Recently, we conducted another session of Shared Knowledge University (SKU), our two day distributor training program. On the first day, we started the meeting by discussing “Shared Success,” “Shared Responsibility,” and “Shared Knowledge.”
These philosophies serve as the foundation for our business, not only with distributors, but also with Classic employees and our suppliers. Shared Success and Shared Knowledge depend on honesty, trust, and respect. That starts with us. We strive to work within these guidelines, but it would be naive to assume that every distributor views our business relationship as a partnership. To many we are simply a supplier . . . and we understand and respect that. We have to do our part, but there is “Shared Responsibility.” All parties have to be engaged and contribute their fair share 0n every order, quote, and design.
In an ideal world, your order would be a loaf of bread. Fresh and ready to use. We would use that bread to make you a sandwich, french toast, or bread pudding. We wouldn’t ask you to supply the milk, sugar, eggs, lunch meat, or condiments. Nor would you care. You would trust us to handle the details, to make what you ordered, and to serve it prepared and delicious. In real life that rarely happens on display orders. Occasionally on a table top or a counter request, but not very often.
Most times, we receive 1/2 to 3/4’s of a loaf of bread, a few chunks, and some bread crumbs. The bread crumbs come in dribs and drabs. It’s manageable. We can still make you a sandwich, french toast, or bread pudding. It’s not ideal, but that’s OK. We understand. Your client may be giving you bread crumbs and chunks, and you pass them along when you get them.
Gathering Bread Crumbs
Then there are the bread crumb orders. We get a few chunks of bread and a trail of bread crumbs. Most times, those are manageable too, if the bread crumbs come early. However, to prepare your order, we have to perform some culinary magic. We have to form the crumbs into a recognizable loaf. This takes time and effort. We do our best not to miss any crumbs. We really do. We work hard to gather every one . . . but bread crumbs are easy to overlook and even harder to reassemble into something appetizing and edible. Those orders follow the 80/20 rule. They consume 80% of our time and typically represent about 20% of our sales volume.
You get chunks and bread crumbs from your customers. Ideally, you want them to hand you a loaf of bread just out of the oven, not stale and moldy. But they don’t. We understand that. We really do. And frankly, we’re guilty as well. On occasion, you get incomplete orders from us.
Fortunately and unfortunately, we live in a world of instant communication. Clients give you information. You want it off your desk so you pass it along. Here’s a chunk, here’s a crumb, here’s the hint of more bread to come.
Don’t misunderstand us. We want your orders. Every single one. If we were less about Shared Success, we’d dictate how you submit orders and reject them if they didn’t follow a specific format (like many of our competitors). Instead, we take a different path. We’ll take them in whatever format makes sense to you. All we ask is that you to take those bread crumbs, gather them over a day or two if possible, and form them to chunks. Chunks are easier to handle and rarely get lost.
Am I sounding a bit parental? Perhaps. But my intent is more informational than to lecture. To us, it’s all about Shared Responsibility and Shared Success. We need to work together. It’s that simple.
Go get that loaf of bread. We prefer whole wheat, but we’ll settle for rye or pumpernickel. We even learned to love Wonder Bread during the recession. 😉
Here’s to a successful Fall and Winter!
Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions and engineered aluminum extrusions (ClassicMODUL). Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100.