After all the commotion about a possible flaw in certain hand-helds, I wondered what went wrong and how Wouxun could do better in the future. I came up with a few thoughts (which aren’t necessarily feasible, please leave your comments).
Good things about Wouxun
- What Wouxun really wants, no doubt about that, is to become a big player. Their current range of ham radios and plans for future models are a good indication. Competition = good.
- The quality of their hand-helds is on par with the big four. Mobile radios are getting there.
- Pricing is still competitive (but only just.)
Bad things about Wouxun
- Becoming a big player is a two-edged sword. If you want to compete with Yaesu, Kenwood, Alinco and ICOM, you also need to look at their business models and how they treat dealers and customers. The big four all have professional distributions system of their own and don’t rely on, for example, a family business owner who wants to make a buck or two.
- Warranty. Even with a solid warranty in place, shipping costs prevent current dealers from sending back defective units. Again: set up subsidiary companies in the USA and Europe and let these handle it, or give heavy discounts to current dealers to compensate for losses when they place the next order.
- Hire seasoned hams to take a look at beta versions of new radios before shipping them out — if there are bugs or flaws, these nit pickers will surely find them. Don treat customers like they were guinea pigs.
- Online presence. Communicate with your customers on Google+, Twitter, ham radio forums or whatever other website. (*)
- Damage control. React swiftly if misinformation pops up on the Web. Bad news travels faster than good news.
- Current customers are more important than new ones. Investing time and money on attracting new customers is wasteful and one of the main reasons many companies fail. Little or no money is spent on engaging current customers, creating a high churn rate. Focus on the customers that matter – the customers you already have. If they’re happy, they will do the advertising for you – and for free.
(*) I intentionally left out Facebook: most if not all Google+ ham radio communities are public and can be read by anyone, while most on Facebook are not. Don’t force people to register somewhere just to be able to read something.
The news that Import Communications will stop selling / supporting Wouxun products didn’t come as a surprise — Ed has shown to been unhappy on more than one occasion. He has no intention to stay diplomatic, as the image below clearly shows:
What did surprise me (of all people) is that Wouxun hand-helds appear to develop a problem regarding retaining memory contents. After some searching and reading I must conclude that the problem really exists.
ALL Wouxun dual band radios have an internal defect that the factory refuses to address. They know there is a problem, they know how to fix it, but they will blame the problem on everything in the world except what it really is. Without warning, any of their dual band models can “lose memory”. One day when the radio is turned on, it will revert to speaking Chinese and the display will show channel numbers instead of channel names. Often the programmed channels themselves will be gone. Reprogramming the radio may restore it for a short time but often it’s cured for only one off/on cycle.
I have both the KG-UVD1P and the KG-UVD6P in use, and so do numerous Dutch hams I know. Yes, some had to replace the PTT micro-switch after years of (ab)use, but that’s about it. I have not encountered ‘Alzheimer Wouxuns’ yet.
Ed will now strengthen his relation with Anytone. I hope that Anytone will live up to Ed’s expectations. This brand too started off earning a questionable reputation by introducing products too fast and having their customers sort out the bugs.
*Update* I just talked to Ruud PE1OPG, owner of Bamiporto.nl. While he sold at least 500 dual-band Wouxun models, he only ran into the problem once. Statistically that’s an irrelevant percentage of failures.
Had a nice QSO (MP3 here) yesterday on 70cm with Chris 2E0UKH, who was walking around at the east coast of England. A Wouxun KG-UVD1P in his hands, I believe, but from the looks of it the antenna is some after market model. (Just got word it’s a Nagoya 771)
Thanks to some nice band conditions (one week in a row now) he had no trouble hitting our local repeater PI2FLD. He pulled this off a few times more; the video below was made a few days ago when he used the Rotterdam repeater.
Ran into this message on the QRZ.COM forum:
“Just an update to let inform forum readers here that I have recently updated my English language manuals for these radios. The manuals are designed to teach you how to manually use your radio. They are available at my blog site here:
73’s Larry VE7EA”
Yesterday evening I read this short, yet interesting / puzzling post from Brick. It doesn’t require much fantasy to figure out which dealer we’re talking about, but I’m keeping my mouth shut. It made me wonder about a few things:
- Should you refuse to sell a radio just because of the company who made it, even if it would be the best ever? If the answer is yes, then (IMHO) customers come second, not first.
- Will all other Wouxun products disappear from the website too? If not, all of this looks a bit irrational to me.
- Is it all about the idea “Chinese Stuff Should Be Cheap”? If it comes to price, it doesn’t matter where the radio was designed and built. Value for money all is we should care about. Customers (especially those picky hams) are more than capable of determining if that’s the case or not.
Avoiding the ‘From Bad to Worse’ sign
When I still circled the globe 4-5 times a year, talking to companies anywhere in the world, I had to learn a few new things at first. Doing business with Asian companies required a totally different approach. There are local customs, there’s pride, there’s a “Failing is not an option” attitude. You need to be more patient, diplomatic, and never push people around by criticizing everything they do. It doesn’t matter if you’re right or not.
I always took the time to do research in advance, about the company and about the country. It proved to be the best move ever. If you don’t, things go from bad to worse. Once you start to dislike someone, everything they do begins to annoy you, and it works both ways. I always tried to avoid that. It wasn’t always easy, and when it comes to Wouxun I failed once too.
Let’s be realistic, the Chinese came a long way in a very short time. Maybe we’re just too impatient. If I look back in time and count the number of fixes implemented by Yaesu to improve their FT-101 / FT-901 series, Wouxun suddenly doesn’t look so bad.
All of this doesn’t mean I approve the way Wouxun worked and communicated towards dealers and customers. There’s a lot to be desired, no doubt about that. If they really want to compete, they need to get their act straight. If your behavior repels customers, your sales will suffer – one way or the other.
If Wouxun doesn’t, we just sell their company to the Ferengi. At least we will know exactly what to expect. 😉