I think it’s a universal truth that no one likes change. As proactive as I try to be, I still don’t like change that was not a part of my plan. This year, I’ve been impacted by several changes beyond my control, and they have forced me to re-evaluate my plans.
The first major change happened when two of my grandchildren came to live with me and my wife. After being empty nesters for a number of years, having 9- and 12-year-old boys in our house again represents a substantial change. It’s amazing how much they affect every decision you make. It has been a difficult but rewarding transition. Such a major change certainly makes you re-evaluate how you spend your time.
Lavatec Inc. is in the process of restructuring or going out of business. The only thing I know for sure is how hard it is to find parts.
Losing this resource would really hit us where it hurts. It would force us to find alternate sources for spare parts, and cause us to replace some equipment sooner than originally planned.
It also brings home to me my own advice: to cultivate good working relationships with a number of different vendors.
A number of years ago, a young linen salesman and his boss made a cold call on my facility. They inquired about what linen items I was buying, especially my scrubs. They represented the same line of scrubs I was buying and asked if they could send me a price quote.
I’d be happy to review their pricing, I told them, but I was committed through a corporate purchasing agreement for my scrubs. It was unlikely they could get that business. In fact, I brazenly told them they had two chances of getting my business — slim and none.
Fortunately, for me, they took that as a challenge, not a turn-off. They aggressively pursued my business and, within several months, were supplying all our scrubs.
I often retell this story to remind myself not to get too comfortable with what I’m doing. Change has a way of forcing itself upon us.
Finding a more reliable supplier for my scrubs at a much lower price was a welcome change. And it wouldn’t have come about if the salespeople hadn’t worked hard to overcome my natural resistance to change.
Lavatec’s problems caught us by surprise; we were not prepared. We’re looking for alternate sources of parts for our equipment, scrambling like everyone else to fill the void left by this company. If we had been more proactive and talked to other equipment companies and distributors, this might be less of a problem for us.
In our current economy, we shouldn’t be surprised when some of our old, dependable suppliers have problems or go out of business.
Trust can be lost almost overnight when management makes changes based solely on what is good for the company, not what is good for the customer. For business to be good, it must be good for both.
I strongly believe in building business partnerships with my major suppliers. They are based on both companies benefiting from the success of my operation. When changes put that relationship in jeopardy, then a manager must be ready, willing and able to form new partnerships with other suppliers.
I realize it’s difficult to find the time to develop these relationships, but it’s even more difficult to have to do it all at once when the change is forced on you.
By adapting our management style and adding a meeting or two a month to our schedules, we can be better prepared to meet both the good and bad changes sure to come unexpectedly into our lives.