The Best Client Letter Ever. Mick Jagger To Andy Warhol.

lettermickjaggerI retype the letter sent by Mick Jagger to Andy Warhol, a leading figure of the pop art movement, when ordering artwork for a new Rolling Stones album. Custom Motorcycle Builders, wishing you that all your clients who order a custom bike talk to you in the same terms used by Mick Jagger. Clients, be our Mick Jagger, you will get a better bike. 

April 21st, 1969.
Andy Warhol, 33 Union Square NY, NY 1003

Dear Andy, I’m really pleased you can do the artwork for our new hits album. Here are 2 boxes of material which you can use, and the record. In my short sweet experience, the more complicated the format of the album, e.g. more complex than just pages or fold-out, the more fucked-up the reproduction and agonizing the delays. But having said that, I leave it in your capable hands to do whatever you want……..and please write back saying how much money you would like. Doubtless, a Mr. Al Steckler will contact you in New York with any further information…He will probably look nervous and say “Hurry Up”, but take little notice. Love, Mick Jagger.

Unfortunately I don’t own this historic letter (but own a Jagger signed picture). But to all those who intend to order a custom bike, follow my advice. Take the time to choose and know your Builder.  You hired the Builder to do what he or she does best. Pay him or her well, get the hell out of the way and don’t obsess. And be happy with what you get. Cyril.

Zipper's

22 Responses to “The Best Client Letter Ever. Mick Jagger To Andy Warhol.”


  1. 1 Steve Carr Oct 21st, 2009 at 6:56 am

    Perfection Cyril.

    Needed to be said, and you made the point as eloquently as it could have ever been done.

    Thank You once again.

    Steve Carr

  2. 2 MDK Oct 21st, 2009 at 7:10 am

    Who’s Mick X and Andy Warhol? Seriously though and as usual very much spot on as when you become a custom builder then you should have total control over the design, so let the professionals do their thing.

  3. 3 Brandon Oct 21st, 2009 at 7:20 am

    It’s the reason why I love so much to read your blog. Informative, entertaining with a few sprinkles of deep thoughts in your posts that everybody can understand. Love you man! .

  4. 4 ian Oct 21st, 2009 at 7:31 am

    …….in my short sweet experience, the more complicated the format of the album, e.g. more complex than just pages or fold-out, the more fucked-up the reproduction and agonizing the delays.

    Wasnt this album “Stcky Fingers” which had the working zipper on the cover?

    Nice one though.

  5. 5 Cyril Huze Oct 21st, 2009 at 7:44 am

    Ian. Not on this request. It was for the ” Through the Past, Darkly” album. But later Andy Warhol created for the Stones the famous “Sticky Fingers” artwork with the Zipper on the cover (released 1971).

  6. 6 Jeff Nicklus Oct 21st, 2009 at 9:27 am

    Cyril my friend,

    As bad as it hurts me to say this ….. I couldn’t have said it better myself! Way to hit the nail on the head!

    Over & Out,

    Jeff

  7. 7 Josh Oct 21st, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Excellent. All clients, please read and read again. Listen to Cyril.

  8. 8 Walt Lumpkin Oct 21st, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    If you can build it why do you need a builder?

    Give him/her a general direction and color then get the hell out of the way.

    I ride the hell out of them but I know I can’t build what some of you do so
    I follow my own advice. Gone!

  9. 9 Woody Oct 22nd, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Interesting how builders see things differently than others might. If I’m buying a custom bike over something in a showroom for a fourth the price, it probably means I have something specific in mind. If someone tell s me to drop off my wallet and go away until the bike is done, I might as well just buy one ready-made.
    Would you have an architect design a house for you with no input other than number of bathrooms and no approval of drawings before it was built? Customers aren’t an annoyance, they’re the reason you are in business in the first place.

  10. 10 Cyril Huze Oct 22nd, 2009 at 9:52 am

    Woody.Personally I ALWAYS submit drawings, sketches, paint job intended and estimates before starting anything. After signature of client on ALL sketches and estimates (with some reserve posts), I don’t see my clients more than 1 or 2 times before delivery (they are almost all out of my state or out of the country and they don’t ask). All updates on work in progress via emailed pictures every week. It works very well with intelligent clients.

  11. 11 Jeff Nicklus Oct 22nd, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Cyril,

    Well said again. I take the Builder Client relationship one step further though.

