Back from the road, notes on Communications

Builders

It has been 18 days since we returned from Brodhead/Oshkosh/visiting family, and it is 18 days until we leave for Corvair College #26. I have laid off writing in the last few weeks to get a number of things done like returning calls, prepping for CC#26 and getting ordered parts out. Over the next 18 days I am going to return to updating this site every day. I have notes and photos on 16 stories, and we have a new item called “Deal of the Day.” Keep checking in, there is a lot in the pipeline.

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We came back to 600 emails (1/3 real, 2/3rds trash) and 87 messages on the answering machine. I have worked my way through most of them, and we will have gotten back to everyone by Sunday. Normally this goes faster after Oshkosh, but Grace also took time to see family after our return. If you had a question in to us, and we didn’t get back to you by this weekend, please resend it, preferably with a subject line containing the word ‘Corvair’.

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Several of the people I called back politely asked why I didn’t pick up the phone when they called the first time. In spite of our website and the message on the machine, several people were unaware that we were at Oshkosh. Others found it very odd that I am one of the few Americans who doesn’t carry a cell phone. Even if I did, these people didn’t understand that at Oshkosh you get up at 5:30am and literally speak to people until 11 at night, for eight days straight. There just isn’t 20 minutes anywhere in the day to call anyone back. I am also one of the few people who do not speak on phones while driving. I will also confess that while I am visiting my 87-year-old father, I focus all of my attention on being there with Dad. Unless it involves a safety of flight issue, It can wait a few days until I get back to Florida.

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During a typical day in the shop, the phone will ring a bunch of times. If I am engaged in a task like welding, in the middle of an engine assembly stage, or working on a plane, I will generally stay focused on the task and let the machine get it. A guy asked why I didn’t just have the sales department answer the phone. I politely pointed out that we are a small mom and pop business, and if I was going to hire another person, they would make parts, not answer the phone. Keep in mind that I also have to go to our 4 machine shops during business hours, and also make the 4pm mail run to the post office.  During the day, 1/3 of the people hang up without leaving a message. I have had the same guy call 20 times in a week, and never leave a message.  When I reverse dialed his number, I got the voice mail system where he works.  If you don’t leave a message, I can’t call you back.

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When leaving a message, please leave me a number that I can call you on in the evening, and how late I can return your call. I can cover a lot of calls in the evening. I often spend several hours between 7 and 12 pm answering questions in great detail.  You are always welcome to call 904 -529-0006 as late as you like. It only rings in the hangar, and it will not disturb us if you call late. About 1/2 the nights of the week I am in the hangar until midnight. If you ever ring the phone and it tells you the mail box is full, it is an electronic fluke caused by me not having call waiting, but also having some type of phone company complementary voice mail that I don’t want. This message just means I am on the line with a builder already.

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The absolute best way of contacting us: Send me a short email that looks like this:

“Subject:  Corvair engines, question from Bob Smith

Bob smith here: Please give me a call back on my house line 608-123-3456 or cell, 608-234-5467 any time up to 8pm CST. I have a number of questions about a Zenith 750. Thanks.”

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 If the message involves sending you anything, please send your shipping address in the email. I you send me a note that says you need 3 pushrod tubes that are not dented, I can put them right in the mail, even if your note arrives at 3:30pm. If I have to search email and read a lot of cryptic email to understand that Flyboy26@gmail is Mike Brown, and then I have to figure out which of the 5 builders we have named Mike Brown has that email, and then go to the cabinet to find his five year old registration page with his old address, then decipher where he moved to, chances are I missed the post office closing at 4:30. (BTW, that was an actual example) All avoided with some simple steps. Anyone willing to make some small adjustments in their communications will find out that I have a long track record of detailed service to builders. Look at all the photos of flying planes on our website. Obviously these builders received parts, information and support from us. What is the difference between their experience and some guy on the net who claims to have called me 100 times without answer? Often something very simple, such as the people who went on to finish planes left a message on the machine or sent email that had a real name and a phone number in it. Small adjustment, large result.

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Above, Grace took this photo while we were driving on the 3,400 mile trip.  Mechanical simplicity for self reliance and quest for simplifying my life, living without distractions and seeking peace are constant themes in my life. This truck left the GM assembly line in Flint Michigan 27 years ago. It is one of the last vehicles GM ever made that has no computer in it. The only instrumentation is mechanical oil pressure, mechanical water temp, a fuel gauge and a tach. It has no speedometer, the blue tape on the dash is an RPM to MPH conversion in 5th gear. There is no radio, I like to spend the driving hours thinking. I have not spoken on a cell phone while driving a vehicle in many, many years. Most people are nowhere near as good as they think at ‘multi-tasking’. I strive for just the opposite; I like being focused on the moment at hand, be it reading a book, having a conversation, flying a plane, learning something, making a part or driving a vehicle.

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I do not need, nor expect builders to share these same values or priorities. I have a 20+ year track record of working with hundreds of different successful builders as ample evidence that I can adapt the delivery of the information we have learned  to fit a very broad variety of builders. I can absolutely state that the builders who got the most out of what we offer with the lowest stress were the ones  who were reasonable enough to meet me half way and accept that I do not carry a cell phone on me 24/7 and I still treat email as electronically delivered mail, not an instant message. If I am speaking with you on the phone, welding your mount, testing your ignition, or answering your question in person, the task has my 100% attention. I do not put people on hold, I don’t ‘multi-trash’ when working on aircraft parts, and I don’t have a cell phone to keep glancing at when I am in a conversation. There are many advantages to the way I work and live, and it really only requires a small adjustment in a builders expectation to understand that real service is being focused on delivering the correct part and answer, not the quickest answer. 

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In the consumer world,  ‘the customer is always right.’ The more money he is spending or the more important he feels he is, the more ‘right’ he is. In aviation, Gravity, Physics and Chemistry are always right. No one in the arena of flight, no matter how rich or self-important, has ever proven this trio wrong. Successful builders are the ones who learn how the trio works, and build a plane that harnesses their absolute reliability to work for them. Teaching this is my craft, I am good at it, and I look forward to working with anyone who wants to learn and expand their skills. -ww.

About William Wynne
I have been continuously building, testing and flying Corvair engines since 1989. Information, parts and components that we developed and tested are now flying on several hundred Corvair powered aircraft. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics and an A&P license from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and have a proven 20 year track record of effectively teaching homebuilders how to create and fly their own Corvair powered planes. Much of this is chronicled at www.FlyCorvair.com and in more than 50 magazine articles.

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