Getting the basics right

In one of the best business books that I have ever read, was ‘Marketing Judo’  by the two entrepreneurs who transformed Harry Ramsdens from a single fish and chip shop in Yorkshire to a global brand. John Barnes and Richard Richardson describe the process with disarming candour telling about their successes and failures in a book that is easy to read but is also hard-hitting .

Comparing building a business with the sport of Judo, the authors provide some useful advice based on their extensive experience. The first piece of advice given is to get the basics right. This means making sure that the products or services that you offer meet, or better still, exceed customer expectations. This takes precedence over whizzy sales promotion, social media strategy or any other method to convince customers to do business with you

My youngest daughter has recently bought a house with her partner and understandably sought my assistance with making a new garden. I wanted to include some fruit  trees and saw some being offered by a well known internet supplier with a generous discount. The reasons for the discount were obvious, this was bare rooted stock and needed to be sold on quickly. I placed the order in mid April expecting the trees to be dispatched quickly on account on their perishability.

The order said that the trees would be dispatched within 28 days but I was sure that common sense would prevail and I would receive my order sooner rather than later. I was disappointed that the order took the full month to process and was incomplete. Three of the four trees that I had ordered arrived completely bare rooted without any protection to avoid desiccation. This was despite very warm weather at the time of dispatch. A peach tree had broken dormancy and the foliage had withered completely. It was also clear that the foliage was affected by Peach Leaf Curl. The apples trees, were still dormant and were soaked for 12 hours before planting. To be fair, they are starting to come into bud, I hope that the root system will develop. The order said that he outstanding tree, a Bramley clone 20 would be dispatched with 28 days. I was not impressed.

I felt a little less disappointed when I was notified about the dispatch of the Bramley would be in a couple of days and was pleased to receive a parcel from the courier. I opened the box immediately and to say I was annoyed at what I saw would be an understatement. The photograph above shows the reasons for my annoyance. It would appear that roots were an optional extra for this particular tree . How any supplier could damage its reputation by sending out such poor quality stock is beyond me. How many people had handled the tree from lifting to dispatch and not rejected it? In production nurseries, everybody has responsibility for quality and managers need to make sure that this is understood. As a customer, it is not my job to point out the shortcomings of their quality control.