All my stock orders came in at the same time this month, so in the next 4 days we’ll be receiving shipments of all our sizes of oxygen absorbers: 100cc, 300cc (yay!!!), 2000cc, as well as the larger Mylar bags. It’s seemed like forever since we had 300cc’s in stock, but in reality its only been about a month. Since January, we’ve doubled our order sizes (and frequency) yet again and we’re again doing an ok job of managing our inventory; I’m not really a doom-and-gloomer, but people are worried and its showing in our volumes. And that’s all kinds of people; we get a ton of orders from places as remote as Alaska, Puerto Rico, and just recently, a rash of orders from New York City. White color, blue color, working poor and upper middle class. I’m definitely a believer in the ‘wisdom of the masses’, so my wife and I, as mentioned in our previous post, are putting some more resources into getting our house in order.
For the totally bored, we’ve hired a new local logistics company to handle our warehousing. As we first started to grow our business, I ‘luckily’ had a business friend I had worked with for years at my previous job who let me use his warehousing facilities to handle our first pallet-sized shipments. The reason is that it costs on average $150 to get a lift-gate truck to drop off pallets in places without a dock. I had a couple dropped off at our home office that way early on, and it was incredibly cost-prohibitive. As the business has grown to stand on its own, I felt it was time to move out and stop taking advantage of the relationship. My friend is happy we are successful, and though I’ve offered to pay for the services given on multiple occasions, he has consistently refused. So now, I’ll take him out to lunch and we’ll talk about old times and new business opportunities.
This leads me to a post I always planned to do on Advice and Beans, but which I never got to: the power of your word and the magic of networking. At my former job, there are dozens of buyers that beat down their vendors and suppliers regularly, and who focus on nothing but price. What they don’t realize is that focusing on price only negates the power of relationship-building. For many years, I managed a half-dozen suppliers where our company and theirs were joined at the hip, and real partnerships. Sure, I wanted a good price on the services I purchased (print, office supplies and fulfillment services mostly), but I also wanted our partners to be successful and make a decent profit, for a lot of reasons. For one, partners that don’t think you are taking advantage of them will go out of their way to help you out of tough spots, will provide what you need on-time and usually faster than they will other companies that don’t treat them with a high level of respect.
What does this have to do with anything? Well, treating this one supplier with respect led him to, with no prompting, offer his services for the small business I was starting up. And his services gave me the ability to cash-flow my way to much larger orders, and in turn, more business. So the actions I took over the course of many years led to a result no one could have predicted. This tells me that the golden rule works: treat folks like you want be treated. Sure, not every relationship is going to lead to a ‘payoff’, but that should never be the intent anyway. But if you treat every relationship you have like it is precious, likely when you need something, someone will be there to help. If instead you beat up the folks who handle your furnace, your car, your insurance…are they really going to go out of their way to help you when you are really in a bind? If instead you are long on patience, pay your bill quickly, and forgive mistakes, you will often have people who will put you at the top of their list in the event of a real emergency.
If the last year has taught me anything, it is that hard work, belief in a higher power, the willingness to take a risk and an overwhelming desire to treat people right are often the only things one needs to get ‘lucky breaks’. The next time you find yourself complaining that someone else got some benefit because ‘they were in the right place at the right time’ or ‘got lucky’, or any other such statement, should realize that they likely received the benefit due to their actions over a long period of time.