Price Differentiation


A common response during slow demand is to discount the price of the service. This strategy relies on basic economics of supply and demand. To be effective, however, a price differentiation strategy depends on solid understanding of customer price sensitivity and demand curves.

Heave use of price differentiation to smooth demand can be a risky strategy. Over –reliance on price can result in price wars in any industry where eventually all competitors suffer. Price wars are well known in the airline industry, where total industry profits suffered as a result of airlines simultaneously trying to attract customers through price discounting.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Managerial Know-how


People who bring capital, labor, and resources together to fashion them into a productive organization that must face the risks of an uncertain world, occupy strategic positions. Thus, given the same inputs, presumably a country with superior management will do better than one with weak management. The importance of managerial know-how can be illustrated by the airlines industry.

Obviously an explanation of world business involves many elements. But with a basic understanding of the few elements, comparative advantage and specialization.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Market Survey


Stated most simply, the objective of a market survey is to determine a reasonably attainable sales volume in a specific market area for a specific type of business. This means finding out how many potential consumers of the planned merchandise or service there are in this market and how many of them can reasonably be expected to become customers of the firm under consideration.

The thoroughness of a market survey will vary under different conditions. The survey is essential for stores that plan to develop much of their own customer traffic. If sales are to depend on the firm’s merchandising policies, sales promotion efforts, special services, or uniqueness, a particularly thorough market survey should be made in advance. Firms that plan to rely on the established customer flow already generated by other businesses in the area may follow less thorough procedures. The latter types of firms have often been described as “parasite stores,” meaning that their location has been dictated by the existing firms in the area that have attracted a substantial traffic flow and which the new firm will tap for its own sales. Examples of small firms in this category are a restaurant in a skyscraper lobby, a medium-priced dress shop next to a large department store, an office-building tobacco shop, or a drugstore in an airline terminal. In these cases, the amount and nature of the traffic and its sales potential are pretty well established. Such firms may still, however, exert various types of sales promotion activities to increase total income within the traffic.

The chief concern here is with the types of firms that may rely heavily on a market survey to help them build much of their customer traffic.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Value Chain Analysis


The term value chain describes a way of looking at a business as a chain of activities that transform inputs into outputs that customers value. Customer value derives from three basic sources: activities that differentiate the product, activities that lower its cost, and activities that meet the customer’s need quickly. Value chain analysis (VAC) attempts to understand how a business creates customer value by examining the contributions of different activities within the business to that value.

VCA takes a process point of view: it divides (sometimes called disaggregates) the business into sets of activities that occur within the business, starting with the inputs a firm receives and finishing with the firm’s products (or services) and after-sales service to customers. VCA attempts to look at its costs across the series of activities the business performs to determine where low-cost advantages or cost disadvantages exist. It looks at the attributes of each of these different activities to determine in what ways each activity that occurs between purchasing inputs and after-sales service helps differentiate the company’s products and services. Proponents of VCA believe it allows managers to better identify their firm’s strengths and weaknesses by looking at the business as a process—a chain of activities—of what actually happens in the business rather than simply looking at it based on arbitrary organizational dividing lines or historical accounting protocol.

Judgment is required across individual firms and different industries because what may be seen as a support activity in one firm or industry may be a primary activity in another. Computer operations might typically be seen as infrastructure support, for example, but may be seen as a primary activity in airlines, newspapers, or banks.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Oligopoly


An oligopoly exists when there are very few businesses selling a product. In an oligopoly, individual businesses have control over their products’ price because each business supplies a large portion of the products sold in the marketplace. Nonetheless, the prices charged by different firms stay fairly close because a price cut or increase by one company will trigger a similar response from another company. In the airline industry, for example, when one airline cuts fares to boost sales, other airlines quickly follow with rate decreases to remain competitive. Oligopolies exist when it is expensive for new firms to enter the marketplace. Not just anyone can acquire enough financial capital to build an automobile production facility or purchase enough airplanes and related resources to build an airline.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Sensible Approach to Strategic Planning


You can design strategies in many ways—usually involving a mixture of analysis, reasoning, experience and intuition. One approach looks at the organization’s strengths and weaknesses in relation to its competitors. If most of your competitors are making low quality products, a good strategy is to make the best products available. Supermarket chains are building very large, out of town stores—so small, convenient, local stores; many airlines compete with cheap, no-frills services.

There are many ways to approach strategic planning. The key to successful planning is to get the best fit between the chosen tools and techniques, the organization’s current culture, capabilities and business environment and the desired outcome. One useful approach has the following steps:

  1. Analyze your organization’s mission and other strategic plans, to find the context and overall aims of this strategy.
  2. Set goals to show the results that this strategy must achieve.
  3. Analyze your existing strategies, finding their aims, seeing how well these are being achieved and looking for improvements.
  4. Analyze the environment in which your organization works, giving the competitors, their performance, customers, products and etc.
  5. Find the factors that will lead to success in this environment, and the importance of each; emphasize the products needed to compete effectively.
  6. Describe the approach that will best achieve success; emphasize the process that can best deliver your products.
  7. Design the best organizational support, including structure, controls and related functions.
  8. Define measures to compare actual performance with planned, optimal and competitors’ performances.
  9. Implement the plans, setting the aims and conditions for other levels of decisions.
  10. Monitor actual performance and continuously look for improvements.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Transaction-based Marketing Vs. Relationship Marketing


As marketing has entered the 21st Century, a significant change is taking place in the way companies interact with customers. The traditional view of marketing as a simple exchange process—a concept that might be termed transaction-based marketing—is being replaced by a different, longer-term approach.

