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Burning Bridges Before They’re Built

2009 February 11

Small businesses really have a much harder time than big business.  But what if you’re not even a business at all.  As a home winemaker, it certainly isn’t about the money and I expect to put up with a lot of crap that I’m sure big wineries don’t deal with.  What I wasn’t prepared for is just being ignored.

I made an effort last week to contact three barrel distributors.  I gave them close to a week to respond and still I have nothing.  Maybe if I lied and said I’m from some big winery and wanted to order 100 barrels, then maybe I would get a quick response.  Instead, I said that I’m a “home winemaker” and I get ignored.

Granted, my little piddly order of two barrels—not even full-sized barrels at that—wouldn’t make them much profit.  But in these economic times, I would think that any possible sale is at least worth replying to an email.  I mean, how much effort does it really take to email a canned response along with a PDF price sheet?  Besides, who knows who I’m friends with.  I may know some legitimate large-scale winemakers—and I do know a few—and could influence their purchasing decisions.  Especially if they’re members of my wine tasting group and get a chance to sample something I created using one of these vendor’s barrels.  Heck, I might even become the next Robert Mondavi.  Hey, it could happen!

I was always told not to burn my bridges because you never know who you may work for. It took many years for me to completely realize the wisdom of that advice.  Perhaps the impact of our troubled economy hasn’t yet hit the wine industry or maybe old habits are difficult to change, but ignoring us little guys may be failing to establish the connections to potential larger sales in the future. Burning bridges before they’re even built isn’t a very smart way to to run your business. Think about that the next time that email lands in your inbox.

Copyright © 2009, Eric Hwang and BricksOfWine. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eric Hwang and BricksOfWine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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