My dad was a landscaper. He taught me how to put in a new lawn, plant trees, and build retaining walls. I learned a lot from him.
When he taught me to prune trees or shrubs he used the words “judicious pruning”. This meant cutting back parts of the tree so that the rest of it could grow fully and properly. With a few deft snips of his clippers he would turn a raggedy looking forsythia into a beautiful work of art. That was judicious pruning.
This is a concept we can apply when managing our product portfolio.
Success isn’t always measured by what new brand we bring in, but what products we should trim back. Sometimes what is most important is finding what we can prune back to help the rest of the inventory and our organization to flourish.
Beer distributors have to make tough decisions every day about what products to carry. The market is evolving, and consumer preferences seem to change weekly. It is difficult to build and maintain a portfolio that satisfies the changing demands of the market without burying distributors in excess, slow moving inventory.
In his book Rework, author Jason Fried says “You don’t make a great museum by putting all the art in the world into a single room. What makes a great museum is the stuff that’s not on the walls.”
Curators follow the principle of judicious pruning, as well. Sometimes the most important decision is what not to include.
The story of the Zingerman’s business model illustrates this point further. At Zingerman’s they don’t just fill the shelves they curate them. There’s a reason that every olive oil is in their portfolio – they believe each one is great. You can use this idea with your portfolio – is there a reason why you have the brands that you do? Does the brand deserve to be there? Not for you, but for the customer. The customer expects the best from you, and when you’re a curator it ensures you can deliver.
You too can apply the concept of judicious pruning to your business, and your product portfolio. Prune back areas of your portfolio to allow the rest of your offerings to grow and flourish. Be a curator. Follow the lead of Zingerman’s and insist that every brand in your warehouse deserves to be there.
Want to do some judicious pruning in your inventory portfolio? Download the free SKU Deletion Guide below.
P.S. That picture above isn’t my dad, it’s just some guy with crazy long eyebrows. He could use some judicious pruning, too.