Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Small Business Man (4) - Remain Calm

One thing I've really had to work on in the last little while is to remain calm. Or, as Michael Scott puts it, "chillax".

It would be great if businesses ran smoothly without error. It'd be like the application matching the theory, to a tee. But when was the last time you had something go as smoothly as planned? Most of us aren't that fortunate.

For YourSuit, running smoothly would mean that the made to measure suit fits the client on the first try. It's precisely why I don't rush measuring, and also why I ask clients to bring along a suit they already own as reference. Together, we do our best to construct the ideal fit in the client's mind, but you'll never truly know how everything works until the final product is ready.

Despite my efforts to 'chillax', I still get nervous every time a client comes to try out their new custom suit. I'm anxious the moment I hand it to them. There's a rush the moment the items are transferred; clients get all excited about seeing the fully constructed suit, running their hands over the material and feeling the inside lining. We chat about the colour, the lining and share a few laughs. Sometimes, the client's better half has accompanied them to the fitting and gives his/her two cents. "See! I told you pink lining would be cool!" they often say. But throughout this entire time, all I'm thinking is God I hope you like the fit. Please, please tell me you haven't gained or lost any weight.

The client steps into the change room and starts suiting up. I'm left alone, waiting outside, listening intently to their every move; the click of the the door closing, the swift brush of fabric as it's hung on a hook, a belt unbuckling, the light tapping of the client's feet against the floor. (Am I creepy or what?)

On the outside, I'm all smiles. But on
the  inside, I probably look like this.

All I can think about is what's happening on the other side of that door. I know I'll see the client again in a few seconds, but from the moment they disappear from my sight to the moment I see them again feels uncomfortably long. To help my anxiety, I've started playing 90's Hits (via Songza) in the background during client fittings to break this intense silence. It helps, a little.

Nothing like a little Ace of Base to chill you out...

Finally, after a verse and chorus, the client steps out. I shake off my anxiety and together we have a look at the finished product. I've never asked, but a part of me believes that the client is probably just as nervous as I am. The client steps in front of a mirror, admires the appeal of a fresh suit and might even twirl a few times to see how they look from all angles. I pull up a chair so they can feel how the suit fits when seated. After this test drive, they deliver the final verdict.

If the fit is perfect, then it's Christmas. I've witnessed many clients slip on that perfectly fitted suit; their eyes open up and a grin warms up their face, even if they try to hold it in. They check themselves out a few more times, might snap a few photos, and then change out. This is precisely what happened at EncoreFX a few weeks back:

If an alteration is needed, then we make it happen. I used to feel extremely disappointed when an alteration was required; it was as if I let the client down. I'd look over all the measurements again, trying to pinpoint why something didn't quite work the way it was supposed to. On top of that, I'd start thinking about other suits I currently have on the go; do the same problems exist? My mind would start snowballing, creating stress.

Though I hate admitting it, my wife is consistently the voice of reason. It's easy to feel down and out if you're expecting perfection every single time. She reminds me that going custom is a very specific and detailed process; alterations should be expected, and getting things right on the first try should be the anomaly. Getting the suit tweaked is not a failure; it's more that the suit was 99% there and just needs a little help for the last 1%. And stressing out over that last 1% is not worth it.

I'm still working on this mentality. It's tough to get anything 100% right on the first try, so it's important to remain calm and 'chillax' when things don't go quite your way. You are your own worst enemy sometimes, and I can definitely attest to that. In the end, things will get done and problems will be resolved.

The (Ace of Base) beat will go on.