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Thread: Zanconato Custom Cycles

  1. #21
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    Default Re: Zanconato Custom Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by TJ View Post
    Mike ~ cool of you to do this. I have a shortlist of bikes I am lusting over. Speedvagen, Gaulzetti and a Zank. The SV and 'Zetti are lusted after as a new race bike. The Zank is coveted as a "forever" bike and that leads to my question. I know alot of people are like me and have to scrimp and save to get there dream bike. Do you ever get apprehensive when someone recieved there bike ? Know what I mean?
    TJ, my pleasure. Thank you for participating.

    Another toughie. I would by lying if I said that I don't stress about EVERY bike. Absolutely. These bikes cost a lot of money. A lot. I never forget that. I always ask myself "if I were spending this money, what would I think?".

    There are customers with whom I get the sense early on that maybe it's not the right fit. Maybe the bike is a bit too far outside of my expertise or that we are focusing on things that really aren't my thing. I've learned to be OK with that and part ways. It's better to save both of us the time, money and energy.

    All I can do is rely on my training and background, our conversations, the checks and double-checks along the way, and a forceful encouragement by me to each customer to say "hold on" whenever they aren't comfortable. In the end, I want each customer to be thrilled with their bike. I'll do what it takes to get it done. But 9.9 times out of 10, the customer has seen the bike in photos along the way and are psyched about what is being shipped. That helps me rest a bit easier at night.

    Thoughts?
    Mike Zanconato
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  2. #22
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    Default Re: Zanconato Custom Cycles

    Mike,

    Talk to us about the tools. I know you've just started using a whole bunch of beautiful new jigs, tables, presses.

    How does the tool affect the work? The product?
    GO!

  3. #23
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    Default Re: Zanconato Custom Cycles

    Mike, how many hrs per day on average do you spend 'at the bench'? Do you keep regular shop hrs? Do you keep(or try to) a rigid structure or do what has to be done that day?

    Thanks
     

  4. #24
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    Default Re: Zanconato Custom Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by zank View Post
    three years ago
    I wish I had known how understanding most people are when sh*t hits the fan. Instead of setting unrealistic goals, missing them, and upsetting my customers, I should have been more forthcoming about my situation and figured it out from there with each of them. It's something I still work on everyday.
    ^This!

    Quote Originally Posted by zank View Post
    There are customers with whom I get the sense early on that maybe it's not the right fit. Maybe the bike is a bit too far outside of my expertise or that we are focusing on things that really aren't my thing. I've learned to be OK with that and part ways. It's better to save both of us the time, money and energy.
    ^ And This Too! I think turning down customers is the hardest thing to get one's head around but makes life so much better.
    Baltimore Bicycle Works

    FLICKR

    Natty Boh and Lonestar Enthusiast

  5. #25
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    Default Re: Zanconato Custom Cycles

    zanc
    how long is the typical frame transaction? from first call to delivered frame?

    and by how long i mean time of course but also how many communications does it take?

    is a visit helpful, necessary or required?
     

  6. #26
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    Default Re: Zanconato Custom Cycles

    Zanc,

    What percentage of your time is spent actually building frames vs customer communication, ordering supplies, paperwork, answering questions about yourself on forums etc

    Also, most of buying a custom frame is about aligning your worldview with the builders. Which of the mass-produced bike brands do you admire the most and which is the closest to your worldview?

    Keep up the great work.
     

  7. #27
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    Default Re: Zanconato Custom Cycles

    Mike, I was under the impression that you were going to Med School. Does this mean you are going with frame building as a career? I love learning about the guy who made my bike btw!
     

  8. #28
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    Default Re: Zanconato Custom Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by zank View Post
    Without a doubt, my friend. The paint is the first thing people see and, from my experience anyway, what people go over with a fine-toothed comb. It's a difficult thing when somebody finds a flaw on a part of a frame that I don't have much control over, except to tell the supplier that it has to be redone. That goes for any of the subcontractor work. Another example is the engraver I use. I've had to scrap entire lots of lugs and BBs because the logo was not where I wanted it or the finish work was not up to my standards. The worst thing I can possibly hear is that a rider sold a bike to another rider because the subcontracted work wasn't deemed to be up to the level of the rest of the frame. Ouch. Let me tell ya, that hurts. And it really haunts me to think of how many sales I've lost that I don't even know about because of similar situations. I want to control everything, but I know that's not possible. I can only trust that my decisions moving forward are the right ones based on what I've learned so far.

