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Last Update: Tuesday August 20, 2019

Key Idea: Use Technology to Buy Right

Owner Lupe Fraga works hard to control inventory by using sophisticated technology and the advice of colleagues who mentor him. More...

Key Question:

A: 

The right customer records will tell you what to buy.  From the beginning, Lupe kept detail records, by customer, of what his customers were buying. Today, those records, first kept on columnar paper, are computerized.  Tejas Office Products has virtually instant access to any customer's historical purchasing activity.

Q:
What's the value of maintaining such detailed records? That's a lot of effort. Is it worth it?

A:
You bet! It costs money to keep inventory on hand. Besides the warehousing and custodial costs, there's the financing cost either with a bank in a line of credit arrangement or the cost of tying up your own money in inventory. With his inventory records, Lupe could see his highest level of purchase activity. His highest purchases were the items with the highest sales volume. The most popular products were the ones he focused on.

But wait! There's more! Lupe uses his inventory records as a marketing tool! He empowers his sales force with the purchasing histories of their customers. And the sales people share this information with their customers and offer them advice and counsel on how to meet their office supply needs more cost effectively. From the customer's point of view, Tejas Office Products is not just selling office supplies; they are providing office management consulting services.

Q: 
What would be the reaction of a customer advised by a sales person to buy a product with a lower price?

A:
Is there a better way to ensure customer loyalty? As Lupe says, "We may sell $10 less of paper but…" The Tejas Office Products sales person is part of the customer's team, and a valued member at that. It will be very difficult for Lupe's competitors to top that.

Think about it

How are you using data to better serve your customer?

Clip from: Tejas Office Supply is all Texan.

Houston: Texans are resilient and resourceful, and people of deep faith.  When Hurricane Ike struck, they began turning to each other to  pull through thiat  storm together.  Pictured above is Lupe Fraga.  He came with his family to Houston as a young boy and grew up as a Texan.

He captures the spirit of this part of the world.

In 1962 Lupe Fraga left his bookkeeping job to buy an office supply business but steady profits did not come quickly. Today, over 150 employees turn $40 million a year making Tejas Office one of the largest minority - owned businesses in the greater Houston area.
 
He borrowed some of the start-up capital from Irene, his girl friend; and, the owner financed the purchase. He married Irene -- "the best thing I ever did in my life" -- and then he learned  profits do not come easily.

This is a family business. Michelle is their first born; and the day we met her, she was busy teaching a new manager and leading a customer service training session. Alisa, the middle child, handles human resources and says that caring can be measured on the bottomline.  Stephen, the youngest Fraga says that they all wear many hats. Stephen followed in his father's footsteps and graduated from Texas A & M. Rather than coming to work at Tejas Office right from school, Lupe encouraged him to work for a large company which he did for two years before joining Tejas in 1998.

Named by Governor Rick Perry to the Texas A&M Board of Regents and currently Chairman of the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank Dallas-Houston, Lupe also volunteers for the Greater Houston Partnership and The United Way.

Tejas Office

Lupe Fraga, Owner

1225 W. 20th Street
Houston, TX 77080
7138646004

Visit our web site: http://www.tejasoffice.com

Office: 7138646004

Business Classification:
Office Supplies

Year Founded: 1961

Use Technology to Buy Right

HATTIE: How do you know what to stock? See, again, you're--all these dollars tied up in this inventory, and what if you make a mistake and how do you know what to stock?

LUPE: That's the deal, and that is a secret really, HATTIE.

HATTIE: You won't tell me? It's a secret?

LUPE: No, no, no, no. That's a secret. No, no. I will tell you. But really it's not that complicated. You really go by what people are buying, you know? And we have these reports that we can run daily, again, without technology we would know what we have now. Before we had the technology, you had--all this was hand-posted on columnar pads. But now, really, we're able to get instant reports We can tell customers exactly what they bought for the last month, last year, last six years, whatever.

HATTIE: You could tell me how much I spent on pencils?

LUPE: Exactly.

HATTIE: ...and how much I spent on paper clips and how much I spent on pads and how much I...

LUPE: And you know what? That is the big selling point as far as marketing to our customers. When we go in there and we give them these reports and we tell them how they're spending their money, they love it because, again, our competitors, can't do this.

HATTIE: They don't do that.

LUPE: They don't do that. You're not going in there just to get an order. You really suggest to these customers, `Look, if you buy this binder instead of this one, it's $2 cheaper,' or whatever, you know... .or, `Use these indexes instead of the ones you're using now.' The people have told me--he says, `You're just like one of our employees. I mean, you're here all the time. You're helping us. You know, you're helping us with our costs and so forth.' So that's what you want to do. You want to portray the idea, the feeling that you're on their side.

 
 

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