We humans sometimes make the activities we do for a living seem more complex than they really are.

For example, imagine the plumber you might call to fix a slow drain in a bathroom sink at home.  The whole process can take days, but the actual fix may take just minutes – or less.   This is not something we deal with every day.  And there are a lot of unknowns involved for most of us.

How bad is it? 
How long before it is fixed? 
How much is this going to cost!

Think about it.  You first have to contact the plumber (that alone can take quite a while), then you need to explain the problem, agree on an appointment time for the plumber to “come out and look at it”, and ultimately negotiate your way along the long process with the understanding that:

  1. Plumbers have a very complex job
  2. Plumbers are very busy
  3. This could cost you more than you thought!

In fact not knowing just how bad the problem really could be – and just how complex the fix may be – might make you more than a little apprehensive about how much all of this is going to cost.

The plumber finally arrives at the door and you explain the problem again.  And you are told, “I really need to get a look at it before I can really estimate the problem.”  Now, it happens that  >95% of plugged drains in bathroom sinks are due to buildup of hair.  The plumber knows that – but only because a good share of a plumber’s work is clearing drains.  Once in a while, the problem is actually something much more serious, and to do a good job the plumber has to rule that out, right?   So, correctly, the plumber goes up to the bath to diagnose the problem, and in a few seconds realizes that it is, in fact, another hairball.

Next comes a return trip to the truck to get the right tools…etc., etc., you know the rest of the story.  A $125 “minimum on-site service call invoice” (or more) and a magnetic business card to put on the fridge the next time it plugs up.  But this is not the entire cost.  The whole process took a lot of your time too.  The slow drain was a problem for a while.  And it IS going to happen again someday.  You know it will.  That’s why the plumber left the magnetic business card.  No dirty dealing here.  Just the way it is.

Now imagine that your brother-in-law, Bill, is a general contractor.  You get a message to Bill about your slow drain.   He knows, “Slow drain in the upstairs bathroom?  Probably a hairball.   I’ll stop by at noon.”

Sure enough, Bill stops by with the simple tools ready for a hairball, fixes the problem, and maybe tells you how to deal with it in the future yourself using one of his tools.  It is likely to cost you  no more than the price of a 6-pack of beer.   Even if it turns out to be more serious and need more of a plumber’s time, you will get the rate that Bill pays.  Same magnet on the fridge, much less cost. Why is this better?

  • First, it handles >95% of the problems right away.   Whole thing takes a few minutes.
  • Second, next time there is a similar event, you know just who to call and handle the whole thing without a lot of stress.
  • And third, the plumber knows all of this is how he deals with friends of Bill and builds it into the pricing structure of service.  They identify the customer, fix the problem and move on quickly.  They get to handle more business.

This Blog is dedicated to de-mystifying some of the common ‘complexities’ that for too long have been attributed to the purchasing activities of organizations.  Non-strategic spend categories such as EMPLOYEE UNIFORMS, COPY MACHINES, CREDIT CARD PROCESSING FEES, OFFICE SUPPLIES, FREIGHT, and CORRUGATED PACKAGING are like “hairballs” in the drain for most organizations.

It is good to have someone you can call who knows just what to do, lets you use their tools, and has the best rates.

Organizations of all kinds and sizes can access the experience and the toolbox of Group Purchasing Organizations, like ThePurchasingDept™, to quickly get to ‘Best Practice’ in the non-strategic categories, and focus their energy on strategic activities.