    Thanks for the question! Thoughts?
    ronnie's thoughts: if all business ventures --- one man, small, family or corporate, maintained your philosphy-- client/customer.....

    my best for your success....
     

  9. #29
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    Default Re: Zanconato Custom Cycles

    Hey Zank,

    How would you describe the framebuilding process? I mean, what about the process inspires or motivates you? What gives ya "warm fuzzies" at the end of the day?
     

  10. #30
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    Default Re: Zanconato Custom Cycles

    Brother, as many here have said I am a big fan of your work, but probably more so on the few conversations we have had. You have always been very professional and helpful and trust me that is incredibly appreciated.

    My question is one of marketing and sales. Most folks here (this is a bold assumption) know about you and your work. I am curious how you bring new customers in who might not have heard of you or be that familiar with the brand. I understand advertising in print and so forth, but do the majority of your customers come to you konwledgable as they have been lead via friends, forums, or other builders? Do you ever get a customer who saw one of your bikes and might be looking for their first real (interpret that as you wish) bike?

    How do you guide a beginner who wants to purchase a Zank?
    Dave Bradley...not the grumpy old Hogwarts caretaker "Mr. Filch" or the star of American Ninja 3 and 4.

    formerly "Mr.President"

  11. #31
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    Default Re: Zanconato Custom Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by e-RICHIE View Post
    i'm only picking on you because you're a neighbor but...

    there's another question i wanna throw out atmo -

    what is the task in framebuilding that most confounds you , and has it always been that one,
    or would the answer change at different times in your career? ps mass fickung rocks, huh.
    Maybe it's because I build so many cross bikes, but adjusting the angles of the BB and DT lug to suit the tall fork has always confounded me. Sometimes the metal moves easily and the sockets align themselves happily. Other times, the metal is so stubborn that I want to set the parts aside for a road bike. In a weird sort of way, it's like they know what they want to be. I guess that's one of the things I am most anxious about before starting a new frame. I wonder if the parts I lay out for it will work with me or against me. Sometimes, it's like they have a mind of their own.
    Mike Zanconato
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  12. #32
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    Default Re: Zanconato Custom Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by davids View Post
    Mike,

    Talk to us about the tools. I know you've just started using a whole bunch of beautiful new jigs, tables, presses.

    How does the tool affect the work? The product?
    Speed. Accuracy. Precision.

    The tools make it possible for this to be a sustainable business. Well designed and rigid fixtures or machines, like the Anvil tooling and the Bridgeports, set up fast, set to where you expect them to be, and produce repeatable results. The set up fast part speaks for itself. The "set to where you expect them to be" and "produce repeatable results" parts though, well, those save me time later on. This time may be in fewer corrections or rework. The time saved is also in simply knowing that I can forge ahead.

    I suppose you can say that a tool doesn't affect the work as much as it affects the process. Ultimately, I could get the same finish line with other tools. It just might take longer.
    Mike Zanconato
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  13. #33
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    Default Re: Zanconato Custom Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by corko View Post
    Mike, how many hrs per day on average do you spend 'at the bench'? Do you keep regular shop hrs? Do you keep(or try to) a rigid structure or do what has to be done that day?

    Thanks
    This one varies tremendously. Since I am currently doing all facets of the business, from book keeping to ordering materials to shipping to designing softgoods to doing frame specs to doing fits to answering email to answering the phone to doing inventory to actually making frames, it really depends on the week. Teh goal now is to produce 6 framesets a month. I do keep regular shop hours most days, unless I have a ton of computer work to do. I'm generally more productive doing those tasks from home, as I have fewer distractions and my home PC is nicer to work with than my laptop. I really have to go with the flow for the day or week. Things pop up, like having to empty a room to pour a new floor. But, in general, I work a lot.
    Mike Zanconato
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  14. #34
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    Default Re: Zanconato Custom Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by Tommy Nash View Post
    ^This!



