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Business Strategy Sometimes You Don’t Realize You’re Burning a Bridge!

Amazing enough, the paint had had yet to dry on my previous blog “When to Burn a Bridge” when I received a letter from one of our company suppliers. The letter looked innocent enough. There were no underlined or bold words or capitalized sentences that indicated screaming. It looked like it was going to be very informative, but after I started to read “Dear Customer,” I just about fell out of my chair and at the same time became very angry.

Not only was I angry with the writer but at the company he represented in writing the letter.

The letter stated that the vendor had just received their ISO certification and had adopted a lean approach to their production methodologies. They had analyzed the market, which I assume required some professional help. They did this so they could provide the best service to their customers. They stated that they required a match between them and the customer and that they had reviewed their customer database and matched it to profiles that fit.

They stated that for the business relationship to suit them, the ideal customer needs to have a monthly spend of no less than $5,000.00 and had a potential yearly growth of 20%. They also stated that there must be new product development and parts/assemblies that have consistent repeat orders. What followed was almost like being hit by a bomb with no survivor potential.

I quote “When we matched your company to the profile criteria it did not meet the minimum requirements. For this reason (company X) is providing notice to that our business relationship will be coming to an end. We thank you for your support over the many years and will work with you during the transition phase. —.“

I could not believe what I was reading. They had decided and told me in writing, that our company did not meet their criteria. I then became angry.

What kind of arrogance would cause someone to write and send such a letter? The letter indicated that this was being sent out to other companies as well. The person who signed this letter had in writing really burned a bridge for themselves personally and for their company. If the upper management of the company had authorized this, then their names would also be associated with that bridge burning.

The shock was overwhelming. It indicated that we were a useless company to deal with and actually insulted all our people. We did not meet the minimum. I thought maybe I was overreacting to this letter and consulted our people and other owners and managers from other companies. They too just shook their heads.

In the end I have come to realize that this letter will have very far reaching effects for this vendor for both the company and the management team that put it together. It may even be that they did not realize what they have done. For this I am truly sorry. I guess it is like breaking the law – “Ignorance is not an excuse.”

This blog is intended to share and make you aware. Please do not ever think of ‘Burning your Bridges’ in ways like this. Be very careful that you know the scope of what you are doing because they may cause long lasting permanent damage to yourself, your team and your company.

Your thoughts?