When I use the term “them,” I am speaking of your customer. The good thing for all of us in the business world is that what comes around, goes around. By that I mean, in our daily business we probably supply someone with a good or service, but during afterhours, we are all customers. That’s a good thing because it allows us to understand how customers feel when put in different situations.
This makes us better businesspeople if we learn from our experiences. Recently, I was put in a situation that is a great lesson for all of us. I want to stress right up front that this company and product is not automotive. It is used in my hobby area of interest and no, they do not make, market or sell into the automotive space. I needed a particular product and had been searching for some time for a product that would do a very specific job under very specific circumstances. I tried several that I thought would work even though the product did not claim to work in this situation. Turns out the manufacturers of those products know more about their products than I did.
No surprise! I finally sought out advice from a professional I do business with and they happened to know the product I needed. Awesome! I immediately ordered this product from a very legitimate dealer in the industry and paid full retail. By the way, I was glad to do it. Keep in mind, this was a well-known manufacturer in the space providing what appeared to be an established product. It was bought through an established distribution network and sold by a trusted dealer.
I received the product in August 2014 but did not actually use the product until spring 2015. Within a day of using the product, I knew I had a problem. The product never cured. I was left with a sticky mess that leaves, bugs and dirt were immediately attracted to and trapped in. I was aggravated, but since I had followed directions, I was confident this well-known manufacturer would make it right.
I started the process of contacting them and looking for advice. I don’t want to go into the details of that process, but it took more than two weeks to talk to a real person. I also won’t bore you with the details of how unprofessional the individual was. I stuck with it because I needed help. It was painful. The end result was, he told me I had improperly prepared the surface by not using virgin or laboratory grade acetone. Say what? Before we get too caught up in that, he told me that the product I had bought was four years old. He decoded the build data from the tube of product and told me it was four years old and would be out of any warranty the manufacturer had in place. He did tell me that I could use the regular acetone I had to clean the mess up.
So what don’t I want you to do to your customers? Do not let inefficiencies or sales programs get in the way of your customer being able to use fresh product. In this case, I was victim of either an overzealous sales program four years ago or an inefficient stock rotation regimen. Either way, I was in the middle. Wherever you are in the chain, be sure your customer is not caught with the mess. The good news is, my non-virgin acetone is working fine and from current stock.