Originally Posted by blt2ski
Would you also not ask the, "WHERE" do you plan to sail etc? Not sure one needs a true ocean going sail if they generally speaking are in area's that are not above 30 knots, or will motor in those cases. Also, what about light days? I have a 130 jib made of literally 3 oz nylon spin cloth! granted max designed wind is 5-7knot apparent going upwind, but that is another story.........maybe you did and I am not seeing this.....I always worry personally about some of the web based places, where one can not order based on the need you will use a given sail for, like my drifter for example!
It should also be pointed out, Med sailor and myself would have a LOT of use of that iron genny sail the last few days, not sure the wind got about 5 knots if at all! must be from the temp inversion, and stagnant air issue locally!
Yes, indeed, I do ask that question right after I ask "what kind of boat do you own"" and "how long have you been sailing?" I do interview my customers extensively about their intended use for the sail. I'd love to use your post as an excuse to write a long post about my sailmaking business, but that's against the rules on Sailnet, so I won't go into detail about my wonderful customer service
However, it is within the rules of Sailnet for an expert in the sailmaking industry to contribute to the general knowlege, so that's what I did in my previous post. I explained how you can use Challenge's technical documentation to see if a loft's recommendations for sailcloth are close to what Challenge recommends.
As a sailmaker, I immediately noticed that there was a discrepancy between Precision's recommendation for sailcloth on their webpage for a Formosa 41 and Challenge Sailcloth's documentation. My post focused entirely on that discrepancy.
I can't comment about their business model, their sailmaker resumes, or their customer service -- because I know nothing about them except what I see on their website.
About online saillofts:
Sailmaking has changed alot in the last 20 years, with the rise of the internet.
There are several good, reputable online sailmaker's webstores. There are bad ones too, since anyone can pretend to be a sailmaker. At the good ones, you can talk to a real sailmaker about your needs on the phone. Most customers don't buy sails often,and aren't well informed about the complex technical aspects of sailmaking, so it's hard for customer's to figure out who's a good sailmaker and who isn't.
Real sailmakers have names, addresses, learned their craft somewhere, and have verifiable resumes. That's also true of independent representatives for major name brand lofts, like me. We all learn the trade from experienced people in the trade.
In my opinion, a good sailmaker can have an online webstore as well as deliver personal service and advice. The two approaches to customer service aren't mutually exclusive, IMO.
The best sailloft websites uses online webstores as a way to communicate efficiently with a lot of boat owners. I use my webpages to convey a lot of information about sailcloth and construction features. The graphic design isn't very slick (I did it myself and I'm not a web designer), but the content is excellent. I try to use every page to create well-informed customers who can make good decisions.
Here's the most significant difference between an online loft and a full service loft: online sailmakers don't drive to your boat, measure your boat, drive back to the loft, drive to your boat to deliver your sails, or go sailing with you.
If a sailmaker makes two or three trips to your boat, it's a half a day each time. When customers ask me how much I charge to drive to their boat to measure it, I tell them it dpends how far away they are from my shop. If its on my part of San Francisco bay,and it takes me half a day, it's $300 added to the cost of the service. If it's on the other side of the bay, and it'll take me a whole day, and I charge $500 for the service. At that point my price isn't competitive compared to a loft that's located nearer the boat.
[Full disclosure: My name is Judy Blumhorst, and I am an independent representative for Hyde Sails USA and a small business owner]