My daughter likes Converse, and she likes them in any shade of black. I don’t judge. I kinda like ‘em, too. But, she likes them so much, she doesn’t just wear them for fashion, she wears them during P.E. and soccer practice. It doesn’t stop her. She is one of the fastest girls on her soccer team running her mile times at school in…Cons. But, her favorite shoes did stop her from reaching her goals.
She’s the third fastest in her class, but can’t beat two boys, and she’s almost faster than I am. I took her to the store and pointed to running shoes. She laughed. I found some black ones. She laughed again. I bought them for her anyway. She wore them during her next mile test and shaved 45 seconds from her mile time, making her much faster than I.
This isn’t a “father knows best” story…even though I should jump at it because my daughter tells me there aren’t many of them. This is a “but what if it could help me improve” story.
I see this frequently in business. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it, right? Yeah, that’s what yesterday said. But we’re in today, barreling toward tomorrow.
I was at a Cisco reseller the other day, sitting in the president’s office. He had asked me in to talk about some of the services he had heard we’ve been providing resellers. We talked about a few, but then I asked him if he had thought about virtual inventory—placing the Cisco product order through Comstor, but we’d hold it in our warehouse until the end user needed it. I continued, explaining that this would help Cisco get the order placed timelier, accelerating their sales cycle. Ultimately, adopting this method would allow for those benefits without challenging cash flows, keeping the product in our warehouse waiting for invoicing.
He politely said that he didn’t think he’d need to leverage that service. I looked around…then leaned back in my chair facing his desk, putting my arm up…on the stack of four boxes of Cisco gear and asked him, “Are you sure you don’t need a better place to store some Cisco gear some times?”
He looked around and said, “I know what you’re saying, but this is stuff I might need, so it’s good to have it on hand.” Fair. But he had paid for all this. We discussed how the current way was probably good for him…better than most ways. But, “Think about the cash flow improvement,” I said.
What if he could summon this gear—for which he was not yet receiving payment—in a day’s notice without having already paid for it?
That would be like…shaving 45 seconds off a sub-eight minute mile. And, it would certainly be a great deal like saving money, improving cash flows and mitigating risk.
I departed as he smiled and said he was going to run some numbers and get back to me. I received the request to meet again two days later. The positive is that one day soon perhaps he’ll be ordering similar gear and virtually warehousing it in our logistics center, improving his cash flows and becoming more nimble to market.
The negative…?…I may no longer have an arm rest in his office. And, my daughter runs a much faster mile than I can -for now.
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