Measuring value? Go beyond the 'box score'

As you put each expense under the microscope, do some extra critical thinking and understand the total value you’re getting in return for your check.

Some of the best benefits can be those that don’t appear on the invoice. Or, using a baseball analogy, some of the most crucial plays of the game can be those that don’t appear as statistics in the box score.

Some of the best value you may receive from the relationship goes beyond shop-floor capacity, line speeds, and logistics.

Case in point: A Canadian company was marketing an all-natural product that provides traction on icy surfaces. The company only had produced the product in 22-lb bags for a limited number of retailers. Other retailers began expressing interest in carrying the product, but only in much smaller bags.

That was in July 2008, and the interested retailers gave the company just 10 weeks’ lead-time to get the product on their shelves in time for the winter selling season. The product manufacturer’s timelines were pushed to the limit, but the company made the deadline, and introduced an innovative 5-lb bag to boot. The smaller bag offers functional improvements over its larger counterpart: It’s a stand-up pouch that contains a carrying handle and a pour spout.

How did the brand owner pull this off? An important turning point came when a contract packager matched the company with the right supplier. The supplier had just the right bag for the job and also introduced the product manufacturer to the spout option.

The contract packager was instrumental in making this project happen. How? This contract packager, and many others in the industry, frequently talk with retailers. As a result, they are intimately familiar with retailers’ evolving needs and preferences.

The lesson learned is that as you’re reviewing expenses and evaluating the true worth of your co-packers, remember to include those key contributions that don’t show up in the box score.

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