How to improve the coops4you.com portable coops?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by greginshasta, Aug 27, 2007.

  1. greginshasta

    greginshasta Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi everyone – I’m posting this with the knowledge of Nifty-Chicken, as I felt it appropriate to check in with him prior to doing so.

    I have a 4’ x 6’ x 2’ tractor from www.coops4you.com. I have been talking to Greg and Cheryl from that company and they are trying to increase sales of their coops. We were discussing competing products and what changes (if any) might make their product more compelling to chicken lovers. They are seeking community input as to what you would like to see in terms of a portable coop, and what features of their product are desirable or otherwise. I suggested that they make this posting themselves, but am proceeding to do it myself on their behalf. I have the unit in the image below, equipped with the wheel option. And that would be Daisy, our ever-trusty chicken guard. She spends most of the day supervising the chicks and making certain they behave and don't get out of control. (She even went to the neighbor's door when one of her chickens had escaped, and got the neighbor to follow her to the runaway. Good Daisy!)

    [​IMG]


    As opposed to the photo on the home page of the site, the wheel option now includes a cross bar that connects horizontally between the handles on each side. Additional photos are at http://www.coops4you.com/photos.html (The home page photo needs to be replaced with an image that accurately reflects the current product assembly.)

    They have had their web site up for a while, and a few folks here on BYC have considered purchasing them. One BYC member who was looking for a tractor considered the coops4you product, and ended up purchasing the Henspa, a unit with many more features at about 4 times the price. As I participate in the BYC forum, I do see a lot of people clearly motivated by the “cuteness factor” of various units, and I can’t agree more – cute works. But it also has to be functional. I’ve suggested to Greg and Cheryl that they need to consider esthetics in their product development and marketing. But I have insufficient experience with raising chickens to go much farther there. Thus this post… How would you like to see the product improved, and what would make you want to purchase it?

    From personal experience with the unit, I can say that moving the unit around with the “wheelbarrow style” handles and wheel is pretty easy, but I look at the wheel assembly on the Henspa and am curious about how far above the ground the wheel is raised by that cable mechanism. I’m thinking I would like to have just a touch more ground clearance when moving the tractor, but it’s not that critical – the unit can be easily moved by one person.

    Also, these units are shipped in unpainted form. Greg tells me that he has the ability to dip them in stain but that would raise the price and significantly impacts shipping time because they need to dry before being packed for shipping. If they are still wet at all, they stick together and need to be touched up after assembly. That problem is accentuated during winter when it takes longer for the stain to set. However, I received mine a month ago and still have not taken the time to paint it. When I do so, it will likely be in a color scheme to match our home.

    I do have to say, however, that assembly could not be easier. Each unit is built using jigs to control hole-placement so that everything aligns perfectly, and the whole thing connects with screws. Equipped with a cordless screw gun, this thing goes together in 10-20 minutes. It is light enough to easily move, but heavy enough that it's going to take something like a bear to attack it. Domestic pets, or any other small animals trying to attack the sides are not going to have any luck - the assembled coop is very rigid.

    I’m interested in your comments as to what you feel would be useful on the coops4you product, and what would trigger sales.

    And thanks to Nifty-Chicken for agreeing to this post. I appreciate it Rob.


    Disclaimer:
    When Sunny and I decided to get chickens, I posted to the local CraigsList seeking a coop. I received a response directing me to that web site and only later did I realize it was Cheryl referring me to her own web site. When I replied by e-mail to ask about the product, they discovered that I am a web developer, and asked if I would do some work for them in exchange for the coop. I accepted the offer and provided the web site updates they requested. With that said, I have no greater vested interest in their operation than I do with any client: I want all of my clients to be successful, but their success accrues to them, and not me, unless they happen to budget more work for their web site as a result. I hope everyone recognizes that I do not sit here in the forum and spam the posts with solicitations for the coops4you product. That would clearly be inappropriate and I won’t do it. In fact, this is the first (and probably only) thread where I might associate myself with the product. My involvement with coops4you came only after we decided to get chickens – my participation in this forum is that of a chicken enthusiast, not because I want to flog a product. And finally, given that there are such limited options in terms of US-made tractors, I think it would be great for the chicken enthusiast community as a whole if they were successful in refining their product to a point that it became popular and successful. Hope this helps clarify where I’m coming from on this.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2007
  2. rosyposyosy

    rosyposyosy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 11, 2007
    i would make it so the coop had a pitched roof with shingles, also, a larger run, that isnt covered.


