A personal post from Graham Ellis
Lisa and Graham live in Melksham, Wiltshire, England

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Cost of Sales

Let me tell you about a job I did last month ...

An approach for our smallest possible training product - one day, non-residential, and least profitable (running as an "extra" one on one day as no standard public course covers the need) lead to a day being penciled into our diary. Follow ups indicated that the offer of the day - to run more or less "at cost" in these circumstances - was going to be taken up, but in spite of several reminders, no confirmation order nor confirmation that payment would be made on the day was forthcoming. And that even included no acknowledgment of a reminder email sent on the Friday - "If you still want next Monday ...."

But that Monday came and, unscheduled, the delegate turned up. Fortunately I was able to run the day. Mind you, I insisted that the day be paid for up front, on the basis that if it took so long to raise a PO, and the delegate wasn't able even on that Monday to make a phone call to sort it out, that it would have been risky to offer credit - even though I was certain that his employer isn't about to go out of business, and that the requirement was a genuine one from the organization.

A huge sigh of relief to have job done, and payment received? Yes - except that we then got the PO through the system - about a week after delivery of the course, and with it a separate request from the delegate that we refund his payment and invoice based on this snail of a P.O. ... to be paid (no doubt) at the end of the following month, if we chased it properly through the system. A further series of emails back and forth, with an updated copy of the invoice marked "paid" but confirming that it related to the reference number shown on the the belated order was demanded requested, and provided. We were even asked (and declined) to re-invoice to ask for a second payment, to refund the original when the second payment came through. I felt this wasn't morally correct (and was probably illegal) - requesting payment when we had already been paid - and declined, but I did confirm that if an automated BACS system dumped a second payment into our account, we would refund one of the payments.




Booking costs / Cost of Sales can eat up a serious chunk of the cost of a course. I'll hazard a guess that answering all the twelve emails I've received from this customer, added to the multiple sets of paperwork that Lisa has had to generate, and the credit card company's commission on the payment has lead to a loss on what was always going to be a job with only a tiny profit margin. In other words, we and (indirectly our other customers) are subsidizing these people who have a system that is so out of kilter that it produces mountains of extra work, requests for dubious invoicing, and a degree of stress on Lisa and me who are cut out to provide a product, not to fight some darned system.

I am NOT identifying the organization concerned here - but suffice to say that we have done occasional business with them in the past and this sort of thing is not an isolated incident - although their Chief Executive blithely talks about how they go our of their way to look after smaller local businesses. Me thinks that the head doesn't know what the feet are doing - and me knows that we probably WILL accept future business from them, but with a heavy heart. After all - we love working with people on fabulous subjects such as PHP, MySQL (the day in question) and so on, and will take the occasional knocks to do so.

The good news is that this is a "one in a thousand" case. The majority of our customers orders go through with (- yes - a few questions and oddballs) no long series of problems, and to you all - a huge THANK YOU. Please keep your systems practical, then we can maintain our prices at their current levels. Cost of sales can - truly - be a major cost to a business such as ours.

