Do you know who this couple is?
For years I have been using this picture to illustrate one of our presentations. It gets used all the time, and is shown in job interviews, to new colleagues, prospective suppliers, clients, customers, and anyone else we introduce the company to.
The slide comes up when I talk about partnership, especially partnerships we have with the suppliers of the products we sell, the companies we distribute for. Our Supplier Partners are very carefully selected, and we do significant due diligence before we take one on. We don’t have huge numbers of them, and they are chosen to be mutually supportive and synergistic with our other partners.
They will have high performance products suited to our customers’ needs, and with a record of outstanding quality. They will have excellent service and technical support. Most of all, they will understand and share in our values. This is fundamental to our success.
Well, if you don’t know who this couple is, it’s Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, one of the most celebrated and talented movie dance pairings of all time (video). The reason why it is a pertinent picture is that they used to say, “Sure Fred was great, but don’t forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did…backwards and in high heels.”
I like to say that we are the Ginger in our Supplier Partner relationships. Close cooperation, cheek to cheek, precise coordination, shared dynamic… and together we are box office. But because our business is customer facing, because we are at the sharp end, because the buck stops with us – we have to do that little bit more. I love the analogy.
The trouble is, increasingly the people I talk to don’t know who Fred and Ginger are. Yeah, I know… but millennials and younger people have never seen Top Hat or Swing Time. This once iconic couple are becoming less relevant. And I suspect that the latest Strictly Come Dancing winners will be too ephemeral for this purpose.
So my challenge is this: a bottle of champagne to anyone who suggests a more contemporary illustration of our style of partnership which I can use. Drop me a line.