End of Another Year

Volume 139, No. 30, ,January 16, 2015

The end of another year has come, and for many 2014 was a challenging one, I know it was for me. On the cusp of the year to come, I will indulge myself in the pleasure of punditry and share with you some predictions.

And, I’ll start with the good: after a few years of the government pouring $85 billion a month into the economy, Wall Street is happy. That means, according to the mainstream media, we’re out of a recession and onto better days.
And for the next year, 2015, that is probably so. Whether or not the bottom will fall out again, as predicted by some very serious people, will depend on whether we’re truly out of recession, and the fundamental problems that brought about that recession have been addressed, or whether we just covered them over with $85 billion a month of window dressing.

But the fundamental problem of a lack of a natural inflationary cycle due to outsourcing, and the recent scandals in international banking, yet again, should have us worried. So, my advice for the next year is to prepare. Lower your exposure, your debt position, focus on improving your operations to become more effective, and more profitable, with fewer resources, and guard what cash you can, so if the depression of 2016 that has been predicted actually happens you will be in the
strongest possible position.

The good news is many companies do well in a depression, if they’re not carrying debt, have some cash, and are already running on bare-bones efficiency. After 30 years of no effective inflation, chances are when it hits it will be a doozy. And in the wavelike pattern of a normal business cycle, what goes up will come down. If the country, and the world are extremely unlucky and careless, then inflation will be followed by deflation, as it was in the 1930s. But the upside to deflation is if you’re not in debt and you have money you can buy things for pretty cheap.

So if your pockets are once again flush, and the media keeps talking about how much better the economy is doing to the point that you’re tempted, now is not the time for big investments. Now is the time to consolidate what you earned, eliminate your debts, and get really good at what you do.

There are a couple of books about this dire prediction of depression, the one I recommend is “The Depression of 2016” by Rafael Aguayo. It’s a great read.

And, to help get you on the right track, I want to share these insights from our friends in merry old England I garnered at an American Cheese Society conference.

Taste,Taste, Taste Again

At the American Cheese Society, I listened intently to Edward Appleby, a traditional Cheshire cheese maker, and David Lockwood of Neal’s Yard Dairy, in England, explain how they select young cheeses for aging. Common sense suggests selecting is something important, but to my knowledge, few US cheese makers are doing it.

Edward Appleby’s key points

• As you taste, or “grade” your cheese, rub a piece in your fingers to mush it so you can feel the moisture content, then smell it, then place it in your mouth.
• Taste repeatedly and keep reliable records on your evaluation of appearance, aroma, texture and flavor, using a simple ranking system.
• Include production codes or dates so you can refer back and learn later.
• Look for cheeses that develop in a balanced way as candidates for aging.
• If sour or other tastes start to develop early, sell it young. Too early development can lead to bitterness with age.

David Lockwood’s points

• Pay attention to the moment of tasting, have few distractions, categorize your experience, and remember, cheese tastes different every day.
• Use your notes as a learning tool. When you taste a great version, go back and study the make sheets and tasting notes.
• Continuously talk with your customers. Learn what people like about your cheese when it is good. Apply those values to your criteria for tasting.
• Involve the public in the process at demos and at the creamery.

How many times and when should you taste each batch? I can’t tell you. Only you can find out by tasting, tasting and tasting again. Sell the cheese young that develops fast and save the more balanced for aging long.

Customers will thank you by buying more: more young as it has more flavor, more aged as it too has more and the right flavor! There is not better marketing than great taste. DS

Dan Strongin runs a training and consulting company focused on delivering affordable online solutions to everyday business problems, including his udemy course: Understand Your Business, Earn More Money. Dan can be reached via email at dan@danstrongin.com or by phone at (408) 512-1086, or you can visit and blog or get discounts on his courses on his site: http://www.managenaturally.com.

Dan Strongin encourages your comments regarding this column. Comments can be made anonymously to columnists@cheesereporter.com.


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dot Is Dairy Safe Is The Wrong Question, Part 1
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dot Learning About Your Customer
dot The Vision Thing
dot Customer Service? NOT!
dot Collaboration: The Road To A Better Future
dot Resolution
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dot In Memoriam: Ignazio Vella 1928-2011
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dot In Their Own Words: Lettie Kilmoyer
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dot Show Me the Money: Cost Accounting
dot Cost Accounting Chokes, Part 2: Inventory

dot Cost Accounting Is Choking Your Business, Part 1
dot It Ain’t Over ‘til It’s Over
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dot A Story For The Holiday Season, Part II
dot A Story For The Holiday Season
dot Truth In Labeling
dot This Too Shall Pass or "What were we thinking?"
dot Marketing Language That Resonates
dot When Will We Ever Learn?
dot Cheese Competitions In The Context Of Marketing

dot Economy
dot Even The Best Laid Plans Go Astray
dot Root Causes: Communication
dot Partners
dot Diamond Cutting:
It's What You Don't Know That Can Hurt You
dot Integrity and Ethics
dot Pricing:  The Perceived Value
Designing the Effective Sell Sheet
Common Sense
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As Our Industry Evolves, So Should Our Terminology:

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