Coffee and Rolls

What’s your reputation?  How can you fix or improve it fast?

About 30 years ago, Proforma had a reputation problem. We had been in business for 10 years and the distributorship was growing fast along with our new franchise business model. Actually, our growth was a little too fast for our capital structure resulting in our struggling to pay suppliers in an acceptable time frame.

Word was getting around that Proforma was in trouble. The suppliers were abuzz about it. Our employees were abuzz about it.  My competition was abuzz about it and even went as far as recruiting our employees and calling on our customers. Something had to be done fast.

Fortunately, I was able to secure better financing from our bank. But I wanted to also put an immediate end to the rumors in the industry. So I decided to lease a used Rolls Royce for a year. I called my area suppliers and competitors and invited them out for coffee. I showed up for all these visits in my Rolls Royce.

That one-year Rolls Royce lease may have been the best investment I ever made. When I showed up at the office, the employees saw the car and immediately assumed everything had to be great if I was driving a Rolls Royce. The suppliers and competitors made the same assumption when I picked them up for our meetings.

Our reputation quickly went from that of financial concern to financial strength and success virtually overnight. The suppliers were more excited than ever to do business together. The competition stopped recruiting our employees. The employees gained a sense of confidence that we were financially successful.

Fact is, during that difficult period in our history, we didn’t lose one customer or one employee.

Remember, no matter what your reputation, with enough awareness and a little creativity, you can always find a solution. So roll up your sleeves, find your “Rolls” and roll out your solution.

AboutGreg Muzzillo, Founder of Proforma

Greg Muzzillo started Proforma as an industry distributor in 1978. The company grew quickly and in the early 1980s Proforma was recognized for three consecutive years on Inc. magazine’s list of the 500 fastest growing companies in North America. In the late 1980’s Proforma introduced its membership program to enable distributors to retain their business ownership and independence, and to share in sales and marketing resources, purchasing power with industry suppliers, one back office including all billing, accounting, vendor payments, cash flow, computer systems and more. Today Proforma has more than 750 members with over $500 million in sales. Proforma has over 100 members in its Million Dollar Club and more than 40 members in its Multi-Million Dollar Club (With sales ranging from $2 million to over $26 million). In 2014, eight Proforma members were named to Inc. magazine’s Inc. 5000 List of the 5000 Fastest Growing Companies.

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