Thursday, February 16, 2006

Renewals & Guilt by Association?

We are coming up on the magazine's first anniversary so I have my first encounter with doing renewals. I'm afraid I sent the March/April (charter) subscriber notices out a bit late - but now I've got the process scheduled for the rest of the year, so I think I'm set on that. Once the subscriptions reach a certain figure - maybe 5,000 - I will turn the process over to a fulfillment company. I'm pretty reluctant to do that now as even with my loaded schedule I'm able to turn around almost all orders within a week and I know that these firms have more of a 4-6 week schedule. Further, adding more steps in the process and letting the list and such out of my control also leaves it open to errors and missing info, which is antithetical to my quality management aspirations. Well, I suppose dealing with that will be a "good" challenge to have. I guess it is true that success just brings a different class of problems.

On another issue - magazines that fold and don't return subscribers money or fulfill their subscription in some way. Three times just this week I've been slapped by this - as folks who expressed interest in the magazine, said they will not subscribe due to being burned by another regional gardening publication. I know exactly what publication they are referring to and it just galls me. Not only did they not fulfill their subs or return their funds, but they left a lot of people who work with them without their final payments. Shockingly this company is still in business - but not in our market.

IF we ever folded (NO plans for this), our first priority would be to return unused portion of our subs - even if it meant digging heavily into my own pocket. It is just the right thing to do. Period. But how do I deal now with the sour taste people have been left with by this other, unrelated publication? My reply is usually a "we are not them" - but really anything I say would just sound defensive and feeble. I can't blame folks for not wanting to get burned twice. On the other hand, I'd like to be treated as I treat others -- taking them as individuals and at face-value. We'd like not to be smeared with the same brush as the worst in our industry.

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