Foodservice Equipment Reports

Don’t Fight The Horse

Ever wonder whether you’re throwing away more business than you’re attracting? No matter what business you’re in, customer service is a tricky thing. It sounds simple enough, but it isn’t. You have to do a lot of listening, which most people don’t like doing, and you have to keep evolving because your customers keep evolving.

“Never ignore what the culture wants,” trainer/consultant Ross Shafer told attendees at NAFEM’s Annual Meeting & Management Workshop this past weekend in San Antonio. Or, as he said his father put it, “Make sure you’re riding the horse in the direction it’s going.”

Pretty profound, really. Are you riding with the horse, or against it? Do you burn a lot of energy repeating things that used to work pretty well in a bygone era, but not so much anymore? Shafer told an interesting story about Kodak, a former giant that is now famous for fumbling away huge market power. Everyone has read a marketing book that cites Kodak as a good example of bad management for its failure to do this, failure to foresee that. But Shafer noted something that goes way beyond inertia and some bad decisions.

Not only did Kodak fail to transition out of the film business in a timely manner, but get this: Kodak invented the digital camera back in the 1970s. Got the patents, did the whole deal, and then put it on a shelf. The company was too hooked on its film business to market something that would threaten film sales.

Clearly, Kodak was facing backwards on that horse, and rode it that way for a long, long time. In fact, Kodak was so late actually entering the digital-camera market that it recently announced it’s getting back out of that business. The bankrupt company has been clubbed with its own stick.

Is your dealership struggling to preserve ways of business that the market doesn’t want anymore? Are you trying too hard to be a stronger version of a model that’s outlived its usefulness?

Ride the horse in the direction it’s going.



Chief Editor
bward@fermag.com