This was a story for the Pakistan charity delivered to the winning bidder, Peetsden, last year. I think it is great that she donated to a worthy cause. I posted this on LiveJournal previously.
Irv Ravitz is the bane of Miranda's existence and constantly harping on costs. Sooo... Miranda is trapped (given the Paris incident) with holding down costs on the all important September Issue - her hallmark for the year. Irv hires a publishing consultant (one without any publishing experience in fashion and seemingly without any interest in fashion) and in walks Andy to Miranda's world. Hear Miranda gnashing her teeth. Andy's mission - hold costs down at all costs (no pun intended). Bonus points if Irv gets his in the end.
Thanks to quiethearted, akasarahsmom (GinStan), and the thefutilitarian for helping me with the plot points. Their suggestions helped immensely.
Betas: quiethearted, sheknowsnofear, shesgottaread whipped this story into shape. I am extremely thankful that they were willing to review this story and provide feedback/guidance/protection against totally embarrassing myself with silly errors. So, I tip my hat to them.
Disclaimer: I do not own anyone in this story and am not profiting in any way. I also do not own a Porsche Boxster Spyder roadster (pity, I know).
Author's Notes: This is AU in that Andy never worked for Miranda, she is several years older (I'm thinking late 20's), and she has some fashion sense. Oh, also, the story takes place after Paris (as well as after Irv's attempt to dethrone our Queen of Fashion).
How it all started
"I'm sure you are wondering why I called a meeting this early on a Monday morning, so let me get to the point." A short, portly gentleman with receding hairline, double chin, and wiry eyeglasses perched on his nose, Irv Ravitz, CEO of Elias-Clarke Publishing stood at the front end of the conference room while the administrators, editors, and managerial staff for the various Elias-Clarke publications sat silently. "I realize that I sound like a broken record about the budgetary constraints, but the numbers don't lie. The economy has hit everyone hard, and we have not escaped its wrath. Revenue is down—"
"Really, Irving, we are hardly in the red. Your flair for the dramatic never ceases to amaze me," Miranda drawled as several of the Runway department heads smiled wryly.
Miranda and Irv's disagreements were legendary. She always got her way, though, simply because Runway was, by far, the most profitable of all the Elias-Clarke publications. In fact, it remained one of the most profitable publications in the world, thanks mostly to Miranda's firm hand at the helm.
"If you take a look at page three where the budget detail itemizing our profit and loss figures for the last five years are and compare them to the results for this quarter's figures, you will clearly see that we have lost money in the advertising and sales sections, although our costs have not reduced to balance out such losses," Irv continued in an even voice while flipping through the packet his assistant had disseminated to everyone when they had arrived at the meeting.
Nigel Kipling raised his hand politely. At Irv's nod, Miranda's right-hand man said, "I notice page seven reflects that Runway is still in the number one spot against our competitors by a long shot. We are grossing nearly twenty percent more than everyone else. That's the best lead we've had in years. Although revenue's down, it is obviously much worse at the other publications."
"True. That's a very good point, Nigel. Miranda's leadership as Runway's Editor-in-Chief has undeniably placed us at the front of the pack. However, I am not concerned with the other publications' cash flow. With less advertising and sales down, we must spend less. It's that simple." Irv stared at Miranda. "To that end, Elias-Clarke has hired a publishing consultant firm, Spring & Company, to determine where we can cut corners, stream-line production, and best utilize our staff." Irv swung one arm toward the door as it opened to admit several individuals. "Ah, yes, come in, come in."
Two men and three women crowded next to Irv, calmly looking about the room. Miranda seemed indifferent, yet her eyes blazed. Nigel shifted in his seat while his gaze leapt from person to person in a ceaseless loop. The other department heads fidgeted.
"This is Tom Spring and his associates. They are here to assess Runway and our other magazines for the next three weeks. Then, they will present us with a business plan focusing on how we can best use our resources while cutting unnecessary costs. Tom, why don't you provide us with more details." Irv sat down, a small smirk evident as he glanced at Miranda.
"Good morning, everyone," Tom began. He wore an ill-fitting, mismatched blazer which bulged in the back and pin-striped slacks—obviously part of a business suit—with a stark white shirt that washed out his face. "We are looking forward to finding ways to help you capitalize on your talent, time, and workforce without wasting money. To that end throughout the next three weeks, my associates and I shall be observing how your organization runs. Some of the changes we suggest we will be able to implement immediately, while others will take time, effort, and planning. All our suggestions will be submitted in writing. After this week, we will provide a preliminary report of the changes that can be implemented immediately. At the end of the three weeks, we will provide another report encompassing more significant changes. Finally, we will provide support and reevaluations every month for six months."
Tom introduced his associates, mentioning where each person would be observing. Miranda took special interest in the brunette assigned to Runway.
"We will be assessing your strengths and weaknesses, identifying problem areas, and indicating likely solutions by reviewing the structure of your organization, the quality of staffing, your financial resources, market position, and the processes used to produce an issue." Tom paused, looking around the table. No one seemed thrilled. "I know that you may feel we are invading your turf, telling you what to do when we are not a part of your company. However, you need an objective, unbiased third-party. Our only agenda is to strengthen you, to help you become more profitable."
Irv stood up. "I expect all of you to cooperate fully." He stared hard at Miranda, who stared back just as forcefully. With a wave of his hand and a smirk, Irv said, "That's all." All cringed as Miranda's signature words were used against her.