HOW TO RUN A PROFITABLE BUSINESS INTO THE GROUND

Wed, 12/13/2023 - 6:45am

Remember those cool lobster treats we used to carry? The blueberry treats? And those pumpkin ones? What about Brew Bites? Salty Biscuits? Why are they all gone? They were all made by a business owned by a wonderful woman named Pat.

I shall now tell you the story of what happened to all the other treats.

AN UNFUNNY PREAMBLE

Pat started her company the year we started ours. Her lobster treats were some of the very first we carried in our shop. As the years went on, she branched out with the Mini Lobster Treats, Maine Blueberry Treats, and Maine Pumpkin Treats. Her treats were made with as many Maine ingredients as possible. Like lobster, blueberries, applesauce, honey, pumpkin, maple syrup, oat flour, garbanzo bean flour and eggs. Then she started making our Salty Biscuits and Brew Bites. It was fantastic. We both were making good money.

As the years went on, Pat no longer wanted to spend her precious Maine summers slaving away in her hot kitchen. She wanted to spend more time with her grandchildren and relax for once. So she set out to find a buyer for her company.

She found one in a Millennial couple. They already had a successful dog grooming business in Southern Maine. They were starting a family. Pat was happy and I was happy for her. She assured me that she had gone over all the recipes and her routine with them and there would be no hitch or interruption going forward.

I believed it. Pat was telling me this. Why wouldn't I believe it?


A MORE "RELAXED" WORK ETHIC

We got the news in July. The Millennials took over in August. No big deal. We had ordered all our treats for the year in the winter so we wouldn't swamp Pat in the summer. In September we began running out of Salty Biscuits and Brew Bites. We were having a great year.

The new owner hadn't introduced himself yet. So I called him up and told him the situation. He assured me it was no problem. He could have them in a week. He seemed like a nice, engaging, and confident guy over the phone.

A week and a half went by and I didn't see the treats or hear from him. I called him a bunch of times at his grooming business. When I finally got him on the phone, he said he had 10 each of the lobster treats to give us. He and his wife were going on vacation.

I politely told him we didn't need any of the lobster treats and asked when I could expect the Salty Biscuits and Brew Bites.

He said he couldn't make the Salty Biscuits this year because he'd have to pay for extra lab testing, and $100 to the State of Maine for registration. By the time Maine gave its approval, it would be January and he'd have to do the whole thing over again. He would make the Salty Biscuits in January. He would get right on our Brew Bites as soon as he and his wife got back from vacation.

The heavy stink of bullshit was in the air. Why would he be able to do all the other treats and not Salty Biscuits without lab tests and approval? I didn't have a choice, so I reluctantly agreed and wished them a great vacation.

I knew he was lying to me. And if there's one thing about liars it's that they'll keep lying to you until they get caught.


NEXT TWEAK

Fast forward three weeks. It's the middle of October. I ran out of Salty Biscuits. I was almost out of Brew Bites. I really needed them for our Early Bird Sale and the Holidays. He kept evading me on the phone and email so I drove down to his dog grooming salon.

I instantly disliked him. He reminded me of a weasel on methamphetamines. He had nervous twitches and prattled under his breath ceaselessly. His eyes were wide and his mouth always had the remnant of a nervous smile. He kept going from one side of the room to the other for no apparent reason. His right hand was permanently rubbing his scrubby beard. He was the Tweaking Weasel.

I introduced myself. He looked shocked. He held out his beard-rubbing hand and I had no choice but to shake it.

He prattled on and on guiltily, like I just caught him in the middle of some atrocity. He excused himself a couple times. The dogs being groomed barked incessantly in the back.

They still didn't have the Brew Bites. Not one bag. He was very tan. I didn't have treats or a tan. I was also pretty tired whereas he seemed to have tons of energy.

"Next week!" he said cheerfully.

I told Liana the story and she naturally thought I was being the asshole. She had the preponderance of evidence on her side, I'll give her that.


PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVENESS IS A DISH BEST SERVED COLD

He "allowed" me pick up 30 bags of Brew Bites a week later. There was no invoice with it. He asked for payment. I asked him for an invoice. He looked angry. Like I was trying to rip him off. He was treating me like a grooming customer asking for credit. I told him I'd need an invoice to write a check. I was firm on this. After huffing and puffing for a couple minutes he said, "I'll email you an invoice. Send me a check as soon as you get it."

I was pissed off. I had been in business 8 years longer than him. I had been waiting for delivery for weeks, and I was getting a lecture in promptness? How dare this chump talk down to me? I wanted to remind him of the six-figures of business Pat and I had conducted on the "30-Days Net" principle without ripping each other off. But what use was it? I was too angry and busy to give life lessons to "The Tweaking Weasel."

He emailed me an invoice with sales tax included 3 days later. I wrote back and told him to take the sales tax out. He corrected it that day and sent it back. He sent me a flurry of texts asking if I wrote the check yet. I ignored him and sent the check a week later.

Liana was starting to hate him now, too. This guy was going to be a big problem.


THE BIG ORDER

We staggered on through The Hellidays. They mailed us Brew Bites with 10-15 bags/package, rather than have us come pick them up in any quantity. The postage was suspiciously high and cut into our bottom line significantly. I always met Pat or picked the treats up at her house. The Millennials kept sending Brew Bites in drips and drabs with invoices that had bloody, red, alarming stamps on them. Like I hadn't paid them in six months. And they weren't special invoices for me. They sent them out to all their clients.

In January, we put together our yearly "Big Order."

We ordered our usual thousands of bags of treats. I asked for them to be ready by May 7th. I asked them how much spent grains and beef liver powder they needed. Were they OK on packaging labels? Also, please don't use your smudgy stamp for the "Date Bagged" spot. I bought a date label gun and would be glad to date-stamp them.

He wrote back that they were going on another vacation and he had paid the $100 registration for the Salty Biscuits. He asked I pay them back. I wholeheartedly agreed. It would be great to have the Salty Biscuits back.


READ THE EXCITING CONCLUSION OF APATHY AND FAILURE HERE: https://mailchi.mp/twosaltydogs/the-salty-paws-december-2023-7226160

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