Home > Business > Waste Any Good Opportunities Lately?

Waste Any Good Opportunities Lately?


I recently was driven to look up the old saying ‘Waste Not, Want Not’ as I watched a perfectly good sandwich being tossed into a trash can.

Waiting patiently for my order at one of my favorite sandwich shops, I overheard the girl at the register exclaim that the requested toppings of the person in front of me did not include bacon. You could hear the word “stupid” in her tone although she never actually said that. I inserted a word describing her in my own head.

Now, I can see why they accidentally added bacon since everyone knows that it makes everything taste better. This isnʼt just my opinion – its nearly everyoneʼs. Even pigs will eat it. Donʼt jump on me for this, you know itʼs true. Otherwise products like artificial bacon bits or bacon turkey wouldnʼt exist. They do. Ten people a year even buy the stuff.

What I donʼt understand is what happened next. Without even a slight hesitation the sandwich was hurled into a garbage can rendering it worthless. Hurled with such precision that a keen eye would quickly distinguish that this was not the sandwich artisans first day on the court!.mmmmm Bacon In fact, his demonstrated talent almost sucked me in and I almost understood why people appreciate track and field sports. Almost. Anyway… heʼd done it before.

Maybe they were hiding their mistake or maybe its some rule that if you have a mistake you have to start over and waste a perfectly good sandwich. Or maybe no one has ever asked why and they just keep doing it because theyʼve always done it that way.

The point is that this shop manager and his team just sees a sandwich. Many of us would see an opportunity.

Immediately, I made some un-identifiable guttural sound. A sound that I donʼt think I could make again. Then I asked the girl at the register why they wasted that food! “Youʼre just going to throw it away?” I asked as if they hadnʼt already done so. She just shrugged and the guy that tossed it asked if I wanted it now! I then inserted another word in my head describing my assessment of him… These two didnʼt see the opportunity either.

If youʼre like me, right away you have already come up with a few ideas. Why not offer it to the person along with their order or to the customer that was waiting the longest? How about cutting it up into small parts and the manager could walk it out to the people waiting for their food as a sample and ask them if they like it? They might all order bacon. Maybe the staff could take it home for dinner… well maybe that would start an increase in “mistakes” but you get the point. Waste not, want not.

You see where I am going here. Youʼre in business in a tough economy with fierce competition and You have to think: You must be lean. You must learn from your customers. You donʼt waste opportunities. Yeah, but we get busy and forget to do the simplest things we preach. I know I forget these simple things. Oh no! Here comes the self doubt…I started recognizing some lost opportunities!Burning Money

How is a stupid sandwich and a patrons hatred of bacon relevant to our industry? Itʼs not. This incident did however get me to ask what opportunities am I throwing away? Is my organization the same as the sandwich shop? Are we no different than the manager and his team? I started asking myself and you might ask yourself.

  • When are we NOT providing a benefit to our loyal customers when it wouldnʼt even cost a dime?
  • When are we NOT sharing information and asking for feedback. A little insight for no cost to make everyone’s experience better? Hmmm, why not?
  • When are we NOT thinking of our own team so we can secure long-term talent, improving our product and service through experience? What about just making our working environments all that much better?

Thatʼs a lot of questions but the bottom line stands clear. Many opportunities are directly under our nose, cost nothing and are being thrown away. Some opportunities also smell like bacon.

Thanks for wasting your time reading about my lunch.

Gary Camarato
Creative Director | Optima Graphics

ps – Hereʼs what I found on line at dictionary.com and who gets the credit for it…
Idioms & Phrases
“waste not, want not”
Wise use of one’s resources will keep one from poverty. For example, I just hate to throw out good food waste not, want not . This proverbial saying was first recorded in 1772 but had an earlier, even more alliterative version, willful
waste makes woeful want (1576).

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.

Categories: Business
  1. Rafael Gomez
    August 26, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    “She just shrugged and the guy that tossed it asked if I wanted it now!” I would have punched that guy in the neck.

    Good points to ponder in this post Gary. Staying alert in all aspects of life separates the doers and the don’t-doers.

    Don’t not be a doer. 🙂

  2. August 26, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Does this mean from now on you will take all misprinted or faulty graphic items and turn them into Free Vendor Demo Units instead of throwing them away? I’d like that idea 🙂

  3. August 26, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    I just returned from a trip to the Twin Cities and attended the first day of the MN State Fair while I was there.

    Since everything now comes on a stick at a state fair, it only makes sense there was chocolate covered bacon on a stick. The line was really, really long.

    I guess that’s better than Hotdish on a Stick, which I also saw. Or Salad on a Stick, which I still don’t understand.

  4. August 29, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Great post Gary! It’s good to remember that opportunities await in places we tend to dismiss. I’d be trying to catch that sandwich before it went into the trash!

  5. Wags
    August 31, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    Don’t be wasting my time because you’re good alright!

  6. Sophi Jo
    September 2, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    Awesome!!!!!! i ❤ bacon

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