Leaving Money on the Table

leave (something) on the table v. phr. to refrain from taking the utmost advantage of something; to not address every aspect of a situation; in the form leave money on the table... (source: Double-Tongued Dictionary

I frequented Foodco supermarket when growing up in Ibadan because it was close to my dad’s old office which made it accessible and convenient for grocery shopping. I went to Foodco during my recent trip to Nigeria. The supermarket had moved a stone’s throw down the road from it’s original site. The moment I walked into the new Foodco, I immediately felt claustrophobic. All the retail items were squeezed into a small confined space. Add about 15 shoppers, 7 shopping attendants and 2 security guards to the equation and I was surprised that no one fainted while I was there.

The two male security guards had their eyes on the shoppers as we shuffled around the supermarket trying to avoid knocking down items. It was that tight. These men were hoping to catch us in the act. Every shopper is a suspected thief until they exit the shop with their shopping and a receipt.

Foodco has a fast food building adjacent their cramped supermarket. I popped in to get a meat pie and a doughnut and found that there were more empty seats than customers. I bought my desired pastries and I left confused.  Foodco’s cash cow is their supermarket hence the decision to use the building beside the supermarket as a fast food place is baffling.

Within a 400 metres radius of Foodco’s fast food building are three specialist fast food shops: Tantalisers, Mr Biggs, and KFC. All have more space, better quality fast food and are better known brands. You don’t need a Harvard Business School degree to deduce that Foodco’s current management strategy isn’t maximising their supermarket’s profitability.

The decision to compete with these three fast food shops to the detriment of the supermarket business that is screaming for more space is puzzling. The sensible move for Foodco should be to get out of the fast food business, break the walls separating the fast food shop and the supermarket to enlarge the supermarket. This provides more space for shoppers and items. Why bother to compete in a crowded fast food marketplace where you are the smallest player in the field at the expense of the retail marketplace where you own the turf? Why invest in your weakness when you can build on your strength? Why leave money on the table?

4 Comments

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4 Responses to Leaving Money on the Table

  1. ayo

    Awesome logic ….small wonder I haven’t felt like going back to foodco either. Could their failings to organize better be a result of management being sentiment based rather than knowledge based? In a culture where right is might and thinking is frowned upon, such gaffes may not be uncommon…

  2. Tosin

    You caught my attention with this quote; “Why invest in your weakness when you can build on your strength?” – thank you

    There’s an article crying to be written about just on that quote please.

    Kind Regards
    Tosin

  3. Ogechi

    Hey Prof…Welcome back! Thanks for this insight on your trip. I also enjoyed imagining what you saw and felt after all these years away.

    I feel like one of the issues still brewing in Nigeria is how people can get so stuck in their ways that they become blind and even very resistant to potential opportunities for change. Oh, and there’s this incessant competitiveness that doesn’t make sense…cats vs lions, ie big businesses vs corner shops.

    And ya, I also don’t get why folks continue to build on their weaknesses when there are strengths to build on…
    I will also look forward to your article that will expand on that thought.

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