(written 2010-06-01, updated 2010-06-02)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
G502 - Well House Consultants - Business Practice
  [4520] No cold sales calls please - but delighted to hear from others! - (2015-09-29)
  [4415] Buffet review - taking the price into account - (2015-02-05)
  [4293] Certification - (2014-09-15)
  [4107] Snog, Marry, Avoid - (2013-05-31)
  [3755] Cruising on the Mersey Ferry? - (2012-06-07)
  [3750] Matching opening hours to when customers can come in and buy - (2012-06-04)
  [3665] Will will smile? - (2012-03-22)
  [3613] Keeping Business Local. But is that realistic? - (2012-02-13)
  [3506] Cold call contacts - preference services and turning off spam sales approaches - (2011-11-03)
  [3333] Honesty and a friendly welcome goes a long way - (2011-06-25)
  [3157] A new monopoly on the ferry to Northern Ireland - (2011-02-04)
  [3073] Customer Service - the boundary - (2010-11-27)
  [2966] Cheap Country Hotel in Melksham, Wiltshire? - (2010-09-21)
  [2936] The service that customers should receive - (2010-08-27)
  [2821] Chancellor George Osborne inspires Perl Program - (2010-06-22)
  [2598] An excuse for making a sales call - (2010-01-26)
  [2465] Melksham Town - asleep or awake? - (2009-10-21)
  [2331] Certification Revisted - Lua - (2009-08-09)
  [2283] Everyone is in the customer relations business - (2009-07-12)
  [2190] How you are (re)presented at an exhibition - (2009-05-19)
  [2187] Are we IITT (Institute of IT Training) members? - (2009-05-17)
  [2161] Get it right ... if it goes wrong, it takes so much effort to sort out! - (2009-05-08)
  [2126] Weeding out old phone numbers - (2009-04-11)
  [2122] Commission Creep - (2009-04-08)
  [2044] Please Trouble me - (2009-02-16)
  [1913] Alastair Darling helps make paperwork and confusion - (2008-11-30)
  [1855] Volunteer v Employee - a skewed balance? (FSB) - (2008-10-25)
  [1713] Ways to accept credit cards - or not! - (2008-07-19)
  [1626] Early May - a short chance to regroup and improve - (2008-05-01)
  [1485] Copyright and theft of images, bandwidth and members. - (2007-12-26)
  [1453] What makes our courses special? - (2007-12-02)
  [1394] Business to Business Networking - North and West Wilts / Melksham - (2007-10-17)
  [1373] New Month, New Quarter, New Laws - (2007-10-01)
  [1342] Google, wwmdirectory, Freshwater, ATP - new scam? - (2007-09-09)
  [1319] Customer feedback - lifeblood of a business - (2007-08-25)
  [1263] 0800 043 8225 - a new phone number for Well House - (2007-07-10)
  [1260] An inspirational business talk from one of our prospective MPs - (2007-07-06)
  [1243] Heavy duty hole punch - (2007-06-24)
  [1165] Extended Credit request - train in June and be paid in September - (2007-04-27)
  [1157] Speed Networking - a great evening and how we arranged it - (2007-04-21)
  [1133] B-2-B Networking, 20th April. Useful for YOUR business? - (2007-04-03)
  [1084] Writing terms and conditions for conferences and other events - (2007-02-17)
  [1057] Selling by phone and Skype - our policy - (2007-01-30)
  [906] A commitment we won't be making - (2006-10-27)
  [883] Age discrimination law - (2006-10-01)
  [869] UNABLE TO ATTEND - (2006-09-16)
  [849] Staff Meeting - (2006-08-30)
  [808] Sales call - (2006-07-19)
  [766] Discounts and approved supplier lists - (2006-06-17)
  [664] Ruby course - oops - it's not happening - (2006-04-01)
  [652] Morning Post - (2006-03-20)
  [626] Not just a pretty face to answer the phone. - (2006-02-26)
  [536] Cancellations and penalties - (2005-12-21)
  [491] Being atypical is typical - (2005-11-10)
  [487] On line course booking - credit card protection - (2005-11-06)
  [467] Tell them three times - (2005-10-17)
  [457] Do the work and take the risk - a PHP contract to avoid - (2005-10-06)
  [438] Fair system for travel and accommodation expenses - (2005-09-07)
  [399] simplicity hides real size - (2005-07-31)
  [321] Sales - the alternative close - (2005-05-23)
  [297] A reminder that the customer is King - (2005-05-01)
  [226] Growing our systems - (2005-02-24)
  [217] Use of time - (2005-02-16)
  [211] Look after your staff and they'll look after you. AOL. - (2005-02-12)
  [200] Tips for the top - (2005-02-03)
  [188] Pink elephant and appreciation - (2005-01-24)
  [180] Skunk works - (2005-01-17)
  [157] Automatic service upgrades - (2004-12-19)
  [137] Certification schemes - (2004-12-02)
  [129] Trawling our site to prevent student copying - (2004-11-24)
  [125] Staff theft - (2004-11-21)
  [121] Fair and Simple - (2004-11-17)
  [108] A typical morning - (2004-11-03)
  [95] Five red flags - (2004-10-21)
  [88] Getting the right level of trainer - (2004-10-14)
  [77] Telephone systems - (2004-10-07)
  [68] Get the strategy worked out and the tactics just fall into place. - (2004-09-30)
  [27] Sales technique - (2004-08-25)
  [15] 90 to 10 or 80 to 20 rule - (2004-08-15)

