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Key Idea: Make Your Word As Good As Gold

Your reputation is your greatest asset. It is not surprising that Enrique said the most important lesson he learned from his father is that, "Your word is your bond." This video clip begins with a little lesson for making espresso coffee!

Key Question:

A: 

Mr. Souto taught his sons that their word is more valuable than gold.  This is his way of saying doing what you say you're going to do is a key building block to success in business.

As a business owner, you cannot hide. People know who you are. You make sales calls, you purchase equipment and determine how it will be used, you make the decisions that impact all aspects of the business. Even if you are not at the company every day or even if you have turned over the operation to professional leadership, you have to take responsibility for every thing that goes on in your company. In a big company, managers can place blame all over the place. Finger pointing is a favorite strategy because the decision process is complicated and often takes weeks or months. In a small company, an owner can lie about when she shipped a product. The customer can trace it with the shipping company and discover that the owner lied. Easy.

There's a straight line from the customer to the owner. In a big company, the person responsible for shipping can lie about a shipping date and when the customer calls the person can say, "I thought it was shipped on the date I told you. The people in shipping must have lost the product."

In a small business, there probably isn't a shipping department. It is the owner walking back to a place where an employee may be waiting to pack and ship things, but, the owner is fully aware of every step. As soon as an owner lies, his business is weakened. People do not want to do business with people they cannot trust. To grow a business and have it be profitable over decades your word must be your bond.

To work, capitalism must be based on morals and respect for the rule of law. There are general rules governing business then there are specific agreements you enter into with suppliers, employees and customers.

Q:  Can business work if everyone involved in a relationship is only working with a written contract.

A:  Probably not very well. Contracts and written agreements spelling out what each party is going to do are very useful and you need to take time to create written agreements and often you will need an attorney to assist you. However, as a relationship unfolds, many things are said and done that can not be captured in writing. All parties have to understand and embrace the spirit of the agreement and all must want the "deal" to work out in a win-win way. This is why you only want to enter into an agreement with people who have already demonstrated that they are trustworthy. You cannot make a person who lies and misrepresents information abide by some demand in a document. They will find a way to get out of it if it suits them.

Think about it

Do you do business with anyone you don't trust?
Do you have confidence and trust in your employees?
Do you have any employees who could damage your reputation?

Clip from: Cafe Pilon, Rowland Coffee & the Souto family

Meet the three Souto brothers; lovers of freedom.

Miami: In this episode, we open with pictures from 1961 just before Castro forced his ways into the homes and business of this family. And though he took over everything, he could not take over their spirit. This family left behind all their worldly possessions but came to the USA with their greatest possessions -- their integrity, their love of family and friends, their creativity, their love of Cuban espresso coffee, and the knowledge needed to rebuild their family business from scratch.

Meet the Souto family, owners of Rowland Coffee Roasters in Miami.  They started with a coffee delivery business, bought Rowland, then Cafe Pilon, then Cafe Bustelo,  Medaglia D'Oro Espresso, Java Cabana and more.

Go to all the key ideas and video of this episode...

In memory of José Angel ''Pepe'' Souto, the Patriarch of the family who died at the age of 91 on November 18, 2007.

Cafe Bustelo Inc.

Rowland Coffee Roasters, Inc. Javacabana.com, BusteloCool.com

5605 NW 82nd Ave
Miami, FL 33166-4000

Visit our web site: http://cafebustelo.com

Toll Free: 800-990-9039

Business Classification:
Beverages: Coffee

Year Founded: 1962

Make Your Word As Good As Gold

(But first, a little lesson on making espresso)

HATTIE: So how do I do this at home?

JOSE ALBERTO: This is very simple. All you do is you pour water in the bottom part of the machine and then the filter, of course, goes on top. And then you fill it up with Pilon espresso.

HATTIE: Of course.

JOSE ALBERTO: You just screw it on, put it on top of the stove top, and in five minutes, you're going to have a delicious coffee--espresso coffee.

HATTIE: And it comes out of here, right?

JOSE ALBERTO: It comes out of here. And in five minutes, you're going to have a delicious cup of coffee. Espresso coffee.

HATTIE: Low tech.

JOSE ALBERTO: Low-tech, easy.

Your word is key with Jose Alberto and Jose Enrique:

HATTIE: What could you say or tell people that you learned from your father that you're now using in business to make this an even more successful company than maybe he even dreamed? What did you learn from your father?

JOSE ALBERTO: Well, I'm going to say that the most important thing is honesty. I mean, this type of business it's--your word is very important. And when I say that is--for example, whenever I'm buying coffee, I might be calling, you know, some of the importers on the phone and I might be watching the market on the screen and say, `Well, this is a good time to buy. Let's put an order to buy so many bags.' Your word is very important because it might take a few days, even sometimes weeks, before we actually get a contract on those coffees that we are buying.

So the most important thing that I learned in this business is your word is critical.

HATTIE: Is everything.

JOSE ALBERTO: It's everything. And my father always told me that even if we do make a mistake when you buy, you bought it, that's it. Your word is so--I would say that's the most important thing.

JOSE ENRIQUE: My father, he's terrific. He's a man who, when he was in his 40s, came to a new country, did not speak the language yet he was able to go through a lot of work, a lot of hard work, didn't think about the past and he always had a very positive feeling about the future. The one thing that I feel is so important that I learned from him is his perseverance. I mean, I remember him in periods where things were tough -- you know, back in the late '60s -- middle '60s. The business was not growing. It didn't look like it was a very stable business. And as a matter of fact, some people might say this was a dying business because nobody knew what was going to happen in the next few years.

And my father always had the feeling and the idea that this was a great brand, that this was a great business that had a lot of potential, and that something great could be gotten out of it. And he was able to maintain that through the worst times. And, to me, that is something that very few people can do. And I hope that if I ever get into a position like that, I get it just a little closer to what he did. You know, just 10 percent of what he did. I'll be successful. Make sure that what you're going to get into, it's something that your heart and your mind is going to be into it. Because the first few years are going to be very difficult years. See, it doesn't make any difference what the business is. If you have that desire and -- then you'll develop -- even if you don't have it, you will develop the ability to go out and have it done.

HATTIE: So how do I do this at home?

Some words from the next generation:

(Voiceover) Now the third generation of Soutos put Cafe Pilon on the Internet. Anna and J.P. see the Web as an extension of the way their grandfather marketed his coffee originally.

ANNA: You know, he started out in the early '60s and he went door to door. He probably had about a couple hundred customers he would sell to door-to-door.

HATTIE: Right.

ANNA: My grandfather had his sons helping him out -- they were in college at the time. We think that the Internet in the next decade we could be serving 200 million people. You know, go to door-to-door, basically still the same concept but we're doing it through the computer.

J.P.: I think that every Internet user who buys my coffee once, they'll be back for more. Another cup.

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