If you haven't seen A&E's hit show Duck Dynasty you should check it out sometime soon. It's entertaining and super funny.
Of course, that's coming from a guy whose favorite TV show of all time is The Beverly Hillbillies! So you'll have to take my entertainment advice with a grain of salt (or a bit of garlic as you will see in just a minute).
Their new book is also very good. It's titled The Duck Commander Family: How Faith, Family and Ducks Built a Dynasty. It is written by Willie Robertson, the CEO of Duck Commander, and his wife Korie Robertson. Among other things, the book shares how they built their company into a multimillion-dollar sporting empire.
One challenge they had early in their business was having one large company as their primary customer – Walmart. How Willie dealt with this challenge is something every business can learn from.
Here is a quote from the book.
"After I took over the business operations of Duck Commander, one of the first big decisions I made was to get us more involved in retail stores like Gander Mountain, Cabela's, Academy Sports and Outdoors, Dick's Sporting Goods, and Bass Pro shops, as well as the huge independent stores like Mack's Prairie Wings and Simmons Sporting Goods.
… For several years, Walmart was about 80% of our business. It was great having our products in Walmart, but it was always a tricky situation. Walmart stocked hunting products during hunting season and then replaced them with something else when hunting season was over.
… I wanted to make sure Duck Commander would be okay if anything ever happened to the Walmart account. So we invested in our relationships with the year-round hunting stores, which became a big part of our business. Wouldn't you know it? Within two years, Walmart decided it was getting out of the waterfowl market altogether. Typically, a setback like that will kill a company. Fortunately, we had a contingency plan and were able to survive without Walmart for a few years."
Dealing with Large Customer Risk
Do you have a single customer that makes up a large portion of your revenues? If so, I encourage you to begin thinking about what would happen if that customer experienced financial challenges in their business? Or if they were to significantly reduce their purchases from you?
What impact would it have on your company's financial position? Could you act fast enough to deal with a sudden change in their buying history?
Hopefully, nothing bad happens. But this planning exercise could pay big dividends by forcing you and your management team to think through the risks and possibly come up with some creative ways to expand your customer base.
Now to the Frog Legs
Willie also said:
"Duck Commander was like a batch of frog legs sitting in the fridge waiting for you to figure out how you were going to cook them."
I know what he means. I always wonder whether to order my frog legs fried or sautéed! J
The chapter ends with a recipe for garlic frog legs. How's that for a great business book?
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