Z801 - Pettifog
  [4720] Celebrating our diversity rather than discriminating for it - (2016-11-02)
  [4651] Pressure selling in the fire safety business - (2016-02-19)
  [4630] The story behind the bus cuts, and what they could mean - (2016-01-24)
  [4354] Wiltshire Police - assuming someone is guilty just on the say-so of a member of the public? - (2014-12-16)
  [4304] Please do not ask me to be the chair! - (2014-09-25)
  [4282] On tipping - and the expectation of a tip - (2014-07-10)
  [4167] The important customers are the majority, not the celebrity - (2013-09-08)
  [4140] Riots in Melksham - (2013-07-13)
  [3900] The Xxxxx Guest House in Xxxxxxxxxxx - my stay reviewed - (2012-10-20)
  [3835] The Information age - not yet truly with us? - (2012-08-12)
  [3749] Removal of water safety equipment, and how to use a lifesaver ring - (2012-06-04)
  [3302] Are you a half full or half empty person? - (2011-05-25)
  [3084] Can you trust the big brand names? - (2010-12-12)
  [3030] Liquorice allsorts and Dolly Mixtures - (2010-11-05)
  [3013] Audio equipment - (2010-10-24)
  [2944] What others cannot do in 10 months takes Virgin 10 minutes - (2010-09-03)
  [2937] The cat in the dustbin - (2010-08-27)
  [2761] A small business, facing a big government questionnaire - (2010-05-12)
  [2625] Both feet on the same pavement - (2010-02-05)
  [2193] Excellent product, excruciating customer service. 3 Mobile Broadband - (2009-05-21)
  [1972] Pettifog and forum boards away from public view - (2009-01-03)
  [1862] Remember your units - (2008-10-31)
  [1839] Job application - (2008-10-13)
  [1783] Think before you send - (2008-09-02)
  [1741] Age Concern - (2008-08-07)
  [1349] Cash is not an acceptable way of paying - (2007-09-13)
  [1337] A series of tyre damages - (2007-09-08)
  [1170] Smoking, or no? The law insists we spell out the obvious - (2007-05-01)
  [826] Fighting illegal net use by imposing download limits - (2006-08-09)
  [815] Time trickles like water through a sieve - (2006-07-27)
  [791] Strange housewarming - (2006-07-03)
  [783] Good follow up ... my thanks - (2006-06-28)
  [638] A pile of sand? Where do we stand? - (2006-03-08)
  [600] It costs nothing to say THANK YOU - (2006-02-11)
  [562] Smoke and mirrors - (2006-01-12)
  [519] New Road - (2005-12-06)
  [478] Watch what you wear - (2005-10-26)
  [471] And it gets even better - (2005-10-21)
  [439] You cant - (2005-09-08)
  [323] 1 in 48 steel - (2005-05-24)
  [90] Rude old people - (2004-10-16)
  [87] Too sittings - (2004-10-13)
  [52] International awareness - (2004-09-17)


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Melksham to London (Heathrow, and Central London)
Some other Articles
Should Government compete with private industry?
Bath to Melksham buses - times
Joining a MySQL table from within a Python program
Melksham to London (Heathrow, and Central London)
Cost of Sales
Sleeping in on Sunday
Factory methods and SqLite in use in a Python teaching example
The Light bulb moment when people see how Object Orientation works in real use
Course Lunches
The Perl Survey
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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