"You know, we're 'steering by averages.'" - Me, to my dad
"We used to do something called 'dead reckoning.' We would look at where the stars were positioned in relation to our plane, and triangulate our position... but, of course, we were in planes going 500 miles per hour." - Dad
"That sounds stressful. It also sounds like what I'm doing." - Me
Side note: My dad was a huge fan of Shit My Dad Says, so this is going to delight him. He always wanted me to start a Twitter account quoting him... and this'll have to do.
From what I can glean from a nice conversation with my dad, dead reckoning is the process of triangulating your position based on the position of stars. When you think you know where you are based on the position of the stars, you mark that on the map in a little circle. When you reach a point where you are sure where you are (like a lighthouse), you draw a triangle.
(I might have those reversed, but we're dead reckoning this dead reckoning conversation).
We at Outlaw do not always know where we are with a great degree of certainty. Just yesterday, I was submitting solid cologne forecasts to our friends in Vancouver, Washington so they could send us next quarter's inventory, and honesty, I had a really impossible time forecasting.
January of last year was our biggest month to that point (including all Christmas sales and everything). Historically, we have looked at January as our time to rest and regroup, but this year's January knocked our socks off... and it just kept going after that. So... where the heck are we?
Do I forecast solid colognes based on 5x growth like this year's growth? That seems ludicrous. But at the same time, if we fail to stock up on inventory, we risk doing what we've been doing this whole year: struggling to keep inventory as our sales went off the rails.
So how should we mark out our growth trajectory? Dead reckoning seems like as good a measure as any.
This year, Outlaw has grown a lot.
One thing that our Outlaw customers say when they think our of growth is, "Don't get too big! We love that you're small!" And my commitment to you is that as long as Russ and I are in charge, we'll never get too big to appreciate our own gang.
At times in the last few years, our sales growth has sometimes made our company worse. We got less responsive to email and Facebook comments, our orders go out later and later, and we run out of products.
But now, when we grow, we add to our team so that we can always make time for you. This year, we added 3 people to the customer satisfaction team, including Bobby, our dedicated Customer Satisfaction Manager (aka "The Fixer").
This morning, I had a casual meeting with a candidate for our new Operations Manager position in Reno. I explained that we have stock shortages, but that through all this, we have always done the best we can. We're not perfect, but so far, we're sufficient.
We have always appreciated that you, our friends, family, and gang members, have been supportive of our sufficiency, even when we're not perfect.
It's hard to know the right next move, but through dead reckoning, I think we can make sense of our direction, even if we're going 500 miles per hour.
Thank you for being on this screamin' jet with us.