What? Why? Customer pays our bills, customer is our everything… True, but…
I have my short story to tell you.
About eight months ago, one sunny, beautiful morning in May we received a phone call from one of our forwarders. “Where should we deliver the goods, your warehouse is burning?” It took a few minutes to find the manager of the logistic center where all our stock had been stored. “Yes, it’s true. Everything gone. Sorry” Within 20 minutes I was there, and the picture of the smoke going up to the sky, twisted metal and heat is still chasing me…
When such things happen, you really feel lost, angry, frustrated… Tools, abrasive, polishing compounds, tapes, advertising materials and even our stock of cast steel spray guns turned into ashes. However painful it is, you also must face the problem. It will not disappear, and you have to act. I built this company, the brand and the international customers network from scratch, and I wasn’t going to loose everything without fight.
First thing we did, was to inform all our customers in Greece and in more then 30 different countries about the situation. The answer was always the same. “We feel sorry, what a shame, we wish we could help you in any way…” But they couldn’t help, and I can bet, most of them contacted our competitors right away. No offense. I would do exactly the same, everyone must secure its own supply chain.
Second, we called our suppliers. And this is where the real difference was. Unlike customers, the vast majority of our suppliers offered real, specific and countable help, wether it was additional credit, extra products free of charge, fast priority dispatch or good and sober advice. I learnt that fire happens, and I also learnt that many companies went through it and managed to regain their market position.
I skip telling borring stories about all the paper work with fire deparment, lawyers and insurance companies. It was really hard, and, I am absolutely sure that I wouldn’t be able to make it through without the help from my suppliers. I really thank from the depth of my heart all of them!
So, please “Treat Your Suppliers Better then You Customers!”