    ^ And This Too! I think turning down customers is the hardest thing to get one's head around but makes life so much better.
    You said it, brother!
    Mike Zanconato
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  15. #35
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    Default Re: Zanconato Custom Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveP View Post
    zanc
    how long is the typical frame transaction? from first call to delivered frame?

    and by how long i mean time of course but also how many communications does it take?

    is a visit helpful, necessary or required?
    Man, that all depends. Some give me 4 contact points and basically turn over the keys to their cycling life while others are involved every step of the way. I would say 2-3 phone calls and 5-6 emails on average though. A visit isn't necessary, as most of my customers are not within driving distance. It's really nice to meet the local ones though.
    Mike Zanconato
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  16. #36
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    Default Re: Zanconato Custom Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by Tristan View Post
    Zanc,

    What percentage of your time is spent actually building frames vs customer communication, ordering supplies, paperwork, answering questions about yourself on forums etc

    Also, most of buying a custom frame is about aligning your worldview with the builders. Which of the mass-produced bike brands do you admire the most and which is the closest to your worldview?

    Keep up the great work.
    Again, this depends on the week. Sometimes I can put my head down and work work work making frames. Other weeks it's like nothing gets done. And when I say nothing, I mean nothing revenue related. Shipping bikes pays the bills. It frustrates me just working on overhead.

    I would say Colnago, because I believe they want to make bikes that get the snot beat out of them on a daily basis.
    Mike Zanconato
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  17. #37
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    Default Re: Zanconato Custom Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by Shinomaster View Post
    Mike, I was under the impression that you were going to Med School. Do this mean your are going with frame building as a career? I love learning about the guy who made my bike btw!
    Thanks, John!

    Yes, that was my big decision in 2008. I wanted to put 110% into this. My heart wasn't into the other track nearly as much as this one.
    Mike Zanconato
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  18. #38
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    Default Re: Zanconato Custom Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by roguedog View Post
    Hey Zank,

    How would you describe the framebuilding process? I mean, what about the process inspires or motivates you? What gives ya "warm fuzzies" at the end of the day?
    I would describe it as a process that continually evolves. Every frame is an opportunity to improve and learn. The thing that motivates me is that I know there is no real "golden moment", just a series of small ones along the way. I mentioned above that sometimes it seems like the materials have a mind of their own. Taming them when they act up is the real key.
    Mike Zanconato
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  19. #39
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    Default Re: Zanconato Custom Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.President View Post
    Brother, as many here have said I am a big fan of your work, but probably more so on the few conversations we have had. You have always been very professional and helpful and trust me that is incredibly appreciated.

    My question is one of marketing and sales. Most folks here (this is a bold assumption) know about you and your work. I am curious how you bring new customers in who might not have heard of you or be that familiar with the brand. I understand advertising in print and so forth, but do the majority of your customers come to you konwledgable as they have been lead via friends, forums, or other builders? Do you ever get a customer who saw one of your bikes and might be looking for their first real (interpret that as you wish) bike?

    How do you guide a beginner who wants to purchase a Zank?
    I love all of the business related questions! Very cool.

    I have been very fortunate to earn referrals from Richard Sachs and Sacha White. They have been incredibly gracious to include me on their websites. I get a number of emails and phone calls from prospective clients saying that they found me there. I'm forever grateful for that.

    The only truly controllable sales and marketing tool I have is to make the best bikes I can. Every bike is a rolling billboard and the rider a spokesperson. I think that's why I sell so many cross bikes. I truly believe that static ads without dialogue (print or web) are dead. Consumers are too savvy for that. They need real discussion. Now, that's not to say that I don't or haven't done print ads. I do. I support the businesses and publications that I believe in. I also sponsor races that I want to see survive a long, long time. I think there's value there. Good will can go a long way. Being aligned with other like-minded events and businesses can help bolster both (or all) of the businesses involved.

    The brand really is about riding, racing, and the culture of cycling. Nothing makes me happier than seeing my customers stop and say hello to each other at a race venue or a ride or in forums with nothing more in common than a love of the sport and the same guy's name on the bike. That's my reward.

    I do get a number of "first-timers" with respect to this being their first made to order bike, mostly in the cross scene. The best way to guide them is to start with the basics. They may not know how much they actually know. It's just trying to extract what they know that is tricky. Honesty and conversation is everything. I also have a mountain of possible questions to ask that can usually get us to where we need to go.

    Thoughts?
    Mike Zanconato
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  20. #40
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    Default Re: Zanconato Custom Cycles

    This was asked in some form earlier, but ... why steel?

    Thanks, great, great thread.
     

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