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Rocket Surgeons and Monkey Traps

There’s a few things I’ve learned about doing business. I’m no rocket surgeon so the things I will tell you were learned by doing it wrong enough times that there came the obvious truths.
First, profit is not a dirty word. It’s the very gravity that keeps the train on the tracks. Profits range from paltry to obscene. A steady balanced flow is the most controllable and predictable. It’s good to hit a home run once in a while, but choose a strong and steady pace over the constant pursuit of massive wins.
Profit from a single source is a dangerous thing to rely upon. That source can leverage your price, terms and conditions in a way that can be crippling. Keep your revenue coming in from different directions. The more incoming streams, the stronger the river.
Always cultivate new business. Old business dries up. But this is a tricky one. Ever hear of a monkey trap? To catch a monkey, one will hollow out a gourd with a hole in it just big enough for a monkey to get his hand in. This is nailed to a fallen tree or a stump and half filled with peanuts. The monkey will reach in for the peanuts and with a handful, can’t get his hand out. And he won’t let go of the peanuts. You can extrapolate this to the cultivation of business. I’ve learned that the correct answer is “yes’, but if you take on too much, nobody is satisfied.
Delegate. While you might get excellent quality results doing it yourself, you cannot do it all. Get people around you with good work ethic and high skill levels. People are good to cultivate, too if you can’t seem to find someone for a position that’s just right.
Now, this is a biggie………In order for any relationship to survive, business or personal, both parties must benefit. Make damn sure that your customer or client is not losing money dealing with you. That’s simply not sustainable. All things unsustainable have one thing in common. They end.
Any time someone gets something for nothing, someone, somewhere is getting nothing for something. It’s all too easy to fall into giving your buddies something in expectation that they will do the same sometime. Trust me, that’s a sure way for things to get weird. If you want to be the nice guy, give him a break on the price, or a very prompt delivery, or pay for the shipping. But charge him something and expect similar behavior from him.
Free at last, free at last? Not if you have a payment book. Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. When you have no rent or mortgage, the rules of engagement in the workplace and in business change.
I’m not saying to not use credit. Sure, if you can use someone else’s money to make a profit, do it in any quantity that you can pay off once a year. A zero credit balance once a year is one way to regulate the use of outside funding. Call it ‘Spring Cleaning’ or whatever…….. it feels good, too.
Beware the selfish interest. People around you, employees, clients, and customers…….all have their own agenda. In a perfect world these motives of others work well with yours and everybody laughs all the way to the bank. If you expect this all of the time, you landed on the wrong planet. In every group of humans, expect one in ten to be a jerk.
Before you condemn a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, if he is indeed a jerk, you are a mile away and you have his shoes.
Don’t deal with clerks. Why? Because in general they can’t make the decision you seek and will just be wasting your time.
Nothing works better in business than personal contacts. Have lunch with a client. But talk about something other than business. Go to his son’s Little League game. Share with him about your family too. When someone knows you on a personal level, a calm understanding of what to expect generally prevails. Make it a short path for him to pick up the phone and make a request.
The best price is not always the best deal. Never compete with price if you can avoid it. Compete with quality, promptness, reliability, and availability. Nobody wants a cheap brain surgeon. Maintain professional standards that set you apart from the unwashed masses.
Money is not the foremost employee motivator. Give a guy a raise and he will look at his check to make sure it’s there, and maybe take his wife out to celebrate. Next week he will check to see it’s there. By the third week, the raise is forgotten. Better that you provide a good working environment and tasks that give him personal affirmation. Make sure he is learning something along the way so he feels an improvement in himself. Pavlov explored the concept of random reinforcement and how that affects human behavior. This can be used with employees by surprising them with a bonus from time to time.
Bribes work far better than threats. But they work better than simple requests, too. I have found that a can of exquisite Virginia peanuts will open many a door. Get your truck loaded first, get a prompt delivery of goods or services………..any time a little more stimulus is required, a simple gift can make all the difference.
Steal with your ears, (the fixed and unmovable holes in your head). That movable hole in front can prevent the others from working. Spend time with folks that know more than you and LISTEN.
I’m going out there again today and learn some more.

Ryland
 

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Something I used to tell new hires and transfers: "My job as your supervisor has two parts. The first is to see to it that you have the training, time and tools to do the job you were hired for. Second, I am a **** strainer. I keep management from finding out all the stupid little things - and some of the large ones - that you will do in the course of your career here as long as those things aren't detrimental to our mission or terribly expensive to fix. My job is also to keep you from finding out about all the silly directives management will rain down upon us that serve only to justify the salary of someone's brother in law."

Been retired five years now and I still get calls from officers who just want to gab with "the skipper" for a bit and say they really liked working with me. That is a great reward.

"In every group of humans, expect one in ten to be a jerk." Wow, Ryland, you must have had a better class of "clients" than I did. :) Other than that one small quibble, everything you said rings true.
 

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Shhhh, quiet please.

I'm listening more than talking.....learn more that way. My only contribution is please and thank you also work wonders.
 

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A wise client once told me....You can sheer a sheep many times, but you can only skin him once! Ie, I always leave a little money on the table at a deal, and deliver more and better than the customer expected. That way I don't have to have a salesman making calls on customers all the time...they call me.

Steve
 

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A wise client once told me....You can sheer a sheep many times, but you can only skin him once! Ie, I always leave a little money on the table at a deal, and deliver more and better than the customer expected. That way I don't have to have a salesman making calls on customers all the time...they call me.

Steve
+1 on what Steve says, my philosophy exactly!
 

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Wise words. Wish I had read them 40 years ago.

I especially liked the comment about each party needing to make a profit. I had several vendors who had a hard time understanding why on occasion I would offer them more for an item than they were asking.

Also great comment to pay off your line of credit once a year. My banker always gave me whatever I asked for because I kept my balance in check and always, without fail, zeroed my LOC at least once a year and kept it there for at least 30 days.

Great information. Thanks.
 
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Wise words. Wish I had read them 40 years ago.

I especially liked the comment about each party needing to make a profit. I had several vendors who had a hard time understanding why on occasion I would offer them more for an item than they were asking.
At the end of the day, you need your jobs to work and you need them to succeed. People that go around thinking a piece of paper (contract) makes their books are fooling themselves and don't last long unless they have an army of lawyers and a lot of insurance. We have a friend of mine here that knows somebody that learned this the hard way, even though I tried to save him a few times when I saw it coming.

There's too much money out there, especially for a small operation, to make enemies. Just make a few friends and make a lot of money.
 

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A wise client once told me....You can sheer a sheep many times, but you can only skin him once! Ie, I always leave a little money on the table at a deal, and deliver more and better than the customer expected. That way I don't have to have a salesman making calls on customers all the time...they call me.

Steve
Why is this lost on so many people? Long term, mutually beneficial relationships are the key to long term success. Deming was trumpeting this in the 40's, and it was an old concept then. Too bad only the Japanese were listening. My brother has bragged to me after cutting a deal on a car, "I raped him, his a$$ is still bleeding." That's yet another guy he can never do business with again. Meanwhile I get cars for dealer cost (Edmond's) plus a small doc charge, factory parts from the dealer parts counter for Autozone prices, and the little stuff fixed for free in the service department drive through. I could save a little money at a private shop on a major job. Problem is, the last couple times I used one, I had to crawl under the thing and fix their work. Long term, mutually beneficial relationships. MSG
 
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