This week’s focus: Twenty-odd years ago I lodged for a while with a nice couple who worked in the civil service. One night they took me to their local pub. Once there I was amazed to see the local gangsters taking orders and measuring people up for suits and outfits that they would then steal in the coming week. “You can’t do this, it’s just wrong!” I told my landlady, incredulously. “I know,” she replied innocently, “But you can’t get these things for these prices in the shops.

Customers will always pay less if they can, but the recent horsemeat revelations demonstrate that if all the value is taken out of a market someone, somewhere, will take the wrong short cut in order to make a buck. For most companies your reputation is your biggest asset. It can be attractive to simply squeeze your suppliers in order to have more competitive prices, but you must, in return, accept the risks if you push too far.

Where are you currently looking to radically squeeze suppliers and how might your actions have a negative impact on your reputation down the line?

Off The Record: One-Trick Pony by Paul Simon

He’s a one-trick pony

One trick is all that horse can do

He does the one trick only

It’s the principal source of his revenue

© Stuart Cross 2013. All rights reserved.