by Mike Marchev
Short Version: Be very careful where you choose to cut costs. Your customers are paying close attention, and some things (like toilet paper) need to work as designed.
Expanded Version: You are probably conscientiously examining your costs as you approach another new year. 2018 is looming large and once again it is imperative that you get a handle on the cost of you doing business.
It is important to remember that you cannot control future sales, but you can control the money you choose to spend. In an attempt to deliver today’s message with a little humor, I would like to share a real situation I was once privy to. I think you can relate. It may even remind you of a Seinfeld episode.
You enter a rest room in the public library only to spot a grown man (me) down on his knees twisting and turning his 68 year-old body trying to get a shiny new roll of toilet paper to cooperate in stall #2.
I first tried spinning the roll one way in an attempt to “find” the starting position. This was followed by spinning the roll in the opposite direction a couple of hundred times trying to solve the puzzle from a slightly different angle with a high spin ratio thinking a little centrifugal force might pay some dividends. No soap! No end in sight. No toilet paper.
I would be less-than-honest if I did not mention that while this futile exercise was unfolding in the men’s room at the Hillsborough Public Library, one could detect the sound of mild profanity coming from the direction of the restrooms while one unsuspecting book worm mindlessly perused the stacks up on level two.
Next came the old “fingernail gouge trick” accompanied with a few bangs on the silver housing that was designed to protect the “paper” from falling bricks. In addition to making a mess, the fingernail gouge technique usually destroys the symmetry of the paper product itself and does, in fact, produce a few useful bits.
I am absolutely certain that this scene is being played out in every public library, gas station and Denny’s Restaurant from coast to coast and in every other place where a little “cost-reduction” has become the mantra of the month. We all know and appreciate the need for scrutinizing budgets in 2018 coupled with the importance of shaving costs. This is admirable. This is necessary. This is cool.
I am certain that some fast-track genius from TP Corporate Headquarters surmised that cheap, flimsy, single ply…tightly wound…and glued at the seams with Gorilla Glue would deliver the stockholders the most bang from their buck while presumably getting the job done. (Did you know that a single drop of that glue can actually lift a bowling ball thirty feet off the ground in the middle of the night?)
Back to stall #2. A little in-the-field research might have resulted in a different option.
The message I am sharing with you today should be clear. The “I-have-a-better-idea” approach to staying in business can easily become the client’s nightmare, and cost you more than you realize. Budget or no budget. Cost cutting effort or not. Maybe finding a new profitable client would make more sense. Just a thought.
The product of “sound business cost-cutting principles” has brought us less ice cream in the box, less soup in the can, less spaghetti in the tube…and more glued shut, thin as air, I-challenge-you-to-get-me-started, toilet paper.
This brainchild creates havoc for people who have better things to do than to spend quality library time digging their fingernails into rolls of paper in search of a “starting position.” While I think of it, the same phenomenon occurs yearly with Scotch Tape being the culprit and the focal point of numerous holiday profanities. (If it happens to be a roll of “old” Scotch Tape, you can FUHGEDABOUDIT!)
Okay! You’ve got the picture. Let’s review.
Lesson #1: Slice and dice your budgets as you deem appropriate in the coming year. But please do not skimp on the important stuff. Like marketing. Like employee development and motivation. Like customer service. Like toilet paper.
Lesson #2: People will continue to notice the small stuff and hold you accountable in 2018 and beyond. Don’t waste people’s time making their lives uncomfortable searching for the seams. Where quality counts…don’t skimp. (Like in your people, service, marketing or sense of humor.)
Lesson #3: Spend more time at your library…but you might want to go before you go.
Bonus Point: This will prove to be an interesting reminder to you. Starting today, you will never again enter a public restroom without thinking of Mike Marchev. This image will stay with you for the next 60 years at the very least. This is how imagery works. Couple your product or service to a little imagery and it too will stay top of mind with your prospects and clients. (Don’t use toilet paper. That one has already been taken.)
2018 is almost here. Chances are this could be another year filled with challenges and confusing decisions by people in high places. Let’s not add to the pain by making our businesses more difficult than they have to be. Don’t abuse your customers.
Cut where you must. Be frugal if you can. But don’t skimp on the important things.