Boeing is one of the world’s largest companies. Governments and airlines in 150 countries use its planes and other products. It netted $12 billion in 2018 and employs 153,000 people. According to the company, nearly half of the world’s active commercial jetliners are Boeing-made “and about 90 percent of the world’s cargo is carried onboard Boeing planes.”
But in 2019, two crashes caused a worldwide grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX. “Tens of thousands” of plane orders were put on hold, costing the company over $20 billion and putting it at a two billion dollar loss in 2019. Last week, after 20 months, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration gave initial approval to get the planes back in the air domestically, but this won’t happen for weeks or months. Meanwhile, international flights are still an open question, as is whether customers will feel safe in the planes.
Boeing’s 737 MAX debacle is an example of how great marketing, decades of relationships, and expensive production mean nothing if you can’t deliver what customers want most: in this case, safe flights.
Without delivery, nothing else matters
Without delivery, marketing is just bad advertising. Production is a waste of time and other scarce resources, and financial strategies are a waste of money.
This principle applies as much to a multi-national corporation like Boeing as it does to a small business. Let’s consider a restaurant that invests hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase the location, hire staff, buy food and other necessities, become licensed, and implement a marketing plan. The location is good, the website and menus look great, and tables are aplenty. But once you arrive, the lines are arduously long; once you get seated, the waiter is rude; and the food is terrible. And at the end, they get the check wrong.
Like Boeing, the restaurant did everything right – until it was time to deliver. The location and marketing didn’t matter because whether you wanted a relaxing night out or high-quality food, neither happened.
Delivery can be disrupted anywhere
Supply chain logistics are as critical to making dinner as they are to delivering planes. But your supply chain can be disrupted at any number of places. Earlier this year, billions of dollars of food products were destroyed or spoiled after schools, hotels, and restaurants closed down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. There were plenty of food and plenty of people to pick, pack, and ship the food – but no end consumers. Conversely, many people wanted beef for home consumption or for takeout, but illnesses in packing plants and other factors contributed to a six-week domestic shortage because there was plenty of meat but not enough mid-chain people to pack and ship it.
Wendy’s faced the meat shortage head-on, a task complicated by its promise to only serve fresh, never-frozen beef derived from ethically raised animals. The company worked with its supply chain partners to keep deliveries coming several days per week and shifted its marketing to chicken. Customers understood that there was a meat shortage and a pandemic, so that surely helped matters – but in the end, Wendy’s kept its brand strong by upholding its customer promises on key deliverables and redirecting where necessary. Its five-year stock value growth quickly rebounded after a pandemic-driven dive and Axios reported over the summer that it was trusted by three-quarters of Americans.
Delivery is profitable
Not delivering cost Boeing $20 billion — at least. Conversely, being able to deliver can reap huge profits. The Axios Summer 2020 consumer poll showed that America’s most trusted companies were rewarded for delivering during the pandemic:
- Number One Clorox kept our homes and cars clean and saw its stock value increase by more than 50 percent from a year ago.
- Number 3 Amazon kept us well-stocked, doubled its stock price, and turned Jeff Bezos into the world’s richest man.
- Numbers 4, 5, 6, 7, & 9 grocery stores kept us safe in public and well-fed at home.
- Number 17 Netflix’s stock price went up by more than 50 percent as it gave home-bound Americans needed mental health relaxation.
- Number 28 Zoom’s price increased eight-fold as they delivered huge by being resources for tens of millions of parents, students, and workers stuck at home.
Deliver every time
Without delivery, a restaurant is out of business, Boeing loses billions of dollars, and people won’t get their packages. But delivery can only happen with preparation and long-term planning. What are the core deliverables that you can provide without fail? What is your process to ensure success even during tough times? How will you inform your target markets of your core deliverables?
With the right preparation, you’ll deliver every time. When your competition stumbles, you’ll be there to pick up market share. When opportunities arise to expand, you’ll be able to do so without hesitation. And it’s all because you were prepared to deliver.