Serving customers is a privilege that must be earned daily. This privilege is granted on the condition that you, the service provider, will always do your best. Always. In most cases, there are no guarantees or long-term commitments in business — you have to earn your business every day by doing your best. It’s a goal we’re constantly working toward at Rose City Label.
Take Adversity With Grace, See the Silver Lining
We recently had a very significant customer come to us seeking massive price reductions. They were part of a larger national company and there was pressure from above to cut costs. The entire organization put their label and packaging business out to open bid — everything was on the line. Relationships, service, history, special arrangements — none of that had a cell in the spreadsheet. It was all about the bottom line. We were initially concerned and even a bit offended, but as we went through the process, we realized that we had to play ball or be left behind. Digging in our heels and relying on charisma wasn’t going to retain their business. We had to do our best for the customer.
Rise to the Occasion
After some handwringing, we realized that this was an opportunity to become a better, more competitive supplier — for this customer and all of our customers. The work we’d accomplish and efficiency realized with the exercise would end up benefiting everyone. A small crisis motivates people. Our company was forced to improve, fast.
Spread the Work
Our plan was to push ahead by running the press faster with fewer errors and less waste. We will hold each other accountable to be on our A game every time we print for this customer. But we also pushed some of the pain down to our suppliers. They have to help us find these cost savings. Guess what? They have risen to the occasion, too. With creative problem solving, more aggressive pricing and reviewing options we hadn’t considered before, our suppliers provided most of the savings we were looking for. Together we worked hard to always do our best for the customer.
Always Move Forward
Now even if our proposal didn’t allow us to retain the business, we do know that our company will survive and thrive regardless. Each day we work hard to serve the customer. We always want to win, but sometimes you learn and grow the most from the ones you don’t. Time will tell. We will be ready and we will move forward. •
Scott Pillsbury is a founding member of B.I.N.G. and president of Rose City Label Company, a family-owned business that has been a leader in the Northwest label market since 1928. The company prints for more than 80 craft beer companies, as well as wine, spirits and related industries and was recognized in 2015 as the O.S.U. Austin Family Business of the Year.
Scott and his wife Sherrill have four children and live in Southwest Portland. They enjoy food, travel, running and beer.