The title of this new blog effort – Making Sausage – takes a look at stories behind the scenes at food producers. Mostly from a perspective of ERP software and other IT improvements – probably because that’s where I play. I’ve been doing this for some time – managing companies since the late ’80’s, working in tech and software since the 90’s and concentrating on food companies exclusively since about 2004.
Making sausage in the end, can give you something very tasty, easy to handle, easy to eat (think hot dog) that almost everyone likes. Making sausage at the process level can be messy, contain certain ingredients that you’re better off not knowing about, and some times, in some places, isn’t for the faint of heart.
Over the years, the standing joke around the office is that someone will say, “We did a site visit at Joe’s Meats the other day”. (Joe’s Meats is obviously made up – and lots of times, we’re touring food manufacturers that are very familiar public entities.) But the standing come back to “we toured Joe’s the other day” is always, “And will you still eat it?”
Seriously, today’s food producers have to run pretty clean operations with very little waste, lots of automation and phenomenal quality control – the marketplace demands it.
And I like working with food manufacturers. Most of the people I deal with are pretty down to earth, usually pretty good at what they do, the can be creative, resourceful, dynamic – if they weren’t, their companies wouldn’t have risen to the level where it makes sense given the costs associated with the products I sell.
But I hate thinking of it as sales.
I prefer thinking of it as problem solving.
And when I can solve somebody’s problem, they usually buy my software. When I know a lot about a lot of software products for manufacturers, I can solve a lot of different problems in different places.
So I go looking for problems. Then I leave and look for answers. And I don’t come back until I have an answer that has about a 10:1 ROI for my clients. Unless you can show a man how he can spend a dollar and make 10, sales is much too much like hard work for my tastes.
And sales takes lots of cold calls, letters, shoe leather, travel, and so forth. Many sales guys (and gals) are great at it. Me, I’ll stick to solving problems – because when you solve someone’s problem, they tend to tell their friends – and that’s how I work.
So do me a favor. If you’re in the food manufacturing industry, be on the lookout for grumbling, complaining and moaning – it usually means there’s a problem I can solve under all that