Excerpt: 'The Wisdom of Ginsu'

Well, I guess we didn't make a full zig out of the scenario, but it counts for half a zig. Well, wait a minute. We still sold about another 300,000 Miracle Painters, and the prepaid to COD ratio changed for the better the more we advertised. It seemed that the more the customers saw our commercial, the more confidence they had that we were indeed legitimate and would ship them the product, so we started to receive a much higher percentage of prepaid orders. We ended up selling about 140,000 additional prepaid orders, so the savings in shipping was about $100,000, which went right to the bottom line. I think that that qualifies for a zig!

We still had a lot of work to do. As two weeks had already gone by, there appeared to be no doubt that we would have to use the post office for CODs. We prepared immediately for the switch over and within days our CODs were going out through the U.S. postal system. A month went by and we were getting our first results from our initial shipment through the post office. The results were dismal. It was apparent that COD delivery by the post office was going to be a failure. If the person wasn't home, the mail carrier would leave one of those little papers saying that the product would be held at the post office for a while and our customer had to go to the post office and pick up the product themselves. It was obvious that the customers weren't doing that about 50 percent of the time. UPS had been delivering more than 90 percent of our CODs! We were suddenly 40 percent of our income. The pressure was unbelievable. I felt like I was holding the whole world over my head, and it sure was getting heavy. Now, I'm the type of person who reads the newspaper from beginning to end every morning, and one morning I was reading an article about the strike, and at the end of the article it said, "...and it looks like the strike will continue east of Chicago." I almost fell out of my chair when I read that. What was this east of Chicago thing? As soon as I got to the office I called the management office at UPS and asked, "What is this East Chicago thing?" They informed me that the strike was only in the eastern region. I asked why on Earth they hadn't told me that before and the reply was, "It wouldn't matter. You would have to bring your product to Chicago for it to be shipped, so we didn't tell you." I was starting to feel that UPS really didn't appreciate our business. In the years to come I would find that that was really an understatement. Here we were, giving them $30,000 to $40,000 a week in business, and UPS didn't even tell us all the details of the strike. Was there a way we could zig in this situation? What if we loaded up trucks with the Miracle Painters and sent them to Chicago? How many would fit in a truck? What would it cost to get that truck to Chicago?

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