The Contract Theory


The contract theory holds that when a person buys a product or service, he or she is entering into a contract with the manufacturer. The manufacturer (and by implication the employee representing the manufacturer) has four main obligations:

  1. To make sure the product or service complies with the contract in several respects: it should do what its advertisements say it can, it should operate a certain period of time before needing service or maintenance, and it should be at least as safe as the product information states and the advertising suggests.
  2. To disclose all pertinent information about the product or service, so that the potential consumer can make  an informed decision on whether to purchase it.
  3. To avoid misrepresenting the product or service.
  4. To avoid coercion.

Critics of the contract theory argue that the typical consumer cannot understand the product as well as the manufacturer does, and that consumer ignorance invalidates the contract.

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.

Cost Drivers


Cost Drivers

The concept of cost drivers can be defined in the consumption or expenditure of recourse or the limitations incurred on revenues. They include:

i.            Price

  • Amount actually paid
  • Price protection

ii.            System & Processes:

  • Time
  • Overhead

iii.            Inventory

  • Carrying costs
  • Overstock & dead stock
  • Handling costs

iv.            Requirements

  • Over-engineered
  • Under-engineered

       v.            Operations

  • Maintenance costs
  • Operating efficiency

     vi.            Revenues

  • Downtime
  • Improved output

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.

Good Maintenance


Good maintenance is fundamental to productive manufacturing system; try running a production line with faulty equipment. Total productive maintenance is keeping the current plant and equipment at its highest productive level through cooperation of all areas of the organization. Generally, the first task is to break down the traditional barriers between maintenance and production personnel so they are working together. Individuals working together without regard to organizational structure, using their skills and ingenuity, have common objective—peak performance or total productivity.

This approach does not mean that such basic techniques as predictive and preventive maintenance are not used; they are essential to building a foundation for successful total productive maintenance environment. Productive maintenance is the process of using data and statistical tools to determine when a piece of equipment will fail, and preventive maintenance is the process of periodically performing activities such as lubrication on the equipment to keep it running.

The total maintenance function should be directed towards the elimination of unplanned equipment and plant maintenance. The objective is to create a system in which all maintenance activities can be planned and not interfere with the production process. Surprise equipment breakdowns should not occur. Before the advent of computer-aided manufacturing, operators in some organizations were responsible for their machines and took a certain pride of ownership. With the help of maintenance technicians, operators spent part of their work time keeping their equipment in good running order. Recent technical advances have given us more tools to perform the maintenance function.

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.

 

Learn from Operations of other Organizations


There is nothing wrong with learning from other organizations. You should search each reasonable source for ideas that you can adapt—don’t be afraid or too proud to borrow ideas from anyone. Remember that to copy from one person is plagiarism, to copy from lots of people is research. If you offer a service, you might start by looking at the operations of a highly successful service provider. You can learn a lot by walking around companies and thus see how they have tackled their decisions about location, layout, capacity, product design, process design, performance measures, logistics, stock control, technology used, staffing, pricing, amount of vertical integration, maintenance and replacement, and financing.  When you look for improvements, see how other organizations have solved similar problems, and don’t be afraid to borrow good ideas.

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

Strategy Maintenance


  1. To maintain existing strategies, seek little change in current organizational (inter-organizational) arrangements. Any significant change is likely to undermine the regime established in the earlier phase. It is important, however, to find occasions to recall the mission or vision that originally inspired people to seek new strategies or validated the results of previous strategy formulation efforts.
  2. To maintain or marginally modify existing strategies, rely on implementers and focused input from consumers. Broader involvement of elites and the public is likely to raise issues and conflicts that may require more fundamental policy changes.

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

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

Walking and Talking Customer Value


To survive in this value era firms concentrate on improving four key business processes: designing, making, marketing, and supporting. Customer value is maximized when product, order, and experience—which are outcomes of the first three processes—are correct, timely, appropriate, and economical.

We are moving into the value era and firms will no longer survive if they simply focus on price and product features. Several non-price factors are thought to have great influence on customers perceptions of value received: 1) the length of customer lead times; 2) variation from promised delivery dates; 3) condition of product on arrival; 4) sales call and order initiation procedures; 5) credit, billing, and collection procedures; 6) effectiveness of after-sales support; 7) product documentation; 8) product performance; 9) product downtime frequency and duration; and 10) maintenance cost and difficulty.

