Defining Issues & Priorities


Ensure that the key issues facing business have been realistically defined in light of the current and rapidly changing business environment. There is nothing new about this requirement, but the fact is that very few management teams actually take the time and apply the discipline necessary to objectively define and prioritize the key issues that can make or break their business. The issues of inferior quality, higher cost products, lower productivity, and nonresponsive service plague manufacturers for the better part of the recent past. Many companies in industries such as steel, automotive, machine tool, textile, farm and construction equipment suffer badly as a result. Only few companies address these issues in effective ways. Most are unable to clearly identify the key issues, set priorities, and develop the necessary business plans to overcome the underlying problems.

While the specific issues vary for different companies and industries, the management mindset should not vary. To deal effectively with an increasingly turbulent environment, priorities must be set so the business can survive unexpected blows, adapt to sudden dropping changes, and then capitalize on smaller windows of opportunity that develop and close much more quickly than they have in the past.

Many progressive managers kick off their planning process with a session aimed specifically at getting agreement on key issues and priorities. Accepting these priorities require a shift in the way most managers think and act, such as:

  • Liquidity becomes a more important objective, often more important than reported earnings. It provides the flexibility to deal more effectively with unexpected events than is possible when everything is tied up in fixed and slow moving assets.
  • Productivity gains per dollar of capital and per employee must be achieved annually. These reductions must exceed inflation and achieve demonstrably lower costs.
  • Innovation must never stop. Demonstrable product and process improvements must be achieved year after year.
  • All cycle and response times must be continuously reduced.
  • A “frightened” sense of urgency must be the way of life in all parts of the business.

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.

Operating Leverage


It is a financial thought quite similar to break-even analysis. Both fixed and variable costs are used in the production and marketing of products. The higher the operating leverage, the faster the speed of increase of total profits after the sales crosses the break-even volume. Likewise, those firms with high operational leverage will suffer losses at a faster rate after the sales volume drops under the break-even point.

Organizations with high operating leverage gain more from sales from organizations that have low operating leverage. Organizations with high operating leverage are more responsive to drop in sales volume, losses will occur at a faster speed.

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.

Focusing Process Improvement


Few customers like to have to wait because your system is obviously not functioning effectively or a breakdown has occurred. Rightfully so, they view their time as valuable. It is unfair to expect them to patiently wait,. Such defects should be handled when the customer is not present. Service to the customer should be seamless. They should get great service and never have to worry about your problems or breakdowns in your process. When breakdowns do occur, they should be fixed quickly and the customer relationship smoothed over. Additionally, it is important that customers will react differently in different situations.

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 Sales Potential


Market sales potential is a quantitative approximation of effective demand. Specifically, market sales potential is the maximum level of sales that might be available to all organizations serving a defined market in a specific time period given 1) the marketing mix activities and effort of all organizations, and 2) a set of environmental conditions. As this definition indicates, market sales potential is not a fixed amount. Rather, it is a function of a number of factors, some of which are controllable and others not controllable by organizations. For example, controllable marketing-mix activities and marketing related expenditures of organizations can influence market sales potential. On the other hand, consumer disposable income, government regulations, and other social, economic, and political conditions are not controllable by organizations, but do affect market sales potential. These uncontrollable factors are particularly relevant in estimating market sales potential in developing countries.

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.

Pro Forma Income Statement


Because marketing managers are accountable for the profit impact of their actions, they must translate their strategies and tactics into pro forma, or projected, income statements. A pro forma income statement displays projected revenues, budgeted expenses, and estimated net profit for an organization, product, or service during a specific planning period, usually a year. Pro forma income statements include a sales forecast and a listing of variable and fixed costs that can be programmed or committed.

Pro forma income statements can be prepared in different ways and reflect varying levels of specificity. They have a typical layout consisting of six major categories or line items:

  1. Sales—forecasted unit volume times unit selling price
  2. Cost of goods sold—costs incurred in buying or producing products and services. Generally speaking, these costs are constant per unit within certain volume ranges and vary with total unit volume.
  3. Gross margin (sometimes called gross profit)—represents the remainder after cost of goods sold has been subtracted from sales.
  4. Marketing expenses—generally programmed expenses budgeted to produce sales. Advertising expenses are typically fixed. Sales expenses can be fixed, such as a salesperson’s salary, or variable, such as sales commissions. Freight or delivery expenses are typically constant per unit and vary with total unit volume.
  5. General and administrative expenses—generally, committed fixed costs for the planning period, which cannot be avoided if the organization is to operate. These costs are frequently called overhead.
  6. Net income before (income) taxes (often called net profit before taxes—the remainder after all costs have been subtracted from sales.

A pro forma income statement reflects a marketing manager’s expectations (sales) given criterion inputs (costs). This means that a manager must think specifically about customer response to strategies and tactics and focus attention on the organization’s financial objectives of profitability and growth when preparing a pro forma income statement.

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.

Order Cost


Order cost includes all incremental costs associated with placing or receiving an extra order that are incurred regardless of the size of the order. Components of order cost include:

  • Buyer time: Buyer time is the incremental time of the buyer placing the extra order. This cost should be included only if the buyer is utilized fully. The incremental cost of getting an idle buyer to place an order is zero and does not add to the order cost. Electronic ordering can significantly reduce the buyer time to place an order by making order placement simpler and in some cases automatic.
  • Transportation costs: A fixed transportation cost is often incurred regardless of the size of the order.
  • Receiving costs: Some receiving costs are incurred regardless of the size of order. They include any administration work such as purchase order matching and any effort associated with updating inventory records. Receiving costs that are volume dependent should not be included.
  • Other costs: Each situation can have costs unique to it that should be considered if they are incurred for each order regardless of the quantity of that order.

