Last quarter, I talked about ComNet’s need for, and the benefits that we derive from, growth. However, that statement needs to be placed into context. As an analogy, your yard could be filled with weeds. It may be green, but it isn’t a lawn. In order for you to get the result that you want, a lawn requires regular maintenance. The grass has to be mowed. Hedges need to be trimmed. Weeds need to be killed. When you step back and look at it, ComNet is no different from your yard.
We live in a world of hyperbole. The Storm of the Century comes through every winter. Every ball player is a warrior, and every politician is a liar…..sorry, that last one is probably true. The example of hyperbole that I often hear at ComNet is that “They’re a good customer”. From my perspective, the following are some of the characteristics of a good customer.
- The customer is an end-user.
- We have a high success ratio with bid opportunities.
- We’re compensated fairly for the value that ComNet delivers.
- The customer pays in a timely manner.
- We aren’t marginalized by our customer purchasing materials directly.
- ComNet is afforded the opportunity to expand the scope of services that we deliver.
Obviously, these aren’t binary choices. Customer relationships evolve over time. It’s incredibly rare that a new customer has all of these characteristics. It takes time to develop the necessary level of trust on both sides. Also, a customer isn’t automatically disqualified if they don’t have all of these characteristics. However, it does make them a customer that should be evaluated on a regular basis from a cost/benefit perspective. Believe me, our customers are constantly evaluating ComNet on the same basis.
All of this is meant to say that ComNet’s technical resources aren’t unlimited, and the opportunities are becoming more complex. If the overall economy continues along this path, ComNet will find it necessary to make hard decisions about the opportunities that we pursue. Some of this is going on now. The last thing that any of us wants to do is spread ComNet’s service capabilities so thin that we become just like our competition. These are the things that healthy and smart companies do.
-Alex Merrifield, President