Thursday, January 31, 2008

Waste gives birth to more Waste

Yesterday, I reviewed a large stack of invoices flowing through our company. In the midst of the pile, two caught my eye.

One particular vendor had two invoices. This vendor sells us some common, widely-available, commodity-like items. Each of the invoices had, along with the regular purchases, a single no-charge listing. One was for a T-shirt for a very popular NFL football team (size XL). On the other was a nice 2008 calendar. This triggered a memory of seeing a sleeve of Maxfli golf balls listed from the same vendor before.

Which got me wondering.

Is this vendor seeking to differentiate itself in a business where all of its competition sells pretty much the same stuff? By itself, that’s commendable. But, by giving away freebies, is it subtly enticing our company to NOT compare prices and service with other competitors? Look, I know the golf balls and the T-shirts are not free. I know we are paying for it, indirectly. It adds no value to our company, though it probably adds value to the golfers or football fans who benefit from the give-aways. Does it also drive waste for us, by paying too much for basic goods our company needs?

The realization triggered a direct review on my part of this vendor. You may want to poke around and do the same.

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