Entrepreneur


Most businesses start as a dream in somebody’s mind. An entrepreneur is a person with an idea. He or she also is someone with the energy and drive to turn that idea into a business. An entrepreneur needs these characteristics because in a young firm he or she must often do everything at once—manufacture the product, sell it, find enough money to keep going, and manage few employees.

The entrepreneur must be willing to take great risks, too, for most new businesses fail within a year. The odds against success are stiff, partly because many business ideas simply are not very good. After all, whoever wanted to buy paper dresses or quadraphonic sound. Factors that create special risks for new businesses are those over which entrepreneurs have little control. Also, technology has become highly complex and many new products—a filter to remove the salt from sea water, for example, require many years and teams of scientists and engineers to develop. Then, too, a vast array of government regulations creates additional burdens of time, energy, and expenses for owners of new businesses.

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.

Service Quality and Employee Behavior


Customers’ perceptions of service quality will be impacted by the customer-oriented behaviors of employees. In fact, the five dimensions of service quality—reliability, responsiveness, assurance, empathy, and tangibles—can be influenced directly by service employees.

Delivering the service as promised—reliability—is often totally within the control of front-line employees. Even in the case of automated services—such as ATMs, automated ticketing machines, or self-serve and pay gasoline pumps—behind the scenes employees are critical for making sure all of the systems are working properly. When services fail or errors are made, employees are essential for setting things right and using their judgment to determine the best course of action for service recovery.

Front-line employees directly influence customer perceptions of responsiveness through their personal willingness to help and their promptness in serving customers. Consider the range of responses you receive from different retail store clerks when you need help finding a particular item of clothing. One employee may ignore your presence, whereas another offers to help you search and calls other stores to locate the item. One may help you immediately and efficiently, whereas another may move slowly in accommodating even the simplest request.

The assurance dimension of service quality is highly dependent on employees’ ability to communicate their credibility and to inspire trust and confidence. The reputation of the organization will help, but in the end, individual employees with whom the customer interacts confirm and build trust in the organization or detract from its reputation and ultimately destroy trust. For startup or relatively unknown organizations, credibility, trust, and confidence will be tied totally to employee actions.

It is difficult to imagine how an organization would deliver “caring, individualized attention” to customers independent of its employees. Empathy implies that employees will pay attention, listen, adapt, and be flexible in delivering what individual customers need. For example, research documents that when employees are customer-oriented, have good rapport with customers, and exhibit perceptive and attentive listening skills, customers will evaluate the service more highly and be more likely to return. Employee appearance and dress are important aspects of the tangibles dimension of quality, along with many other factors that are independent of service employees (the service facility, décor, brochures, signage, and so on).

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.

Setting the Example


One of the best ways to get people to achieve excellence is to inspire them through your own example. No matter how much you talk or what you do, if you aren’t stretching and growing, if you aren’t giving until it hurts, forget about asking them to do so.

Most Olympic athletes got to where they are because they were inspired by an Olympic athlete who preceded them. Few of us, if any, have the capacity to be self-inspired. We need another person to help light the flame. You are their role model. How your people perform will always reflect to some degree the behavior and ideals you live out day-to-day basis.

Virtually everything you do in some way implies a standard to your people—the way you dress, the way you interact with peers and superiors, whether or not you start your meetings on time, the quality of your work. It is a good idea to do a quick check on yourself from time to time to see if you are performing the way you want your people to perform.

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.

Problems of Conduct


In Japan’s early history, a serious disregard for manners could be punishable by death, and any samurai could kill any common person who failed to show him proper respect. The Japanese were required to behave in precisely prescribed ways—wearing permitted clothing, walking only a certain way, sleeping with their heads pointing in a certain direction and legs arranged a particular way. Eating, greeting, gesturing with hands, opening doors and many work tasks had to be done in assigned ways without deviation. Conduct became a measure of morality, and virtue in manners was visible for all to see. Even today, the code of conduct plays a significant role in the lives of the Japanese. Many societies, not Japan alone, have a prescribed form and manner for every familiar situation that might arise. Unforeseen situations can cause intense embarrassment or discomfort. Throughout East Asia, actions are judged by the manner in which they are performed. More important than the accomplishment of a task is the question of how someone went about trying to complete the task: Did he act sincerely? More important than winning the race is the grace of the runner. More important than expertise is the way one gets along with others. More important than profits is harmony. In contrast, Westerners and particularly Americans are more concerned with the principles of things, hard “measures” and objective facts. Although rules of ethics are extremely important, we are more goal oriented than method-conscious, we say “a good loser is a loser.”

One aspect of form is the concept of “face.” Much has been written about “face-saving” in Japan and China, but face-saving is important absolutely everywhere. The difference is only a matter of degree and nuance. Where an American might feel a little guilty or inadequate, an Asian, Arab or South American may feel deep shame and humiliation. What an American might see as a little honest and constructive criticism, the foreigner may take as a devastating blow to pride and dignity. A foreigner is likely to be sensitive to feelings of others in transactions that an American would consider strictly impersonal, such as returning a defective product or switching hairdressers. The traveler simply must be more conscious of saying things or behaving in ways that cannot be taken as disrespect, criticism or humiliation. In some countries it seems just about anything can be taken personally, even such indirect affronts as not taking your shoes off in a mosque or complaining about the heat.

Harmony with the environment can be as important as sensitivity to people in some cultures. In Japan a woman wears a soft pastel dress to a flower show so as not to take away from the beauty of the flowers. In countries where people believe in reincarnation they are careful about all forms of life. In India, for example, people are careful not to swallow gnats or step on ants—one might be a relative.

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, Lectures, Line of Sight.

The primacy of Internal Marketing


Internal marketing is the conceptual process by which managers actively encourage, stimulate, and support employee commitment to the company, the company’s goods and services, and the company’s customers. Emphasis should be placed on continual. Managers, who consistently pitch into help when needed, constantly provide encouragement and words of praise to employees, strive to help employees understand the benefits of performing their jobs well, and emphasize the importance of employee actions on both company and employee results are practitioners of internal marketing. In service marketing, successful internal marketing efforts, leading to employee commitment to service quality, are key to success.

Properly performed customer satisfaction research can yield a wealth of strategic information about customers, the sponsoring company, and competitors. However, service quality goes beyond the relationship between a customer and a company. Rather, it is personal relationship between a customer and the particular employee that the customer happens to be dealing with at the time of the service encounter that ultimately determines service quality. The importance of having customer-oriented, frontline people cannot be overstated. If frontline service personnel are unfriendly, unhelpful, uncooperative, or uninterested in the customer, the customer will tend to project that same attitude to the company as a whole. The character and personality of an organization reflects the character and personality of its top management. Management must develop programs that will stimulate employee commitment to customer service. These programs must contain five critical components:

1) A careful selection process in hiring frontline employees. To do this, management has to clearly define the skills the service person must bring to the job.

2) A clear, concrete message that conveys particular service strategy that frontline people can bring to act on. People delivering service need to know how their work fits in the broader scheme of business operations. They need to have a cause because servicing others is just too demanding and frustrating to be done well each day without one.

3) Significant modeling by managers, that is, managers demonstrating the behavior that they intend to reward employees for performing.

4) An energetic follow-through process, in which managers provide the training, support, and incentives necessary to give the employees the capability and willingness to provide quality service.

5) An emphasis on teaching employees to have good attitudes. This type of training usually focuses on specific social techniques, such as, eye contact, smiling, tone of voice, and standards of dress.

However, organizing and implementing such programs will only lead to temporary results unless managers practice a strategy of internal 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 contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight