A Timeline of Time: You Want it When?

I am grateful to have the perspective I do. Having sold prior to the launch of the Internet, I am constantly amazed at what today’s sales reps take for granted. Take delivery times, for example…

Many moons ago, I sold business forms. Two weeks out of college, I was in Worcester (pronounced, “Wuh-sta”), Massachusetts (pronounced, “Romney”), schlepping computer forms and trying desperately not to let my voice crack as I begged for business. I’d park downtown and walk (Yes, walk!) from business to business and back again, uphill both ways.

I was an 80-pound sales weakling. But I digress…

The delivery times we posted at UARCO Business Forms now seem like an April Fool’s joke:

  • Standard delivery: 6-8 weeks.
  • Rush delivery: 3 weeks.
  • “Super” rush delivery: 1 week.
  • Anything less than that: Not possible. Not kidding!

My favorite, though, were the tax forms we used to sell. We had (and I’m not making this up) 26-week delivery times for W2 and 1099 forms. That’s six months, kids!

Then came FedEx.

At the same time as I was just starting out, Fred Smith’s idea—born of a term paper he wrote in college—was just getting legs and taking off (pun intended). Fred changed everything, and in an instant, the thought of absolutely, positively needing something right now—and getting it!—was initiated, a thought that permeated the print and forms industries. Suddenly, six-week deliveries became six-day deliveries, then same-day deliveries and, ultimately, while-you-wait deliveries.

I once produced a job that arrived in my e-mail inbox while I was sitting in a hotel room in Melbourne, Australia. The client sent the file from the company’s Denmark headquarters, but then requested changes. I e-mailed the revisions to my designer in Denver who made the changes and sent the file to Boston for an OK. Once approved, it was FTP’d to my friends at Wise Business Forms in Georgia who cranked out the 250 jewel case covers for a CD and FedEx’d them back to the client in Boston. Ironically, the slowest part of that whole process was FedEx itself. It had the audacity to take all night to deliver the job.

As a 30 year sales veteran, Bill has the perspective of a been-there, done-that sales rep in the commercial print arena. Following sales fundamentals and giving unapologetically "old school" advice, he writes and speaks in an entertaining fashion to make his points to sales people and owners who sell. "Bill Farquharson will drive your sales momentum."
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  • Linda

    Ah yes – we sometimes refer to those as ‘the good old days’! Thanks for a walk back in time!

  • Fred J.

    Great story

  • Marc Zazeela

    Great article, Bill. The world got along just fine before things moved at the speed of light. Patience seems to be a commodity that is in short supply in today’s world.

    We live in an instant gratification world. Take some time, be patient, stop and smell the proverbial roses.


  • Mary Beth Smith

    LOL – I’ve been calling it "McPrinting" for several years. Customer drives into your parking lot, mumbles their order into the clown face, pulls around to the back door and you toss their perfectly completed job into the back seat…or at least, that’s the way they THINK it works!

    A few years ago, a customer urgently ordered a rush job, then called me 4 hours later to cancel. I told her we’d already ordered the paper (lay terms, since "stock" would mean nothing to her), and she indignantly responded, "You’re telling me you’re a printing company and you don’t keep PAPER?!"

    Yes…it’s different now…lol

  • Cindy Walas

    Great take, and yes, it’s all too true. Fed Ex needs to ramp up to deliver "yesterday or sooner." That will give us all the time we need on the front end – LOL!