    Woody is wrong! Clients are an annoyance if you allow them to be! I could spend half of my time on the phone listening to “how are you doing on my build” or “ have you decided on a color yet” and never get anything done. So here is how I handle that: I allow the client a one time a month, 30 minute, telephone call with me. At that time I bring them up to speed, Also a couple of days prior to the scheduled telephone call I email updated pictures of the project to the client so we can talk about any changes or answer any questions all at one time. Other than that one phone call a month if the client feels the need for me to personally hold their hand I will always take the time to talk with them, however, I add an additional $5K to their tab for each hand holding session. I should also note that I include any necessity to respond to client emails in the One Call Per Month Limit. One or two $5K charges and it is amazing how the “all important” telephone questions can wait until the monthly call. I am a builder not a friggin psychologist!

    Now before you get off on the “I would never agree to that bullshit” tangent. Please note that currently I have 38 One-Off Motorcycles on Order all of which are in excess of $75. In fact as of a couple of weeks ago I stopped taking any new orders until mid next year. So being an A-Hole works for me and that is all that matters.

    Over & Out,

    Jeff

  12. 12 Sugar Bear Oct 22nd, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Hey Jeff,

    Did you leave off the “k” after the $75? If not, I’d like to order at least ten (10) ….. otherwise………… nevermind.

  13. 13 Jeff Nicklus Oct 22nd, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Hey Bear,

    Yes, I did leave the K off …. thanks for pointing that out.

    By the way … Happy Belated Birthday!

    Over & Out,

    Jeff

  14. 14 Woody Oct 22nd, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    Cyril & Jeff, I guess it’ll all work out then, as I can’t afford one of your bikes anyway. I’m glad it is working out so well for you folks.

    “Pay him or her well, get the hell out of the way and don’t obsess. And be happy with what you get.”
    Sorry, I wouldn’t take that from any business, as much as I respect you, Cyril.

  15. 15 Cyril Huze Oct 22nd, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    Woody. One day, during an interview, the question asked was. “Did you ever built a bike you are not so proud of”. My answer “I will never build a bad bike…because somebody could buy it”

  16. 16 David Moss Oct 22nd, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    Woody, I don’t think Cyril or Jeff disrespect their clients. I think that what they mean is that to give the best to a client they need to be respected by this same client as the he experts. Cyril, your answer is simply superb.

  17. 17 Steve Carr Oct 22nd, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    The best way to get the best from any builder is to get out of the way and let the builder give you the customer what he does best.

    Not everyone gets it. The customer that wants things done their way, but yet wants a bike built by their favorite builder, will never get what they really want, because the builder no longer has control over his own vision for the bike that he is being paid to build.

    Right or wrong…..thats the bottom line

    Steve Carr

  18. 18 Woody Oct 22nd, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    I see their points, especially the way Cyril restated it. In some ways though it’s sad. You need need some clients with so much bread that they’ll buy it whatever they end up with like some of the Brad Pitt comments in another thread. Almost disrespecting the builder to say yeah, whatever, I’ll pay ya and ride off-just build something.
    I’ve only built 3 bikes over the last 30+ years and know my limitations, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know what I want. Jeff, I’m glad it’s working for ya, but you really sound a lot like some Harley dealers not that many years ago. I remember looking at new Road Kings in ’96 and getting that kind of taste in my mouth. Ordered a Valkyrie instead and I’ve still got it. If a custom builder (not anyone here) wants to build anything they want I guess they should do just that and put them on a showroom floor.

  19. 19 Jeff Nicklus Oct 23rd, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Woody,

    I must agree with Cyril here ….. I likewise have never built a bike that I was not happy with in the end. Further, I have never built a bike that the customer was anything less than thrilled with which is exactly why I, and Cyril, have so many repeat customers.

    Further, I will say that I have never built a bike that when complete I didn’t say to myself … “I wish I had” …, “I should have”……. or “next time I will”……. I believe that the day that I am perfectly satisfied with a build and feel I couldn’t have done anything more, is the day I hang up my guns.

    I love and respect all of my clients and I feel that they reciprocate in kind. I try to build friendships as well as motorcycles and I like to believe I have been very successful in that respect. Building a one-off bike is a pain in the ass most times and if it were not for the relationships that are formed in the process am not sure the money would be worth the effort.

    Just my 2 cents worth.

    Over & Out,

    Jeff Nicklus

  20. 20 Woody Oct 23rd, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Cool, didn’t mean to imply otherwise. Just pointing out how things were coming across from what I was reading initially. This recent conversation probably would’ve been better over a beer (or bourbon) as I’m not too much of a wordsmith on a keyboard 🙂 Have a good one!

  21. 21 Joe Skonecki Oct 24th, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    A smart builder such as Cyril and Jeff will always have a come-back-again-price, because work like theirs is priceless. A smart buyer will please their builder and reap the priceless rewards!

  22. 22 Sugar Bear Oct 25th, 2009 at 12:33 am

    Thanks Jeff … it was a blast!!

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