    EDIT: actually i like this design - but i think i would make the coop smaller and the run larger
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2007
  3. User48

    User48 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi Greg,

    I was really drawn to their tractor initially, because I like the "tractor" concept, and my original plan was to have just a few chickens (my how quickly that changes). I think I may have seen your post, or another person's post, about travelling up their way & coming back with a new tractor in tow. To me, the beauty of their tractor is its simplicity - it is not a great work of beauty, true, but it appears to be solid, functional, easy to put together, and reasonably priced. I also like the fact that they use hardware cloth - all in all, it meets all of my needs. Finally, I liked the idea that expansion was possible down the road beause you could add onto it. I did email the owners with some questions about the coop - including questions about customizing it, and potentially buying the door separately for another project (that was back in my "I can't build anything on my own" phase), and didn't hear back. Not getting a prompt response, or any response at all, is obviously never particularly confidence building. When I later called, though, I had a nice, long chat with either the co-owner or the grandmother (she was babysitting, and I think she said she was grandma), and she spent a long time on the phone with me answering questions. Ultimately, we decided to revamp our garden shed to house our chickens so I shelved the tractor idea.

    This past weekend, though, I realized that I was definitely going to need more space, especially if I pick up more Silkies as is the plan, so I purchased the tall long condo. I purchased it with the predator kit, the tall door, & the wheelbarrow option. I've looked around a lot at other tractors, and nothing else felt "quite right' in the way that this design did. I do wish the web site had more inofrmation about the measurements of the add on runs & the dimensions in general - exactly how long is the run on each coop, and exactly how long is each yard extension. Even in the phone conversation I had, I felt I just had approximations & am still confused about it. I'd also like to see a picture of an example of how multiple runs can be combined to expand the original tractor - they mention this is an option, but they don't actually show it on their site, and I wish they would. There's a British guy on Ebay, for example, whose ads are really appealing because he includes numerous pictures in his auctions that demonstrate the various configurations available if one were to purchase different pieces of a coop design as add ons. Overall, a few more pictures would be helpful. I'd also appreciate the option of having it already painted - I think they'd find many customers would opt for that & be willing to pay more for it. Let's face it, the cuteness factor is the one downfall to this coop - maybe a cute window added on would be another way to dress it up a bit. Listing this as an option for additional price would still make it possible for someone on a strict budget to forego the window in favor of the budget.

    The model I purchased was the most expensive of the three options, and was definitely a splurge for me. It would've been very nice to get some sort of confirmation email from the owners letting me know my order had been received, and giving me an idea of when it would be shipped. I really appreciate that they are looking for ways to expand their business, because I really do hope that down the road I can expand the one tractor I purchased or even buy another, and so I hope they'll still be around to provide the potential expansion. I do wish that they'd take the opportunity to reach out a bit more - whether it be by answering emails or sending a "thank you for your order" type message after an order has been processed.

    Hopefully this feedback is helpful.

    Laura
     
  4. greginshasta

    greginshasta Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 26, 2007
    Mount Shasta, CA
    Laura and Rosy - thanks for both of your replies. They are both very helpful.

    Rosy - I have had much the same thoughts about the need for a peaked roof, and in discussing that with coops4you Greg, he assures me that rain runs off due to the design of the joints and the overhang of the lid. However, I'm going to be sharing all comments with them and it's interesting that we both had the same idea.

    Do you feel the peaked roof would improve functionality, or visual appeal? Could you expand on this please?

    Laura - I'm pleased to learn that you ordered a unit and hope you will report back on your experience with the product. I am very concerned that e-mail communications be prompt and informative. I have succeeded in my web business due to my commitment to quick responses, and know that any online merchant must feature such responsiveness in order to built customer confidence. I'll take that up with them.

