Why? is a 3-Part Question.

a quote by Robert Heinzinger

Bob is the president of Trimac Industrial Systems, LLC

Bob was one of my customers in a previous life.  He was the president of General Heating and Cooling in N. Kansas City. That company was a distributor of Carrier Air Conditioning products.   Our distribution software company served his main store along with several branch locations.   Their Inventory was in the multiple 1000’s of items.  At any one time they had to keep up with ½ elbows and a $1,500.00 condensing unit, on the same order.

This was at a time when there was no, 4th Generation Relational Data Base products.  Each new report or program had to be chiseled out by a COBOL Systems designer and then passed off to a COBOL programmer.   By the time the report was completed, few could remember why it was created in the first place.   Today there are many technological tools that can be used to help a distributor.  Back then the best technology was still a strong management team.  (I am not sure that that has changed that much.)

I always liked to go to a meeting at General Heating.  Everyone there had been involved with the installation from the first day that the software arrived.  They never lost track of how much easier it was to run the company with software that was designed for an HVAC distributor.  Over the 10 years that I worked with Bob, I was able to see him in action when it came to running a very complex network of customers, vendors, and branches.  

One of the first lessons that I received from him, was how he maintained control of his inventory.  While our software kept track of the Min’s and Max’s it took a strong hand and mind to keep everyone in the warehouse focused on good inventory management.   Our software created a receiving document for incoming products and a pick ticket for the warehouse to pick the orders for shipping.  Bob had a rule, “If you have a product in your hand, you need either a receiving document to put it away or a picking document to pick it for shipping.”  Without either, the chances of you maintaining your warehouse job was at best, low.

Bob knew that to keep his warehouse focused on his inventory that he needed more than a fear factor, so he stressed to his managers this rule of management:

“Employees Respect What Management Inspects.”

Because of this rule he seldom had to fall back on rule #1.  Both Bob and his management team were an integral part of the everyday operation.  They maintained a constant vigil in the warehouse.  They took the time to inspect the receiver and pick ticket process.  As a result of this vigilance, his employees knew that they had to use the tools the system gave them, to do their job.  

Today Bob and I no longer have a vendor and customer relationship. Today we are old friends.  We occasionally find time to meet for breakfast and I send him my new marketing material to get his reaction.  He is very quick to give me a pass or a no pass on my material.  Our sporadic phone calls give us some time to listen to each other’s sales stories and grab any small sales nuggets that we can use in our presentations.  Yesterday’ conversation gave me this new sales tip. 

So often, in sales, we are faced with an owner or strong manager who has to have that ONE THING from your product or service.  I believe it is “Murphy’s Law” that says that no matter what your product or service will never do that ONE THING.  The reality is that if you do not resolve this issue then no one will listen to all of the great things that your product or service can do.  

Bob recommends using the 3 part Why Question, as the best offense:
1.      Why do you do that process the way that you do?
a.      On alternating Tuesdays we do this that and such and so…
2.      Why do you do that process the way that you do on those Tuesdays
a.      An old customer had to have the …..
3.      Why do you do that process for the rest of your customers, the rest of the week
a.      You know I really am not sure why it is all that necessary…

Each of us can put in our own process question and an “a” based on our products and customer.  The point:  Use as many WHY QUESTIONS as necessary to resolve or clarify the issue.

Mel Carney