There are four key business processes responsible for creating better customer value: 1) design—integrating the “voice of the customer” when building the product; 2) making –getting key inputs from suppliers and transforming them into other components or finished products leading to filled customer orders; 3) marketing—transforming sales leads into sales calls, sales orders, service calls, and sales support which lead to completed service transactions; and 4) support—those activities and tasks that serve internal customers.

In addition, the four key business processes must be reengineered and firms should strive for: 1) simplicity—provide the required variety of outputs at low cost and with minimum capital intensity; 2) focus—customer and supplier processes should be treated at the same process; 3) energy—employees should be empowered and also have problemsolving skills; 4) continuity—processes must have extensive improvement and refinement; 5) linearity—subprocesses within each process must be linked together and be customer driven; and 6) dependability—strong customer-supplier relationships assure the success of each process.

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

Customers as Competitors


If self-service customers can be viewed as resources of the firm, or as partial employees, self-service customers could in some cases partially perform the service or perform the entire service for themselves and not need the provider at all. Customers thus in a sense are competitors of the companies that supply the service. Whether to produce a service for themselves (internal exchange)—for example, home maintenance, car repair—or have someone else provide the service for them (external exchange) is a common dilemma for customers.

 Similar internal versus external exchange decisions are made by organizations. Firms frequently choose to outsource service activities such as payroll, data processing, research, accounting, maintenance, and facilities management. They find that it is advantageous to focus on their core businesses and leave these essential support services to others with greater expertise. Alternatively, a firm may decide to stop purchasing services externally and bring the service production process in-house.

 Whether a household or a firm chooses to produce a particular service for itself or contract externally for the service depends on a variety of factors. A proposed model of internal/external exchange suggests that such decisions depend on the following:

a)    Expertise capacity

b)   Resource capacity

c)    Time capacity

d)   Economic rewards

e)    Psychic rewards

f)     Trust

g)    Control

The important thing to remember is that in many service scenaries customers can and do choose to fully or partially produce the service themselves. Thus, in addition to recognizing that customers can be productive resources and co-creators of quality and value, organizations also need to recognize the customer’s role as a potential customer.

 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

Relationship-based Management


The four steps to moving your organization closer to a relationship based management program are:

  1. Segmentation
  2. Analyzing current behavior
  3. Developing strategy to achieve target behaviors
  4. Behavior maintenance.

By behavior I mean the buying or other behaviors of a customer, in relationship to the organization and its products and services.

In beginning the process it is probably worth taking time to do an audit of all the systems, information, research, marketing knowledge, attractiveness, historical results from promotions and any other additional sources of data that may exist in your organization.

Customer relationship management requires a holistic approach so that the infortmation that is held about customers across the organization is drawn together in one central source or at least cross-accessed so that it can be compiled and collated. For example: information is probably held at an accounting level about customer transactions and appended to that may be a payment record. A different computer system may hold results of marketing activity for different customers or different customer groups. Another database may actually hold information on customer service queries or enquiries – times they may have phoned or contacted you for some question or other. This information needs to be carefully scoped and drawn together.

This analysis is the first part of segmentation by behavior and value. The second stage is to begin an initial segmentation of a customer base. You should include the value, potential value and historical behavior of your customer. This should then be compared with the existing buying patterns and behavior and then contrasted, thirdly, with the future, or target behavior, of an ideal or loyal customer.

Every customer is in some way unique. However, many customers are unique in similar ways. There are practical steps that can be taken to segment customers by value, pattern, and buying criteria.

The next stage is to develop a strategy – a plan or a series of plans to attribute the target behavior to each segment or individual – and then to begin to allocate a budget for each of those behaviors. For example, if you had a mail order business marketing collectible antique replicas, you would identify the different customer segments in terms of their buying behaviors and in terms of how much they had spent in the past; the frequency, the types of products that they had been interested in and the mechanisms that they had responded to – whether that’s direct mail or off the page advertising, the internet etc. if you were then trying to increase the frequency of spend or the transaction value of the spend, this would become a target behavior that you would focus on.

The next stage is to look at the actual technology or systems that will allow you to achieve better relationship management with your customers. This may require some redesign or re-implementation of hardware and software to allow access to the information at a single point.

The final stage is management in the evolution of the process. There is always a matter of trial and error and trial and success. Before implementing a wide scale program it is essential that it is carefully tested on a small part of each segment of the customer base before being rolled out. Indeed by using customer relationship management methods in segmenting customers and customer groups more accurately, test marketing and test promotions can actually be far more accurately guaged and measured.

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