When Spreading Yourself Thin Goes Wrong (But Also Right)

This week was SEMA Show in Las Vegas, the largest auto show in the US. As we’ve done the past few years we covered the event from a detailing angle. On our Ask-a-Pro Detailer Blog and on social media we cover new product launches, start accepting pre-orders for newly announced products, hold give-aways, caption contests, flash sales and more. We’re the only ones in our industry who cover the event like The Verge or Engadget covers E3. The event isn’t open to the public – it’s industry-only – so customers really love getting a peak inside, and we love giving it to them.

Some businesses that attend SEMA send all of their employees and close down their operations for the week. Years ago we decided that wasn’t best for our business or our customers, so if we were going to attend we’d have to find a way to do so without compromising our day-to-day business. We end up spreading ourselves thin, but we’ve always been able to get it done by breaking up into three groups of two. Mike and Greg fly to Vegas to cover the show on the ground, meet with vendors, and develop those new business relationships that seem to only happen in person. One of our employees works from my house with me on Las Vegas time to assist Mike and Greg. We take all of the photos, videos, and information they send us and get it up on social media and the blog as fast as possible. That of course leaves only two employees to man the warehouse and manage the part-timers.

It’s typically a stressful week but a week we all enjoy, and it’s undoubtedly beneficial for our customers and our business. Except when you spread yourself thin, one unexpected event can cause a chaotic mess. Where we’d typically just shift a few things around and keep on ticking, on a week like this there’s no one really left to pick up the slack. And this past week we had a fury of unexpected events.

On Wednesday one of our employees who was working at the warehouse called in sick. No big deal, instead of working from my house we’d work from the warehouse and assist the warehouse and the guys at SEMA. Then around 2 PM, less than an hour before our FedEx pickup was set to arrive, we received our biggest incoming shipment in company history. On said shipment was a lot of products that had been backordered for quite some time. It’s our policy to do everything in our power to get out any orders being held up by a backordered item on the day we receive it. If the customer has already waited, we don’t like to make them wait any longer. So, we hustled to get ~50 of these orders out. In the middle of that chaos, one of our other employees had to leave due to a family emergency. Oh, and we had a server issue I had to tend to as well in the middle of all of this.

On the average day, being down two people forces us to adjust quite a bit. Being down two, and another two being in Vegas, basically left myself and one employee to try to hold things together. Everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong. BUT things kind of also went really right. The two of us weren’t completely alone, everyone else did everything they could to chip in when they could.

In the end every backordered order was shipped out, we nailed our SEMA coverage, and we stayed on top of our customer service. Our customers should have never noticed anything out of the ordinary. It’s amazing what teamwork, good processes, and people that care can accomplish.