A-B + InBev + Miller + Coors = Change
It seems no matter what side of the fence you are on, significant change awaits. A-B distributors are anxiously waiting to see what happens next. And regardless of the results of the InBev offer, A-B will exit this process as a different company. It could be stronger… it could be weaker… that page is yet to be written. Miller and Coors distributors are experiencing the same. From forced exits (and forced purchases) for some, to a new contract for all, MillerCoors will also be a different company. Heck, significant change is hitting the wine and spirits folks too.
And that is the key word… no, not heck… but rather change. Here is some free advice for dealing with these realities.
1. We are not talking opinions here. We are not making moral statements. We are talking about cold, hard facts. And from my experiences and observing the world… choosing to ignore facts generally ends poorly.
2. As distributors, you have almost no power at all to influence these changes. They will be what they will be.
3. You don’t have to accept the changes but they will still happen. Therefore rather than fight (and complain) against things over which you have no power to influence, you should instead accept and embrace them. You have to deal with the realities you confront. This is not a philosophy… it is a fact.
4. Therefore the wisest course of action is to embrace change. Welcome it - it’s coming anyhow so you might as well ;-)
5. Grab change by the throat and take advantage of it… for with change, also comes opportunity. All change presents opportunity somewhere… every single time. The change – whatever it may be – is coming whether you like it or not – the only question is how you can use the change to your advantage.
6. Now I am not implying you will like all the change coming… so?! What does one’s liking have anything to do with it? Don’t think about change as whether you like it or not - especially if you can’t control it anyhow. Instead examine all change and potential change from both an offensive and defensive position.
a. Offensive – how can I take advantage of this? How can I make it work for me and my organization? Even if it requires a reexamination of the very foundations of your business.
b. Defensive – how can I minimize the pain this change is going to inflict? What steps can I take to protect myself and my organization?
Look at the landscape… I most definitely don’t have a dog in the InBev – A-B cage match, but assume it occurs. What opportunity for A-B distributors! There is incredible opportunity for consolidation of the A-B distributor network… position yourself to be the Southern Wine and Spirits of the A-B wholesaler network! If InBev wins, the game might change significantly on buying and selling distributors. Even if they don’t win, the game might change significantly. Take advantage of it!
If you’re a seller, you might see distributor values
actually going up… A-B has always historically worked pretty hard to keep
values low… and in most markets there are plenty of buyers… who if they are
thinking strategically will jump on the prospect. 10 or 20 years down the road no one will
remember what you paid, but the strategic moves you make now will determine
whether your company is viable entity 20 years out… whether long-term you are a
buyer or a seller.
Opportunity for all… if you have the vision and courage to grab it and make it yours.
As for MillerCoors, who knows what magic they have up their sleeves? A stronger, more efficient supplier will flow to their distributors. They will have more say in the buying and selling of “their” distributors… this isn’t good or bad… it simply is. What opportunity does it present to you?
Take the time to peer down the road and examine all potential futures. Have a plan for all of them and adjust as the future flows into the present. Might you be wrong? Of course. The difference between a good idea and a bad idea is almost always the future. Choice A might be great if the future turns out one way… the same exact choice might be terrible if the future turns out another. Do what you can do.
Analyze, plan, and set course… adjust as you receive additional feedback. That’s all you can do. But change is coming with a vengeance… don’t cower from it, make it yours.