    As for additional photos, text and measurements, that is most certainly something that can happen. I'll emphasize the need to work out a spec sheet with measurements and close-up images so that as many questions as possible are answered.

    BTW, "grandma" would have been Cheryl, the co-owner of the business. Her little towhead grandson is quite the handsome young man. Cheryl has very extensive experience raising chickens - apparently thousands of them. She and Greg and very sincere and likeable folks. Were it not for that, I'd not go out of my way to help them with this thread.

    Thanks again.
     
  5. User48

    User48 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I definitely agree with your "sincere and likeable" characterization of Cheryl, Greg. Once I reached her by phone, she was extremely helpful and fun to talk to. After I posted my response to your post, I thought that I should have also mentioned that it is possible, of course, that an email response was sent to my questions but just never received. I use Yahoo as my primary email addy, and sometimes stuff that shouldn't wind up in bulk mail winds up bulk mail. Bottom line is, I'm very much looking forward to receiving my coop!

    Laura
     
  6. hcammack

    hcammack Overrun With Chickens

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    I have a coop from this website an its great! I got more chickens then I thought I would so I cut a whole in the wire and installed my own door [​IMG] they did not have there own door design then but I just email them about getting one. I have the long condo design. I know this is an old post but my least favorite thing was the nest boxes so I scraped them and bought new ones. I may be purchasing the smaller model for a few ameraucana breeders in the future. I am not a builder and I feel that even with shipping and initial cost this product is great for the cost and it is very well built. I am also going to be working a bit on my own winterization kit because the plexiglass got really dirty and their was not was to move it quickly so that there was ventalation on nice winter days.

    Good Luck with your products hope I am not to late on this post,
    Henry
     
  7. dixygirl

    dixygirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is a very utilititarian product. I think it could be improved by being more creative or artistic with the shapes and finishes so it looked more interesting as well.

    PS Have you thought about using ABS plastic sheets instead of plywood.
    [​IMG]
    It is tough, lighter weight, comes in various colors and looks more interesting. Maybe it could also be curved like a half tube or something so it looks more interesting. Maybe you could have it molded like a pyramid for a roof or something.
    I believe the corners could be bonded with different solvents or you could use corner brackets and screws.
    If you talk to one of the plastic companies they may even suggest cheap ways of fabricating it for you.
    It comes in all kinds of interesting colors and finishes!
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    http://www.complast.com/ABS/index.htm

    Maybe learn how to powder coat the hardware wire in interesting matching colors.
    [​IMG]
    These things would catch people's eyes. It would be like putting makeup on your product to make it more attractive.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2008
  8. greginshasta

    greginshasta Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mount Shasta, CA
    This old thread was from last fall when we were new to chickens. I'm a web developer by trade, was trying to help these people (they live 90 minutes from here) bolster their sales, and thus my post. They decided to not invest in marketing efforts, and my tractor that I purchased from them is in storage until we get new chicks.

    In the mean time we built a chicken mansion and have not heard from Greg & Cheryl in a long time.
     
  9. hcammack

    hcammack Overrun With Chickens

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    I am not very good at building things [​IMG] I feel like this product is better than anything I have the experiance to build I do add things though such as new nest boxes from eggcartons.com and another roosting bar. I may be adding on to the coop soon and am in contact with greg about a possilble custom expansion or what product would work to expand my coop.
    [​IMG] I am never going to have a standing coop because I like the pastured system much better.

    Henry
     
  10. spottedtail

    spottedtail Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'd suggest a rubber membrane over the entire plywood roof/lid. Especially if it's flat like that.
    Two pieces, overlapping at the hinge area would prevent leaks there.

    This adds some additional upfront cost of course.
    But possibly worth it if you consider the following.........
    - Regular plywood could then be used instead of the more expensive treated stuff.
    - The longevity of a rubber covered roof is much increased over any treated/painted wood roof.
    - Plus, there's no need for the extra construction hassle of a sloped or peaked roof to dispense the water quicker.
    I've had this rubber membrane on my growing pen for 3 years now with no problems. It beats either shingles or metal.

    I like the simple non-fancy look of your tractor.

    spot
     

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