Out of Our Control

After hearing recently how the U.S. Postal Service’s move to eliminate Saturday delivery could cripple NETFLIX’s business model, it struck me how so many times, things well out of our control dictate how our business will go – or not go.

NETFLIX has built a phenomenal business delivering our favorite DVDs to our mailbox. Six days out of seven, we can go to that box and find a little treasure stuffed into that brilliantly designed “two way” envelope. But this whole business model depended on one thing – dependable mail delivery service. It was already bad enough that you could not receive movies on Sundays. I also knew that if it was a holiday that federal employees took off, there would be no movies on those days either. Even so, I could live with this and if I was really organized (which I usually was not), I could coordinate my deliveries to work around those minor inconveniences.

Now, with the threat of no Saturday delivery looming, will that be the tipping point to force people like me to consider Red Box or to use NETFLIX’s download service? I don’t know. For whatever reason, I have resisted the NETFLIX download option. As for Red Box, we tend to order a lot of obscure back catalog kind of movies that Red Box would never carry. One of the great things about NETFLIX is that, like Amazon, it is the largest DVD warehouse one could imagine.

NETFLIX is by far not the only company whose business is affected by the actions of others. Any company that subcontracts out some or its entire product is subject to the same concerns.

In our business, our clients rely on outside companies to help make us look good. Everyone has horror stories on how everything went great on the project until the shipper delivered to the wrong company (or destroyed the package in transit).

One thing always seems to hold true. Murphy’s Law. If anything can go wrong, it will.

Think about your own company. How many outside companies do you rely on to create your final product? Think about an automobile manufacturer. Literally hundreds of suppliers make the parts to produce the final car. If just one of them does not deliver quality, we blame the automaker. Although Toyota is certainly not without fault in their recent problems, some of those problems resulted from the quality issues of trusted vendors. Is it still Toyota’s problem? Sure is.

But they were let down. Yet, when you start crying about the vendor’s mistakes, it sounds like you are making excuses.

We all ultimately must take full responsibility for our final product whether we manufacture 100% of it or none of it. To our customer, it’s all the same.

Still somehow, when we make the mistake ourselves, we feel more in control to right the ship. When one of our vendors makes the mistake, we have to still step up to the microphone and take the blame but we do not have the power to change the quality procedures ourselves to assure that the mistake will not happen again.

Everyone is human. Everyone makes mistakes. But if you find yourself too many times facing your customer and making amends for a problem that was not of your own doing, it may be time to change suppliers.


One comment on “Out of Our Control

  1. Embrace the Netflix download, Larry! You have nearly infinite movies right at your fingertips, and it's so easy to check out obscure films for 10 minutes before thumbs up or down. I got to the point where I was hardly keeping up with my mailed DVDs because I was downloading every night. Now, alas, here in Europe, where I live now, there is no Netflix. Can you imagine such a thing?!

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