The Trusted Advisor

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In 1985 I attended a round table in Atlanta, representing the Mid-Atlantic states, where I met the IBM executives to discuss the IBM DMAS Distribution Software. After I returned, I gave an ERP software seminar.  When the seminar ended a distinguished looking man walked over to me, shook my hand and said, “I enjoyed your presentation and feel you could help me.  I have a large flower supply company in Manhattan.  The flower shops buy their stock from me between 4 and 8 AM.  Many of my clients pay cash for the flowers.  It’s something I would like to talk to you about.” 

When I came to his office, he presented me with a large stack of green tickets and said, “what you see is $500,000 that my cash clients owe me.  That’s how we keep track of who owes us money.” 

Surprised, I asked him, what would happen if you lose any tickets?”

His response was, “that’s my problem. This is the reason why I asked you to come and view my operation.” 

I resolved his issue by creating an Account Receivable Age Trial Balance that showed the number of days the tickets were open.  When they clicked on the amount it showed the flowers’ description and quantity sold.  Six months later my client called me and asked me to meet him for lunch at the restaurant next to his office.  While having lunch he told me, “My bookkeeper is stealing money and I need you to help me find a reliable, honest bookkeeper.”  

“Why do suspect your bookkeeper of stealing money?”  I asked him.  Instead of answering, he tapped bridge of his nose.  I told him that my associate’s wife, who was both a computer operator and a bookkeeper, was looking for a job and I felt that besides being honest, she would be able to run the computer and do his company bookkeeping.

His response was, “What kind of salary is she looking for and when can she start?”

After I told him, his response was, “Hire her.  I’ll fire my bookkeeper and would like her to start next week.”

“You have to meet her” I told him.  “Suppose you don’t like her.  After all, a large amount of cash is counted in your office.”

“If you recommend her, she must be the perfect person for me.

The next day he met my associate’s wife, asked her to start working immediately and fired his bookkeeper.

Food Distributor Cash Issues

Ten years later I received a call from a large food distributor who viewed my website information and asked me to meet him at his office in Brooklyn.  When I walked into his office, he took me to his conference room and I saw all my published business articles on his table.  When he saw that I was surprised he told me, “I read all your articles and found then to be very informative.”

“Nobody reads all my articles,” I told him. 

His response was, “I’m a CPA.  The reason why I run the business is because of my father, who wanted to retire told me to stop playing with numbers and join the business.”  Next, he took me to his warehouse, showed me his operation and told me that on Easter, Mother’s Day and Christmas people from the old neighborhood come to the warehouse to buy products he imports from the old country, paying for it in cash.

“How do you keep track of it?” I asked him.

His response was, “I trust my warehouse manager who has been with us for twenty years.”

When I heard this, I told him the story of my flower client’s bookkeeper and explained to him that the company I represent, beside having Food ERP software, they have a retail module with a cash register.  The CPA’s family was also was in the real-estate business and was building him a new office and warehouse.  He picked up the phone, called the architect and said, “We need to change the building configuration.  I will need a separate office next to the warehouse that has cash registers.

After they went live with the ERP Software, I visited my client to make sure he was happy with it.  He showed he his new office with the cash registers next to the warehouse, then took me to his office, closed the door and said, I’m glad you told me the story about your flower client’s bookkeeper.  The day we went live with the new Food ERP system my warehouse manager walked out.” 

The key to becoming the trusted advisor is building relationships. Rather than trying to sell. people should take the time to learn their prospects’ business needs. 

About SMC & Dani Kaplan:

Since 1980, Dani Kaplan has worked with manufacturers, distributors and food distributors and processors as the trusted advisor helping them lower their operating costs, streamlining the operation and controlling inventory.

Dani can be reached via SMC – http://www.smcdata.com/contact