28 & 29 June 2012
Got a response from manufacturer's to the revised contract agreement. Five pages of notes, comments and amendments as I had feared but somewhere inside me, hoped to get it back with minimum changes. I was filled with trepidation before reading them, even waking at 3.30am worrying that we would not come to an agreement - don't panic Mr Mannering! This fear was caused by their covering email in which they used the words 'this is not negotiable'. I responded, that to my mind and I think most leaders in the world would agree, everything is negotiable and the basis for good relations and good business. Hah! I thought I had worded that quite cleverly. I began trawling through the 'lawyer speak' myself, thinking if I could do it, it would save me legal fee's. Some of their comments did not cause me concern and I started to think it would be fine and then a biggie came along and I decided that 1. I am not a legal expert 2. I need professional help to know which points to sweat over and which not and 3. If I get it wrong, it could be a case of penny wise, pound foolish. I passed it to the lawyer but with the message that we have to find a way to agree. I had the conversation with K at the manufacturer to explain what was going on and reciprocating to their confidence in my brand and their commitment to wanting to work with me, that I too was committed to working with them and I hoped for the long term though they had to make that easy for me and stating non-negotiable was not. I will get the advice back on Wednesday.
Incidentally, my best friend told me that in one of the companies she worked in, if there was a stalemate on agreeing the terms of a contract, they simply both signed each others contract, on the basis that it would be too costly for either to go to court over a dispute and that encourages parties to work out differences. That seems like a good idea as a fall back position. Michelle, my best friend is here visiting from Canada and it was the most wonderful time spent with her and my God Daughter Lexi. I was a bit embarrassed though when I kept falling asleep after dinner, due to only three hours sleep the night before. Again, more following up with K (manufacturer) on the outstanding queries that she has not provided answers to, as well as my huge concern that when I asked their lab J, for the results of the challenge testing which should have been completed on Wednesday this week, I was emailed that the microbiologist was on holiday and they did not have access to her system! What is that about? I replied 'was her holiday not anticipated along with my need for test results?' and 'was this going to cause a further delay to the next phase of the testing? No answer from J and although K said she would follow up and get back to me today - did not. This kind of thing is so very frustrating that even writing this is winding me up again. Why do people over promise and under deliver when the other way round is so much better?
One of my packaging suppliers has just sent out an email informing of an 8.6% increase in prices effective 2 July. Aaaargh! I wrote back to him B, and said ' come on B, I am a start up; help me out and hold the prices until my first order, please, please, please'. He agreed provided I place a provisional order prior to 2 July, that can be cancelled without penalty if there is an issue with compatibility testing. Thanks B Still waiting on one final ingredient supplier to confirm that she is getting me three ingredients at low MOQ's and without inflating the prices exorbitantly. I have chased and chased. It is such a shame because she is the loveliest person but it is holding me up from knowing what my financial commitment is to exclusive raws excess costs. The carton supplier emailed to follow up, Q. He is the loveliest person and I told him that I would be using his company but need to firm up, number of cartons for each SKU, copy content, artwork etc so he can re-look at quote. Anyone need a carton supplier, let me know because I would recommend him - oops! that might be a bit premature as I have not yet had an order from him but certainly he knows his stuff, competitive on price, good team and a good listener. I worked on the expenses sheet - wow!
This weekend have to prepare for my training the PR team on the product, prepare information for the accountant to do the tax return (groan!), read the retailers terms which I agreed to without reading (not recommended), prepare some of the copy content for packaging, meet a business advisor at a bank, prep some lab samples.....it really is 24/7 Lessons learnt - Keep updating the expenses sheet at least once every two weeks. It keeps you abreast of how you are allocating funds and importantly ensures that you do not get carried away with ideas and initiatives, that in isolation do not seem so very costly, until you add all of them up. Lessons learnt - deal with the big things as soon as you get them. Generally they will not be as bad as you think and 'dipping in' might cause a sleepless night Lessons learnt - don't try to be an expert at everything especially legal/contracts. Lessons learnt - Go ahead and ask. If I hadn't, some of my packaging would be 8.6% more expensive. Lessons learnt - I am really enjoying writing this blog and getting the feedback. Thanks and please keep your interaction coming. Though be prepared, if you decide to write a blog as it can expose you to some unhappy people who may use content to cause you grief.