As my son was growing up, he would, as all teens will, ask to borrow money or have me buy something for him. At some point, I started saying that “Any money I loan you (which usually meant giving him), will be accompanied with advice.” Usually the advice was related to how he could have attained or acquired the funds or the item on his own with better planning or management. I would say, “The money is what you think you need, but the advice, if heeded, would yield a far greater result.”
Many independent business owners place a disproportionately high value on the discount and rebate programs offered by various buying groups and alliances. These monetary perks may seem more urgent, but they should not be the sole consideration. The bigger question is, how do we get the most value? If a buying group can save you hundreds of dollars on your materials costs through rebates and discounts, but doesn’t provide sound advice and support that can potentially save you thousands of dollars, generate additional revenue or correct wasteful practices, then in the long run you haven’t saved any money at all. You could, quite possibly, actually be losing money.
For instance, a buying group that offers a discount on a bulk purchase may save you a few extra dollars on those frames; but if they don’t warn you not to buy a four-year supply, then they have not helped you at all. Rather, they have provided you with an inventory problem. A lab that saves you a few dollars on your monthly bill but does not provide training and guidance to help you control remakes hasn’t saved you any money at all.
While I had to insist on my son accepting some constructive advice, you, as a member of a buying group or alliance, need to assess all the benefits offered (and not offered). You should insist on receiving solid advice that aligns with your vision and business plan in addition to the monetary incentives.
Pat Basile CT LO, ABOC, NCLEC
IDOC Optical Management Consultant