Tue, Apr

Cliché, but kinda spot on

I was in conversation a few days ago with a chap that I’ve known for many years. We were talking about work and he said that he had recently changed his business strategy and was turning away orders from his largest customers (I don’t believe he was being fattist!) as profit margins were invisible, they took months to pay and always wanted the delivery within the hour. 

Although his turnover had shrunk, his stress levels had dropped enormously and he was now making more money whilst turning over less money.

And then he did it! He rattled off that age old cliche of “Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity” – a saying I first heard 20 years ago, but people still quote it like they’ve just invented it! There are plenty more out there that I hear on a regular basis, including: “Hitting the ground running”,”Thinking outside the box”, and "Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater”, all of which I do my best not to re-quote myself!

So, it was quite refreshing to hear a new turn of phrase whilst chatting to somebody about the print industry. We were discussing a mutual friend of ours who had a customer that ordered printed stage backdrops from him every month, the production of which he promptly farmed out to another company. In a flash of inspiration he purchased his own machine costing circa £150,000. He then rented a new building to house it, employed an operator and then spent some money on an automated hemming machine. Just to keep one customer happy!

Six months later he had put the machine up for sale and made the operator redundant as his investment quickly evaporated. That’s when I heard a really good saying to explain this flawed business decision: “If you want a pint of milk you don’t buy a cow, do you?” Probably a phrase coined by a farmer many years ago, it summed up a lot of the mistakes made in our industry each year. All too often we’re buying machines and technology that for most of the time will gather dust and just cost us money instead of using this great turn of phrase to pause and give thought to the decision first.

And it’s definitely a saying that I’m going to be turning into a cliche!

Comments please to industrymole@imagereportsmag.co.uk

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