Traditional marketing strategies focused on attracting consumers. The goal was to identify prospects, convert them to customers, and complete sales transactions. But today’s marketers realize that, although it remains important, attracting new customers is truly an intermediate step in the marketing process. Marketing efforts must focus on establishing and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships with existing customers. These efforts must expand to include suppliers and employees, as well.

The concept, called relationship marketing, refers to the development, growth, and maintenance of long-term, cost-effective exchange relationships with individual customers, suppliers, employees, and other partners for mutual benefits. It broaches the scope of external marketing relationships to include suppliers, customers, and referral sources. In relationship marketing, the term customer takes on a new meaning. Employees serve customers within an organization as well as outside it; individual employees and their departments are customers of and suppliers to one another. They must apply the same high standards of customer satisfaction to inter-departmental relationships as they do to external customer relationships. Relationship marketing recognizes the critical importance of internal marketing to the success of external marketing plans. Programs that improve customer service inside a company also raise productivity and staff morale, resulting in better customer relationships outside the firm.

Relationship marketing gives a company new opportunities to gain a competitive edge by moving customers up a loyalty hierarchy from new customers to regular purchasers, then to loyal supporters of the company and its goods and services, and finally to advocates who not only buy the  company’s products but recommend them to others. by converting indifferent customers into loyal ones, companies generate repeat sales. The cost of maintaining existing customers is far below the cost of finding new ones, and these loyal customers are profitable ones.

Effective relationship marketing relies heavily on information technologies such as computer databases that record customers’ tastes, price preferences, and lifestyles alongwith the increase of electronic communications. This technology helps companies become one-to-one marketers that gather customer-specific information and provide individually customized goods and services. The firms target their marketing programs to appropriate groups, rather than relying on mass-marketing campaigns. Companies who study their customers’ preferences and react accordingly gain distinct competitive advantages.

Firms in service industry, from retailers to hotels to airlines, are among the leaders in relationship marketing. Their staff members have many opportunities to meet customers personally and build loyalty and repeat business. Rewards for frequent buyers of a firm’s goods or services, such as hotel programs that reward frequent visitors with free room stays and other travel documents, are another form of relationship marketing.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Good Management


Good planning and good management are probably the best protection against most of the other risks. Price fluctuations of any normal retail inventory may be upward or downward. Good management will keep itself informed of price trends. Study of population trends and business activity will warn merchants early if their location is losing its value. Good accounting records and study of operations against a budget will warn of any developing adverse trends.

 To handle the risks of dishonest employees, good management will provide devices such as internal security guards and signal systems for detecting pilferers. A reputation for prosecuting pilferers and training all employees to be alert to the problem will help to reduce pilferage. Tags in merchandise which act of alarms at the entrance unless removed by the sales person are now common. These methods are often expensive but necessary. Personnel policies will provide means of checking employees whose honesty is questioned. Inspection of employees of checkout time is being used by manufacturing firms, some airlines, and other type of firms. It is recommended for wholsalers and retailers when losses in this area are deemed a high risk. Fidelty bonds may be purchased to protect the firm from losses by dishonest employees.

 The risk of financial hardship can best be coped with by proper financial planning and financial management. This common risk has caused the downfall of many firms which otherwise had a most profitable future. Over and above good planning along the lines, watching the key financial ratios in the financial statements, the cash adequacy rule, and investment in receivables, and having a cash flow statement are devices to protect against this risk. Having a good performance record for honesty and fair dealing will help the business secure financial help when it is needed.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

The Shift to Customer Service


You may wonder what, exactly, caused the economic shift to service away from manufacturing. Some of the more prominent reasons are described herebelow:

  • Increased efficiency in technology. Because of the development and improvement of machines and computers, production and quality have increased. Two resulting side effects have been an increased need for service industries to care for the technology, and a decrease in manufacturing.
  • Globalization of the economy: Beginning in the 1960s, when worldwide trade barriers were lowered, a variety of factors have contributed to expanded international cooperation and competition. Since that time, advances in technology, communications, diplomacy, and transportation have opened new markets and allowed decentralized worldwide access for production, sales, and service.
  • Deregulation of many industries: the 1970s saw deregulation of industries (e.g., airlines, telephone) alongwith oil embargoes and political unrest (Vietnam, Iran) reducing US competition while allowing other countries free access to those areas of the world. The rapid deregulation of major US public services, competition (with an emphasis on providing service excellence) has flourished.
  • More women entering the workforce: Because more women are in the workplace, many of the traditional roles in society have shifted out of necessity or convenience to service providers.
  • Desire to better use leisure time: More than ever, workers of developed nations enjoy increasing amounts of leisure time. This has heightened a desire to relax, enjoy children, and do other things they value—people want to use their free time in more personally satisfying ways. To accomplish this, they now rely more heavily on service industries to maintain their desired lifestyles.
  • Expectation of quality service: Most customers expect that they will receive a quality product or service. If their expectations are not met, customers simply pick up the phone to call or visit a competing company where they can receive what they think they paid for. This created a need for more and better trained customer service professionals.
  • Better educated customers: Not only are customers more highly educated, they are also well informed about price, quality, and value of products and services. This has occurred in part because of advertising and publicity by companies competing for market share by the activity of consumer information and advocacy groups.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight