Friday, August 01, 2014

In Which I Learn About the New World

Two stories with (I think) a common thread.

One:  I succeeded in breaking the zapper for the Chez Buce Toyota so I popped by the dealer looking for a replacement. The service guy reached into his drawer and pulled out a pasteboard.  "Call him," he said, which I think meant "he's way cheaper than we are."

I forgot about the card until I was cleaning out my pockets the next morning.  But I did find it, and popped him an email about 6 am.  He responded about 615 am: I think I've got what you want, I'll call you. 

I got a call about 930 am as I was going out the door.  I've got the part, where can I find you. No, I'm on my way out the door right now, why don't I find you.  I'm in the service lot at the Nissan dealer, you'll recognize my truck.

And so I did.  I found a cheerful and pleasant chap, tucked away in what amounted to a man cave, if the man in question happened to be a locksmith. He had a couple of devices, a little worktable and drawers--lots of drawers for what I took for inventory.  The deal took us about 20 seconds.

This is your shop?  I asked, artlessly.  Yep, all I need.  And I added: seems to be catching on. I guess computer repairs work this way, too.  Oh, you bet, he said.  I didn't think to ask whether he did computer repairs too.

But  that's the thing, isn't it?  You want a computer repair, you can go to Best Buy.  I guess you could even call Geek Squad although it doesn't appear that anybody does any more--their little vans seem to languish in the lot.   No: you Google for computer repairs, you come up with some phone numbers and many--most?--seem to be people with no identifiable place of business.  Call us, we'll come find you.

[Fn.: there seems to be at least one outfit that is trying to aggregate this business nationwide, suavely inserting itself (for a little pourboire) between the repair guy and the customer. The Open Table of computer repair.]

I got to speculating over how many businesses can run this way.  Mr. B's favorite shoe repair guy?  Maybe, but he seems to have a bit too much inventory--also biggish machines.  Transmission replacement?  No, I don't think the neighbors would stand still for that one.   Oil change?  I'm thinking, I'm thinking.  And I'm remembering Woody Allen's definition of a "luftmensch"--a guy who has his office in his socks. It used to be a slur but now it's a business model.

The other--this one I got here--roofing.  You need a new roof, used to be you'd call the roofer and he'd come out and price the job.  Every roof is different so he couldn't quote you a standard price which means that some guy had to climb a ladder and take some measurements.

These days, what?  Aw, you're way ahead of me.  You Google it and appraise the rooftop from the comfort of your office, maybe inside your panel truck.  

But that's not all.  Now you can see every other roof in he neighborhood. And now we're thinking' "economies of scale."  You're going to be out there anyway--why not knock on a few doors and offer them a bargain?

New world. New ways of doing business.   The Amazon of roof repair.  Somebody's going to do it. No, wait, probably somebody has already done it.

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