Profiting At The Bottom Line™

This month’s focus: When A Free Convenience Can End Up Costing You Dearly.

There are many details in business we need to first trust, then leave in others hands. What allows one to do such things is an implied trust in either a person, or, in another business relationship’s competence. Many times this may be wrapped up in the framework of: convenience. This “convenience” we may take in an effort to save time and/or money. Yet, what we infer as “trust” many times can be thwarted in ways we never thought possible. Only to then realize, after the fact, that “convenience” is exactly what might cost us dearly.

Case Study: In the early 90’s I was involved in a large ethnic wholesale/retail food market. The facility was in a tough part of town however, we had transformed the original building and were doing a bang up business. One issue that always troubled me was security, for many of the transactions were in cash. It was for this reason I opted to forgo leaving the daily receipts on premises and made what then were common “overnight deposit bag drops” at our local bank branch. The thinking was: Better in their vault than in our safe.

Rather than deposit every morning at the teller window, standing and waiting till processed. (it took considerable time to count) I would just drop it off at night into the “Night Deposit” portal and pick up my bag and receipt in the morning; for it was counted and added to my account in private before they opened. It was (and for some still is) a common practice that went without a hitch for over a year. Till one day: it didn’t.

I received a call at my office in the early morning and was notified my deposit was wrong. I was informed there were tallied checks in the deposit bag, however, the cash I had listed was not within. They asked if I forgot to put it in. Scrambling in a panic I told them I would check, for if I did, it would surely be here. Yet, it was not. I told the bank I would be there momentarily.

I then scoured every corner of my facility and more to no avail. I didn’t have it. Not only that – depositing the bag without it was near impossible. Too not notice the sheer bulk of it missing again – was near impossible. (e.g., Just for a visual representation. You may have a deposit of $10K in checks that fits in an envelope. Yet, if that same 10K was made up of $1K in one dollar bills; the bag turns into a balloon. You’ll immediately notice something isn’t correct before you leave your desk let alone put it into a hole in the wall of a bank where the worry is: Will it get stuck in the chute? More times than not.)

There was no doubt in my mind that the cash was there; and I said so. This didn’t go well at the bank as one would imagine. However, I called for an investigation to be made and was assured by the bank “a full review of the situation would be made” and I would be notified of their findings. The problem? My money was gone, and I was out of luck until (and if) they found out to the contrary. While for the record, the amount missing was not only sizable – its vanishing was a real blow to our operational capital for weekly survival.

Within a week I noticed one of the tellers I had come to know had been “let go.” When I asked why, I was informed it was for other reasons not pertaining to my incident. After a few more weeks (yes weeks) all of the tellers, including the teller manager was no longer there. When I asked why, I was once again told “for other reasons.” I was then told (in private) by a business loan originator that I had dealt with over the years currently employed by this bank in response to his questioning me on how it was being handled. He remarked, “Do not let this go, what you’re being told is garbage! Stay with this.”  And I did. (or at least tried)

In the end? There was never any resolution. The bank’s finding? The money was never there. The proof? That was what they determined. Their argument? Prove that it was – or go away. Which they knew I could not – only they could. The result? I was out the money with no recourse.

Conveniences are great. Especially when they’re free. Just don’t let the lure of convenience lull you into a too trusting position. For it will be precisely these you’ll remember as costing you the most money or trouble – at the most inconvenient of times.

© 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.