Sell what you deliver…Deliver what you sell.

How do you feel when the train is late? How do you feel when your flight is delayed? How do you feel when your mechanic says Tuesday, but your car’s not ready on Tuesday? How would you feel if you showed up at your college calculus class and their was a note on the board from the professor saying, “Went to the beach.”? Did you ever have a paper boy not deliver? Remember how it felt? How many jokes are there about contractors going over budget and past the timeline? How about the Big Dig? Massachusetts is a laughing stock? How many billions over budget? How many years late? Crappy quality. Still not done.

Whose fault is this? Why do buyers allow sellers to change the rules after the deal is done? Once the agreement is made, isn’t it done? Shouldn’t the seller deliver what they promised when they promised it in the manner that they promised it? Shouldn’t the buyer do their part in a timely manner? Provide input? Make decisions? Pay the invoice?

I ran a training session today. I started at 9 because that’s what I promised. I was in the room at 8:45, but I said 9. If I started at 8:59 and someone shows up at 9, they have the right to make me start over. The agreement was 9. I finished the agenda at 11. Someone might have to leave right at 11. I don’t want them to be late because I didn’t finish the class on time. I did stay later for the people that wanted to stay, but the official agenda was finished. What’s wrong with black and white? If someone orders a can of black and a can of white, isn’t that what they want? Do we have any right to deliver two cans of gray and hope it’s close enough?

I apologize for the tonality here. I guess the message is two-fold. When you are the buyer, want what you buy, buy what you want, and hold the seller accountable. When you are the seller, set the example.

If you haven’t already, you may want to re-read this.

9 thoughts on “Sell what you deliver…Deliver what you sell.

  1. I have a lot of experience with Disney. I believe the reason for this is because I have, well, a lot of experience with Disney through the years. I went to Disneyland in California for the first time the year after it opened. That was 1956. I would say I’ve been back approximately 50 times. That doesn’t count the numerous Disney movie tickets, rentals, DVDs I’ve purchased and, over the past few years, the Disney costumes (not for me, for my 8 year-old daughter), etc. I’ve also worked behind the scenes as a musician playing at Disneyland back in the 70s. Being from the Los Angeles area, I’ve known several people who have worked or are now working for Disney. The point is this: every person I encounter who does any work for Disney — the theme park, the Disney store, anyone who is in contact with the general public — all have that quality that employers would die for. It’s as if that employee reports directly to Walt Disney himself, even though he has not been with us for years now. Everyone is friendly, courteous, helpful, respectful, and this has been the case since I started my experience with Disney back in 1956 (I was three then, in case you were wondering). Good message, Rick. A nice reminder for us in the trenches!

  2. I am curious about the contractor question. You asked about how many jokes there are about contractors not being on time AND over budget. Is it okay to be JUST OVER BUDGET?:)

  3. You may have been asking this “tongue in cheek”, but I’m gonna give you a very serious and specific answer.It depends on what you promise. If anyone quotes me “not to exceed $X”, I’m not paying a penny over $X unless I agree to pay the difference ahead of time. If I’m quoted “$X-ish”, as a buyer I’m gonna ask, “What does ish mean?” and I’m gonna turn that ish into a not to exceed. That’s my job as a buyer. Black and white. No gray. If the vendor says, “In the vicinity of…” I’m gonna say “How big is the vicinity?” If they say plus or minus a percentage, I’m gonna ask, “What percentage?” If the vendor isn’t black and white, it’s my job as the buyer to make him be.On the other side, the vendor has to be sure that the buyer agrees with all the terms. Not only the price, but also when payment is due. Credit cards, financing, checks, cash, everything needs to be handled up front to be sure that the buyer can and agrees to comply with your terms.Incidentally, you didn’t ask, but I recommend that the same black and white process be applied to EVERYTHING including timeline. Done by…not on or about. May 29th…not three weeks. And while I’m on timelines, if you do project payments, don’t tie your payments to an event, tie them to a date. If you say, “One third down, one third when the project is 50% done, final payment upon completion.”, your customer may never agree that the project is complete. Therefore, they might hold up the final payment. However, if you say, “One third on May 1st, one third on June 1st and the final third on July 1st.” the payment due dates are no longer subject to anyone’s interpretation. Black & white. No gray.Disclaimer: I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY! THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE! IF YOU WANT PROPER TERMINOLOGY, CONSULT YOUR ATTORNEY AND FOLLOW THEIR ADVICE. This comment is intended to give examples of “wishy- washy gray-ness” that might lead to misunderstandings where there shouldn’t be.

  4. I see the point about the customer agreeing to the contract never being “complete”. There’s some subjectivity interpretation there. You better write a good contract. Ok, another tongue-in-cheek question. What if I say $5,000 at May 1, and $5,000 at May 10, but I have done nothing in between?:)

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