New CPR Playfield Preorder System Launched Today
November 24, 2014
For nearly 10 years, we ran a simple "stick your name in the hat" inbox system at our web site to count heads and produce playfields for those groups, at those numbers. It worked like a charm with very few headaches for that decade. What could be easier. Put up a playfield inbox, let it collect emails for 1-3 years, then when it comes production time, peek inside and count how many were wanted. Say 100 people requested 106 playfields in total. Great. Make 120 in case of spoilage. Great. Those 100 people were contacted for payment at shipping time, and for 9 of those 10 years, about 95 of 100 would come through and buy. It worked that well. Pretty reliable and easy-going system. Didn't need deposits. Didn't need anything except their request.
But unfortunately, within 2014, something changed.
For three straight playfield runs in a row now (our last 3 runs) we have experienced only around a 60%-70% sell-through. That means - yes - only about 60-70 of 100 guys are actually buying when it comes shipping time. Leaving a significant piling-up of leftover playfields that are simply sitting here. Representing a lot of time & resources spent that we truly thought were going to end users.
Predicting forward the next 2-4 months, this will likely be the same situation on the fourth and fifth (and likely sixth) run since this trend started, but we will soon see. The old system was pretty loosey goosey, but worked so well it didn't matter. We never took deposits, never wanted to enforce anything, and never batted an eye at the occasional forfeit. After 10 years, and for some unknown reason, the loosey goosey system has turned around and suddenly bitten us in the butt... which leads me to the meat of this announcement:
We must (and have) replaced the old legacy preorder/request process with one involving a type of harder commitment. Where an expectation is set up front. We need to get to a point where if we see 75 preorders for a playfield, we can be accurately sure 75 will sell. Thus we make ~90. It can no longer be we make the 90, and only 40 of the 75 people buy. It just can't anymore.
So starting now, you'll see our former Request Page is back to being called the Preorder Page, and we now are going to make the preorders an actual promise. Still no deposits. We don't want/need your money. We only need your word. Unlike before - there was zero commitment before. Now there is.
If we're not taking a deposit, how is it enforced? Well, we still have faith in the hobby. With this very basic change, we think "your word is your bond" will deflect 98% of the "fluff" requests, or wavering requests, or semi-serious requests, or dreamer requests. Because if somebody bails when it comes shipping time, you basically lose the welcome to participate in the "word-based" process ever again - those folks will have to switch to a secondary deposit-based system to lock in a reservation.
We feel guys will want to play ball and stay on the easy path. CPR is going to be around for a long time. Nobody wants to have to deal with a second-tier deposit-based preorder system. But it's there, and it's the fallback, as clunky as non-refundable deposit systems are. We even allow for exceptions in dire circumstances (detailed at the site) just in case. But we don't think many will end up having a problem under the new system. It's not difficult. If you want it, sign up, and come through. Easy. It should really tighten up our counts, and we won't end up making 50-60 playfields that won't have homes. Those could be 50-60 playfields into the NEXT run! So we're not wasting our CNC time, our wood, our inserts, press time, clearcoating, and on and on...
Complete details at the site.
Some new preorder titles have been launched, as you'll see.
FYI, Since we are now on an 18-month production clock (maximum) under the new system, we can't put ALL the playfields in the pipe up there at once. So a few less-active inboxes have gone offline for the moment, so don't fret. Once some playfields at the top of the queue are knocked off in the next few months, those others will jump back on at the bottom, with their new start dates, and their 18-month-max clock can start ticking too. Doesn't mean every playfield is going to be 18 months away... we just don't want to bite off more than we can chew.
Most importantly - ALL EMAILS HAVE BEEN KEPT from the old inboxes, grandfathered under the old system. But remember, we'll be weighing those groups with about 60-70% count accuracy now, so there IS a chance there won't be enough playfields (depending on how those groups come through in the future)... if suddenly a group bounces back to 90%+ buying for some reason... there will be a quantity shock. Because for the old groups, we're simply not making 100 boards for 100 people anymore. We simply can't. So.... our advice is: if you KNOW you're still onboard - submit a new signup email under the new system, make that promise, and guarantee yourself a playfield. Post Nov 24th, we count all preorders as a guaranteed sold playfield to be made. Pre Nov 24th preorders are considered "loosey goosey". Make sense?
This was lengthy, and I apologize. Just want it to be clear, and this thread can stand as a totem which can be linked back to in any future discussions, if necessary. To mark this date and change.
Classic Playfield Reproductions