Issue #39: The Power of Paper

Earlier this week my wife and I took our corgi puppy, Cici, to the vet for her second round of vaccines and the vet did something that caught my attention. 

When we parked and someone came to check us in from our car, they handed us a pamphlet with a plan of care package offer for the first 16 weeks of her life. It included vaccinations, shots, nail trimming, flea medication, stool screening, and 10% off spay or neutering all for a single price. After they took Cici away for her appointment, we looked at the sheet and saw it was all we would eventually need and we could save money with the plan compared to paying for each item individually. We decided to take them up on the offer. 

This pamphlet was interesting for a few reasons. First, it was on paper. We held it in our hands for the duration of Cici’s appointment, around fifteen minutes. A long time to look at a single sheet of paper. And since we were alone in the car it didn’t feel like a pressured sales environment. We could talk openly about the package’s pros and cons without offending the vet. 

Additionally, with the timeline and vaccinations listed we could do the mental math to figure out the individual costs, but they had already done it for us at the bottom of the page next to the package’s price. We knew, and they knew, we needed these vaccinations for Cici anyway and would have to pay for them at some point. Why not pay a lower overall price upfront?

Finally, from a cash conversion perspective this is pretty smart. The vet gets $350 today for appointments spread over 4 months. They receive all the payment they need ahead of incurring costs for supplies, vaccines, and labor for our puppy far in advance.

As we sat in the car waiting out the last few minutes, I thought how could this model get applied to other small companies? Before a plumber, electrician, HVAC, or chimney technician gets to work on a customer’s project, they might offer the customer a pamphlet describing a routine maintenance plan with an upfront fee. Or even something like a direct mail campaign. Readers of mine who are owners, do you offer something like this or, if not, how could this concept be applied in your company?

What constraints do you work within for your work and how do you manage them? Family, kids, pets, other work? Have they forced you to become more focused? Have you noticed benefits to having more restricted time windows to get work done?


Think Like an Owner Sponsors

Live Oak Bank – Live Oak Bank is a seasoned SBA lender focused on search funds, independent sponsors, private equity firms, and individuals looking to acquire small companies. Live Oak has closed billions of dollars in SBA financing and is actively looking to help more small company investors across the country. If you are in the process of acquiring a company or thinking about starting a search, contact Live Oak directly to start a conversation at liveoakbank.com/contactus.

Hood & Strong, LLP – Hood & Strong is a CPA firm with a long history of working with search funds and private equity firms on diligence, assurance, tax services, and more. Hood & Strong is highly skilled in working with search funds, providing quality of earnings and due diligence services during the search, along with assurance and tax services post-acquisition. They offer a unique way to approach acquisition diligence and manage costs effectively. To learn more about how Hood & Strong can help your search, acquisition, and beyond, please email one of their partners Jerry Zhou at [email protected]

Barrel – Barrel is a digital marketing agency that helps companies create revenue-generating websites, emails, and marketing campaigns. Clients include L’Oreal, ScottsMiracle-Gro, Barry’s, and SmartyPants Vitamins. Barrel has extensive experience working with venture capital and private equity firms to help audit, optimize, and grow their portfolio brands. To learn more about Barrel, visit barrelny.com/alex or email [email protected] and mention Think Like an Owner podcast.

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Capital Notes

  • Justin Vogt on Twitter pointed out a video panel recapping the 2020 Stanford Search Fund Study results with Will Thorndike, Coley Andrews, Sara Rosenthal, Peter Kelly, Simon Webster, and moderator Jan Simon. 

If you found an interesting article, podcast, or interview that I missed, please let me know, I’m always looking for interesting stuff.

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