The order cost is estimated as the sum of all its component costs. The order cost is often a step function; it is zero when the resource is not fully utilized, but takes on a large value when the resource is fully utilized. At that point the order cost is the cost of the additional resource required.

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.

Full Warranty


A full warranty means:

  1. The warrantor will fix or replace any defective product, including removal and reinstallation if necessary, free of charge.
  2. It is not limited in time (say, to one or two years).
  3. It does not either exclude or limit payment for consequential damages unless the exclusion or limitation is printed conspicuously on the face of the written warranty.
  4. If the product cannot be repaired or has not been repaired after a reasonable number of efforts to repair it, the consumer may choose between a refund and a replacement.
  5. The warrantor cannot impose duties on the consumer except reasonable duties (the warranty cannot require the consumer to ship a piano to the factory) or a duty not to modify the product.
  6. The warrantor is not required to fulfill the warranty terms if the problem was caused by damage to the product through unreasonable use.

A full warranty does not have to cover the whole product. It may cover only part of the product, such as the picture tube of a television set. Also, anyone who owns the product during the warranty period may invoke or use the warranty.

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.

Pure Competition


The term competition is used ambiguously not only in ordinary conversation but in economic literature as well. Its common meaning is rivalry, but in economics when used along with the word pure, it carries a different meaning. Following are necessary conditions for pure competition:

  1. Homogeneity of the product: For competition to exist in a market all sellers of the product being exchanged sell homogeneous units of the product, or at least the buyers of that product believe that this is so.
  2. Smallness of each buyer or seller relative to the market: Each buyer and each seller of the product under consideration is too small in relation to the entire market for the product to influence significantly the price of the product that is being bought or sold.
  3. Absence of artificial restraints: There are no artificial restrictions on the demands for, the supplies of, and the prices of whatever is being exchanged. No government price fixing nor any institutional fixing or administering of price by producers’ associations, labor unions, or other private agencies. There is no supply restriction enforced by the government or by organized producer groups. Control of demand through governmental rationing is nonexistent.
  4. Mobility: There is mobility of goods and services of resources in the economy. New firms are free to enter any desired industry, and resources are free to move among alternative uses to those where they desire employment. Sellers are able to dispose of their goods and services where the price is highest. Resources are able to secure employment in their highest paid uses.

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.

Improving Quality


Improving quality is a lot like taking vitamins, eating healthy foods, and exercising regularly. Although the results may not be immediate, long-term benefits are significant. Quality is neither a quick fix nor the program of the month, but rather a way of life for companies who are serious about improvements.

Quality is a fundamental to creating value, yet it is a moving target and must meet the customers’ current definition of quality. Thus, we offer the following recommendations for improving service quality and ultimately delivering superior customer value:

  • Design services in cooperation with customers. Learn what customers truly value by incorporating the voice of the customer earlier in the service development process. Also, it is important to determine not only the customers’ preferred service attributes but their relative importance, as well.
  • Focus your improvement programs outward, on market break points. Only by defining those episodes, when the customer comes in contact with the organization, and by focusing on the ones most critical can you see things as the customer sees them. Also, visualize the complete sequence of the moments of truth a customer experiences in having some need met. Remember, the customer sees service in terms of a total experience, not an isolated set of activities. Mapping the service cycle helps companies see these activities as the customer sees them.
  • Create a triangle representation of service quality. Hotels and restaurants often advertise and display on their properties ratings by one of the major motor clubs, such as AAA or Mobil Oil, Hertz #1 Gold Club service communicates a premium, value-added bundle of services to business travelers seeking a hassle-free car rental experience.
  • Use teamwork to promote service excellence—service workers who support one another and achieve together can avoid service burnout.
  • Create a service bias based on each of the following service quality determinants: professionalism, attitudes and behaviors, accessibility and flexibility, reliability and trustworthiness, service recovery, and reputation and credibility. These criteria can be used as guidelines for influencing positive service quality perceptions.
  • Develop proper measurements. Use metrics that are specific on nature, such as 95% on-time-delivery, customer wait time, or order processing time. Benchmark the best practices for each service are being measured, such as wait time or order delivery.
  • Employee selection, job design, and training are absolutely crucial to building customer satisfaction and service quality. Structure the job of service workers to maximize their ability to respond quickly and competently to customer needs. Also, train service personnel in areas of service delivery and attitude. Role play different service scenarios, showing various service recovery strategies. Provide service workers with some basic tools to help control service quality variation and uncover service problems.
  • Reward total quality efforts in marketing. Look for opportunities to reinforce quality behaviors when they occur. Employees should be rewarded ob the basis of these behaviors (commitment, effort) rather than strictly on outcomes, such as sales quotas. Rewarding a salesperson for meeting or exceeding quota with a bonus while giving a nominal award such as a pin or plaque to the person who fixes the product or process sends a clear message about the importance of quality.
  • Think of service as a process, not a series of functions. Service quality occurs when the entire service experience is managed and the organization is aligned to respond accordingly.

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.

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