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The Importance of ‘The Last 10 Yards’

Last week I learned a new produce term, “the last 10 yards.”

One of my produce colleagues and I sit on the advisory board of a start-up produce company, and we were advising the owners about the ins and outs of the produce industry.

We were talking about how to get sales of their new product and how challenging it can be.

And that’s when my friend said, “It is all about the last 10 yards.”

Photo credit: Flickr/jayneandd

He was referring to the fact that you can sell your product or idea to the executive of a retail or foodservice company. But the sale is not complete until your product actually makes it from that executive, to the administrative assistant who makes sure it is listed in the order guide, the buyer who places the order, the sales rep who talks to the customer about it, out of the backroom of the store, and finally out on display at the store or onto a menu and then the plates of a restaurant meal.

“The last 10 yards” refers to your product moving from the backroom of a retail store onto the produce shelf, properly signed, priced, and cared for.

Most of us don’t even think of that. We just make the sale and cross our fingers that the rest happens flawlessly.

It got me thinking.

Where else in our lives does the importance of “the last 10 yards” show up?

• Calling to confirm that a package got delivered by “tracking a package” on the FedEx or UPS website;
• Confirming dinner reservations before you depart;
• Sending a confirmation email a couple of days before or on the morning of a meeting;
• After giving instructions, having the person repeat back what they heard to confirm their understanding; and
• Doing a run-through before an important meeting to make sure everyone knows their part.

And there are dozens of more personal examples of what that “last 10 yards” is and how important it can be.

So, next time you want to rush a project or are counting on someone else and doing a hand off (like in a relay race), make sure you’ve done everything you can to guarantee your success.

Your family, your clients, and your colleagues will thank you!


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