Our Dirty Laundry (August 2018)

Through the years I have owned several businesses, all IT based. By far, BenzForce is of most interest to me but unfortunately it is also the most time consuming, offers the lowest return on investment, and logistically challenging. In this blog I will share the behind the scenes scoop on what’s going on with the business, to try to get us all the best deals around for our builds. If you haven’t already read my blog “ Why BenzForce Matters...” you may want to do that first; it may add perspective about my positioning.

Replacement Parts:

For pure replacement part sales, it’s pretty simple and all is running smoothly. I do my best to order in enough bulk to offset the distributor’s shipping cost over the parts allowing me to beat my foremost competitor. So far I haven’t found any “consumable” parts I have been undersold on from the same manufacturer. In some cases this literally requires me to have margins of a couple pennies but so long as I don’t start seeing negative profits when spread over entire orders, I can live with that. For higher priced items like head gasket sets, full chain kits, bearings, etc I order on demand. In these situations the margins are extremely slim after shipping but over time these items will end up being stocked and will work itself out. Therefore when someone places an order for a full build, I trust you have found that the pricing is very favorable but it may not be marked as shipped for a couple days while I wait for the most costly items to arrive from the distributor.

Performance Parts:

Special parts however are a little different. Forged rods, springs, etc are unique ordering situations. Rods, springs and pump parts I have to order in bulk to make it worthwhile. Shipping individual items from Sweden is not cost effective and the delay would make for a negative purchasing experience. As a result I am sitting on about 5-10k of custom products even in a low inventory situation.

Engines:

Engines in particular have been a major pain point. People look at $1500-$1800 for an imported engine and think it is way overpriced, especially when they see them in the forums for $500. Until you have been through the process and understand all the customs fees, warehouse, and broker fees involved you really do not understand what it takes from a time and money perspective. The bigger issue is finding partners that are trustworthy and reliable.

We made our final payment, several thousands of dollars, in March to complete our second engine order. It was to be shipped “less than container full” from the UK to the port of Houston. After a lack of information in the first order I decided to put certain measures in place to make sure that the second order went smoother. Despite my best effort, the dismantler went dark, no longer responding to emails after taking the last payment. No shipping information was supplied, and now I cannot get emails returned so I have no follow up or recourse. It is possible the engines are still in transit. The first order took a long time waiting for the container ship to fill up but I have no insight and given the length of time I must assume the worst. Putting the money aside, I really feel that I have let my customers down and frustrated that I put my trust in the wrong partner. I am trying to find another partner but shipping remains the financial hurdle that needs to be overcome.

Services (Pumps):

On the services side, I have been blessed and cursed with pump sales. I totally guessed wrong on the market as I felt om603 pumps would be the bread and butter market, but much to my surprise om617 pump builds have led the way. Because of my biased market view, I had limited Dieselmeken 617 MW pump kits on hand and we now have a backlog of orders. In addition due to vacation schedules over the summer I had failed to plan appropriately. Lastly there were some details on the calibration unique to these builds that didn’t come until late in the game – post game in one case! Needless to say we are scrambling on the pump side but we will catch up soon.

Customer Service:

I am constantly hit with questions I simply don’t have an answer to. Unlike other part suppliers (or swap shops) I refuse to play the expert on things I have no experience with or things I do not feel I am 100% confident in. I hope you NEVER see me in a video touting how great I am or how great my project is; typically it is the opposite. I simply do not have all the expertise to answer the various questions I get and am not ashamed to say so. In the end I often refer people to the forums on Facebook – there are many knowledgeable people in those groups to help. If the question is about something I have done I am obviously happy to share my experience(s).

As a consumer myself I want my dollars to work for me and want the best I can get for each and every dollar I spend. However, on the business owner side of the coin, I have run into the situation where a potential customer feels entitled or that I need to earn their business. Dealing with this has become a personal challenge. Remember, at this time this is not my living, it’s the promotion of a movement (community). Big difference in mindset and tolerance level.

To the point above I don’t want to sounds like a grade A butthead. I would like to think that most of the MR300D and BenzForce USA Facebook followers would find me extremely responsive to questions and more than willing to contribute where I can. I love the interaction with the people and go into each post without any expectation of response, sale, etc.

Conclusion:

There’s my dirty BenzForce laundry. As selfish as it is, I am in this market space because I want to be – there is no money, there is no fame. This is a community and I am glad to be in it with you!!!

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