Profiting At The Bottom Line™

This month’s focus: If Not In Writing First – Then The Writing’s On The Wall

There’s a business mantra that’s as old as business itself: “Promises are great, but if you don’t have it in writing, that promise is worthless.” Although there’s no paper that may insure you from ever falling victim to the dubious or ruthless business villain. What will be self-evident is – without it – you’re assured to get everything they want you to get. Which will be nothing – or even less.

Case Study: Earlier in my career I took an opportunity which at the time seemed sound. A premier specialty food manufacturer was in dire straights and needed help in not only a turn around, but the then plant manager had walked out leaving no one (even the owner for he had been hands off for years) with any operational procedures for equipment, staff, duties, formulas, and more. The company was in dire straights with a panicked owner desperately seeking help.

I interviewed for the position and was hired. However, after I was hired, I was offered a word of advice from a fellow colleague who had known and dealt with the principal prior and he said to me just one cautionary line: “All I can tell you is – be careful.” I thanked him and ventured onward.

I hit the ground with both feet flying. In a few months we streamlined operations, created master formulation sheets, equipment and over all shop procedures, hired new staff, and more. Not only had what I put into place and action worked. It worked so well that the following holiday’s sales and profitability were the best on record in its 25 year plus history. So ecstatic with the results the owner asked if I would like to become partner and subsequently work him out to retire leaving me as the full owner and CEO. We talked for a few days and nights, settled on some terms and shook hands as to make it so. All that was left was for the paperwork to be finalized by our attorneys. I felt as if I had hit the lottery, Well, something did finally hit – however, it was more like the fan than lottery winnings.

Week after week went by as I waited for some paperwork. Nothing. I would casually ask (for I didn’t want to cause any stress) and would always get the reply of “I’ll call and see if they can’t hurry it up.” Then more weeks past, and the more I’d try to find out what the issues were, the more irritated at any questioning he became. Till finally there was real tension coming into the situation you could cut with a knife.

Finally in exasperation I expressed if he would like my attorney to handle some of it where we wouldn’t be hampered by just his side. This way the work would be cut in half and I would pay out of my own pocket for the work my team did as to show “good will” for maybe he was feeling pressured also by the lack of speed coming from his side. We agreed and he thanked me for such a generous offer.

The next day he asked if we could sit down and go over what we had agreed previous and put it down on paper as to make sure we were both on the same page. He asked me to make sure I signed it for he too would sign off and give me a copy. He thanked me and said he would give it back to me in the morning. Which he sure did.

The following morning as I walked into the building I was met and escorted up to my desk and told to clear out. I was fired. No explanation was given. I was left dumbfounded as well as in a complete state of shock.

Later in my first round of arbitration as to see if I had a case for compensation I was asked by the adjudicator to state my side of the story which I did. When I finished he was asked to do the same.

The story he told was not only fictitious – it was insulting. But it was the least of the insults to injury. As defense for his termination of me, he produced the paper he asked me to create and proceeded to explain how he had just revived his company, and that just when he was once again on solid ground; I produced this ultimatum and told him to either sign it, or, I would leave him flat just like the manager I replaced. He then stated “What else was he to do? Be blackmailed?” I was left speechless.

It’s not what people do too you that’s the tough part of life – It’s how you have to treat everyone else going forward that’s the real tough part.

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

Profiting At The Bottom Line™ is a monthly memo, which is pithy, powerful, and to the point. It focuses on innovative techniques and or ideas that you can put to work immediately in your daily or business life.