Business perfection. The last man standing

Perfection or madness, you choose.
Many years ago I was a senior manager in a blue chip Company, and the mantra was to be the least cost supplier. Now this is good business practice, as inventory, or too much to be precise, can murder cash flow. Factories are expensive. Distribution is both expensive and subject to many uncontrollable forces, not least of which is fuel and duty. Office space costs, and rates just keep rising. Energy bills are always on an upward spriral. People are expensive.
Simple. Farm the lot out.
Structure becomes you and your brand.
If you can guarantee control of the brand, and ensure it grows profitably for you, bingo you have perfection.
But, and here is the thing, what if one part of your chain fails?
Losing control of the route to market, or a local identity, tells the public you are not interested in them, as you are not the one they relate to. Sure it is ultimately your brand, but if the distributor wants to switch allegiance, he has your base. He is the one they relate to.
Abdication of your brand is both dangerous and can lead to extinction.
It is the man in the street you need. Never forget you dot exist unless someone buys your product or service.
Look at your business. Do you create for yourself or for the customer. Be honest. I said be honest. Do you create what suits you, ultimately, or the other way round. What they need and fulfil that need?
I remember we discussed minimum orders, that suited us, allowed us to reduce fleets, warehouses, amount of deliveries, stock holdings etc. if customer could not meet our minimum they could by our brand via subsidiary. Arogance! Loyalty played no part, on both sides of the debate.
Your base dropped over night, never to return. When, eventually, the penny dropped it cost a fortune to put a huge sales force together to relaunch.

What does this mean to you?
Do you keep in touch, personally, with your clients? Are you a helicopter pilot, and leave your ground crew to interface with your clients?
Do you send emails, or make a phone call, get out their and meet clients occasionally?
Do you meet your workforce daily? Do you get on the factory floor daily! Do your staff “know you” relate to you and the brand?
Do you sit in your office, behind your counter etc.
In a National Company I ran, I made it policy to be out more than you were in. You do not make money, sat behind a desk. Mobility is the way forward. Modern technology allows you to keep in touch, so get out their.
Cut costs, absolutely essential, but never lose personal interface, internal and external.
Something to think about.
As always,
Geoff Reeves
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