Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Business Survival Story (out of Germany)

In the mid-1990s....I was stationed at Ramstein Air Base.  The BX folks (AAFES) ran the uniform shop on base, which had a tailor operation contracted out to the BX.  It was a small operation....generally two or three people there and making a decent profit (nothing, I assume, to brag about).

At some point, the BX decided to do a compete on the contract with the folks involved.  The old crew had been there a while, and the folks competing.....decided to bid lower, and won. There was a bit of hostility and frustrated by the old crew.  There was roughly a three or four month period for the turn-over to occur.

The old crew....some smart Turkish-Germans....decided to take advantage of the remaining period and do something that no one expected.

They found a small business front in Ramstein-village and rented it.  It was barely two minutes driving from the front gate.

They printed up thousands of business cards to show the new location, the new name, and to let people know that their old reliable tailors were being pushed out.

X-day came, and the new crowd arrived.  Over the next twelve months.....I'd take a guess that half of the business clients from the base went with the old tailor to the off-base operation.

The profits that the BX figured from the new contract?  A fair amount less.  They certainly wouldn't talk about it or put this topic into any forum.  The off-base tailors?  I'd take a humble guess that they were making half the amount of money that they made before.  Expanding off into the German community?  They put some advertising out there, but the bulk of business was always the GI's from the base.

It was one of those rare occasions that a business normally would fail, but somehow....figured out an escape point, and survived only because of business cards and enthusiasm.

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