Volume 45, Issue 11 - November 2010

Buyer’sBlock

Will You be Wallypipped This Year?
How to Stay on Top of the Game
By Paul Bieber

First, a little history. Wally Pipp was a major league first baseman for the New York Yankees from 1915-1925. He was the American League home run champion in 1916 and 1917. Wally was a journeyman player, playing in 136 games or more in each season with the Yanks. The Yankees, with Pipp, won the pennant in 1921 and 1922, and the World Series in 1923.

In the summer of 1923 the Yankees signed a local boy as a pinch hitter. This boy sat on the bench, getting to play in only 23 games during the next two years, always as a pinch hitter.

On June 2, 1925, the veteran Pipp told his manager he was tired and had a headache. The manager looked down the bench and saw the boy whose name he could hardly remember. The manager told him to get his glove and go play first. The boy was Lou Gehrig and he didn’t sit down on the bench for the next 15 years, playing in 2,130 consecutive ball games. Pipp’s career as a Yankee was over.

Suggestions for Staying a Mvp
Being “pipped” or “wallypipped” became verbs in the ’30s, being used when someone or some company was left out of their own future.

"There is no customer who is guaranteed to come back to you next time. You have to be on the top of your game every day."

This happens every day to companies across the country. A steady customer calls you up and asks you to do an emergency repair. You say you can’t get there for a couple of days. They look in the yellow pages and … you get pipped.

A customer asks if you carry a certain type of product. You say you don’t and suggest they try another vendor. Guess what? You are about to be pipped.

There is no customer who is guaranteed to come back to you next time. You have to be on the top of your game every day. So what do you do? Do you take a money-losing job just to stay on with a customer? Do you bump someone else from your schedule?

Here are some ideas that may prevent you from being wallypipped:
• A customer wants a job done now and you don’t have time. Do not tell your customer you can’t do it. Call another glass shop and sub the work to them. Tell your customer you will get it taken care of for them. Bill your customer yourself and pay your sub. Keep a list of glass companies in your area that you trust to do your work—and offer them the same cooperation when they call you.

• A customer wants a product you don’t carry. After you offer them similar products and they won’t bite, get them the product they want. If they want it that bad, someone will do the work to get it for them—it might as well be you. Buck this up the line to your fabricators and distributors to get the product for you. You may quote a high price for this extra service; you deserve it, and your customer should know he is paying for a special product.

• A customer calls and you tell her you will get back to her in a couple of days with the answer. No advice will help you … you
will be pipped.

• A competitor undercuts you on a bid, trying to steal your customer. The customer gives you the option of matching the bid. You have to gamble here. If the “other guy” is unreliable and weak, it might be a good bet. If he is reliable, take the job at his price, and learn how to do things with a lower overhead. This may be a real wake-up call for you.

• A customer leaves a message on your phone to call about a problem. You put it off for a day or two because it is unpleasant. And, your phone number will now be 1-800-wpipped.

You get the picture. Don’t screw-up. Customers are too valuable.

Paul Bieber has 30 years in the glass industry, including 21 years as the executive vice president of Floral Glass in Hauppauge, N.Y., from which he retired in 2005. Mr. Bieber’s opinions are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of this magazine.


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