co-located with the warehouse), moved the call center and customer service twice and sold off the mfg business. Tomorrow we''ll be down for about an hour 4:30p to 5:30p while we move the last bit, the servers. We certainly didn''t plan for all the fallout but it is what it is and we''re managing our way through it.

Much has been said about an ACD and booting people off the phone and all that. It simply isn''t true. We''re just not that sophisticated. Our phone switch is a plain vanilla ATT Merlin and we rely on a vendor to maintain it. Some of the phone problems can be traced to trying to maintain two locations on equipment not designed for the task. Hopefully that will all end by the end of this week as everyone comes under one roof and the "patches" go away.

As for customer service, it has been a challenge due to these changes. They have been overwhelmed. We''ve also taken a hard look at what our customers expect and how to best meet those expectations. We believe that we can offer three things people want: 1) low prices, 2) free freight and 3) No sales tax. The quid pro quo is that we can''t offer Ritz Carlton Service when we''re charging Hampton Inn prices. Take a look at Amazon, you won''t find a phone number anywhere on their site.

We aren''t going that far, but we are striving to offer reasonable service that is balanced with our pricing. Paying for a customer to call every day, or speed dial an 800# just doesn''t make sense. There''s no margin in that business. So, to be fair to all our customers as well as ourselves we''ve taken the steps of changing the customer service interface. We''re going to ensure that each customer gets their issue addressed in the order they contacted us. We''ve also implemented a call management db so each issue is logged and tracked. Calls will be routed to a voice mail box and our goal is to provide an answer within one business day. Our preferred method of contact will be email as it''s faster and more cost-effective. We also have CSRs on email who work later hours so the response time is often shorter. We''ve redesigned the Customer Service web interface so it''s more efficient and hopefully easier for the customers.

We''re making all these changes because we plan to be around for a very long time. The business has to make sense and that means being rational about the price/service equation. We believe our customers will understand and support that transition as it unfolds.

FWIW, my email is sam@sailnet.com If you''ve got a question then feel free to email me and get the direct answer.
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