You know you’ve finally arrived when the big guys have woken up and are asking themselves, “Who IS this company – this little company that has been stealing my shelf space and eating away at my profit?” And they’re not simply expressing some curiosity or annoyance. They’re taking action.
My guitar pick company, HotPicks, has flown under the radar for the past several years. Although we’ve won industry awards and shown at numerous trade shows, our larger competitors never really noticed or appeared to care about our fledgling business. They’re known as the “big guys” for a reason: they own and dominate the musical accessory category we sell in.
But as they say, the times are a changing. And as excited as I am to pat myself on the back, congratulate myself and my colleagues for a job well done, a new fight has already been thrust upon us.
One of our larger competitors, who I will not name, has begun to squeeze HotPicks. And the first way in which they began to do so shook us up – woke us up. They bought out the major distributor of our product. This distributor has carried the bulk of our product for the past four years – we had an excellent relationship with them and were one of their best sellers. We had a lot of confidence in them, and had put a lot of business towards them.
But we just received notice that we have been removed from the catalogue – kicked out. What does this mean? If stores don’t see our product in the catalogue, they won’t be able to order it.
This distributor was a huge part of our business. Am I going to throw up my hands in dismay? Ask myself desperately, “What now?” No. Now is not the time to fold our cards or wring our hands with worry. We need to get a new game plan together. And ask ourselves instead, “Why were we so successful? How can we recreate that success? How can we gain back the distribution we lost?” This new twist is simply an opportunity to make some changes. It could allow us to form alliances with other small companies or expand HotPicks in a new direction. It’s a challenge, to be sure.
This startling event has caused us to regroup and rethink. We probably should have had a contract with our last distributor, insuring that we’d be given ninety days notice if they were bought out, rather than a day or week. We need time to contact new distributors, to pursue new avenues. And we probably shouldn’t have put so much of our business in a single basket. Lessons learned.
But when it comes down to it, it’s just a new day and a new fight.