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  • Paul Rutherford

FOUR WORDS : TOP LINE


It's the early 1960s. Mad Men era. A management consultant gets a meeting with the CEO of a large petrol company. The consultant says he has closely studied the efficiencies of the company’s distribution network, customer service and sales techniques. “I have a full-proof way of increasing your top line revenue by substantial amounts with no added cost to the business.” The CEO sits up. Trading has been down, his shareholders are not happy. This may save his head at the next AGM The consultant sets out his terms: "Two percentage points of any revenue increase.” Well, there’s no cost to the business, so the CEO agrees, and asks his secretary to cancel his meetings for the next two hours. He’s expecting the consultant to show him charts and reports and analysis. Instead, the consultant takes an envelope from his inside jacket pocket and places on the CEO’s desk. “Two percentage points?” asks the consultant. The CEO nods, and picks up the envelope. He opens it with the pearl-handled letter knife he was awarded for his 10-year service with the company. Inside is a small white card. Written on it are just four words: “Fill her up, sir?” Sometimes less can be so much more.

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