Monday, May 16, 2011

If it's "free", then it must not be worth anything

This afternoon, I visited the web-site of one of our former company’s competitors in Florida, just to see if there’s anything new on this competitor’s web-site.

Although I did not find much new, I did see these three lines, highlighted on this reprographer’s home-page:

* Free Pick-Up and Delivery

* Local Area Only

* $10.00 minimum order

My question to reprographers who do still offer “free” pick-up and delivery -

Do you routinely review customer accounts to make sure that customers, who do take advantage of your “free” pick-up and delivery offer, are generating sufficient business to offset the costs your company incurs to operate pick-up and delivery services?

If you have a small to medium size account - let’s say it’s a subcontractor who is located 5 miles from your production center – whose “average order” is $15.00 – and who places one order each day – are you making a profit on that account? Or, are you, literally, “spinning your wheels” for no gain (no profit?)

With the cost of car insurance increasing year over year, the cost of repairs continuing to increase, and the cost of gas at around $4.00 per gallon –and drivers don’t typically work for free - it “ain’t cheap” to provide pick-up and delivery services.

I can still recall when we offered “free” pick-up and delivery back in the early 1970’s. But, back then, gas prices were less than $1.00 per gallon, car insurance rates were somewhat reasonable and driver-pay-rates were in the $3 - $4 (or less) per hour range, ….. and our average selling price “per sq ft” (for diazo bluelines) was around $.07 per sq ft.

What might have made sense years ago, even 10 years ago, may not make any sense at all today.

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