We all overcome unexpected obstacles in our personal and professional lives every day. Did you burn the dinner in the oven? Is the computer acting up, and you have a presentation due? I bet you found a solution to the problem if something important was riding on it.
One of the keys to running a successful business is overcoming those obstacles with grace and hacking your way to a solution that doesn’t impact the customer’s opinion of your service. It’s also important that your team of employees understands that everything can be overcome with creativity and resourcefulness. It’s important to nurture a company culture where giving up isn’t an option.
Since starting Doorganics in 2011, we have overcome many unexpected obstacles. In fact, we do it each day! One thing that Doorganics employees learn very quickly in the onboarding process is that, as a team, we will work together to get the job done, regardless of obstacles.
Here’s an example that still has me smiling long after the fact:
Working with something as perishable as produce presents a unique set of challenges. Whether it’s the heat in the summer or the freezing temps in the winter, we have to stay on top of climate control at all times.
When February rolls around, and temperatures hold below zero for a few weeks, produce can freeze fast. Last winter, somewhere in the supply chain, our delivery of produce was frozen on the semi truck. When it arrived to us, the entire load – hundreds of cases of product – was frozen solid and ruined.
“Well, it wasn’t your fault!” You might say that, and it would technically be true, but statements like this don’t help overcome obstacles. The bottom line was, we needed to deliver produce to customers who were expecting it the next morning.
“So order some more!” It’s not that easy! There aren’t any organic distributors in Grand Rapids with warehouses full of product available on demand. Especially not the unique variety that Doorganics offers! During the winter we typically order our produce from vendors 7-10 days in advance, and the nearest major distributor is outside of Chicago.
So how did we overcome this obstacle? Calling the customers and cancelling an entire day of deliveries wasn’t an option. It would have been devastating to the brand we are building, and our customers would have lost trust in us.
Here’s what we did instead:
Step 1 – I got on the phone and found that one of our distributors had replacement product in northern Indiana.
Step 2 – Doorganics employee Adam offered to drive a van down (overnight in a blizzard, no less!) and pick up the produce at 5am when the distributor opened for business.
Step 3 – The rest of the team prepared themselves to pack the days’ deliveries in half the typical time.
Adam arrived after a very long night with all of the replacement produce. The rest of the team quickly and efficiently packed the orders for the day and stayed late to get everything done. The drivers got a late start, but still had all deliveries done by our goal delivery time of 7pm.
Doorganics lost a lot of money that week purchasing replacement produce, paying for fuel and a hotel for Adam’s trip to Indiana, and tacking on extra labor costs. But our customers were none the wiser, and the business lived to see another day. We hustled, worked together and overcame a giant obstacle. Most importantly, we preserved the trust our customers have in us to provide fresh, healthy food for their families.
How do you promote a “never give up” culture at your workplace?