Good Pricing Decisions


Pricing decisions draw on many areas of marketing expertise. It requires a comprehensive understanding of the forces that shape the market, including competitive  interactions, technology and consumer psychology. Sometimes these forces interact and are likely to put downward pressure on prices, such as substitutes, technological advances, price-driven competition, customer experience, and changes in internal focus, such as sales forecasts. Customer makes it difficult to raise prices, as repeat customers’ ability to perceive incremental value of a company’s product or service diminishes over time, especially as substitute or competitive products emerge. Increased internal expectations in the form of expected sales increases or new budgets can send prices on a downward spiral. Customer price sensitivity may also serve  to keep prices in check, especially in the presence of available competitive substitutes or among a company’s marginal customers.

Even in a deflationary economy, there are opportunities for keeping prices from dropping or even for raising prices. However, customers must perceive that these enhancements deliver a genuine, meaningful benefit, or they will continue to seek lower cost alternatives.

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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Cardinal versus Ordinal


What do we mean when we say that a variable is “quantitatively measurable”?We do not necessarily mean that there is only a single way of measuring or scaling it. Temperature is certainly quantitatively measurable, but there are alternative ways of doing so. For example, 320 Fahrenheit is 00 Celsius, and each degree up or down of Celsius corresponds to 1.8 degrees up or down of Fahrenheit. The two scales differ, but only in zero point and unit interval. Similarly, altitude could be measured from sea level or from the center of the earth (shift of zero point) and in feet or meters (shift of unit interval). Both temperature and altitude are more technically called cardinal magnitudes, variables which have the following property: that, regardless of shift of zero-point and unit interval, the relative magnitudes of differences remain the same. In case of altitude, for example, there’s a bigger difference between the heights of the base and crest of Mount Everest than between the ground floor and roof of even the tallest building. This remains true whether we scale altitude in feet or meters or whether we measure it from sea level or from the center of the earth. If people can state that they prefer two million to one million—but not by how much—their utility is said to be an “ordinal” magnitude. Put another way, if Total Utility is an ordinal magnitude we cannot say anything about the  size of Marginal Utility but we can still say whether Marginal Utility is positive or negative.

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.

 

Disadvantages of Sole Proprietorship


What may be seen as an advantage by one person may turn out to be a disadvantage to another. The goals and talents of the individual owner are the deciding factors. For profitable businesses managed by capable owners, many of the following factors do not cause problems. On the other hand, proprietors starting out with little management experience and little money are likely to encounter many of the disadvantages.

  1. Unlimited Liability: The sole proprietor has unlimited liability in meeting the debts of the business. In other words, if the business cannot pay its creditors, the owner may be forced to use personal, non-business holdings such as a car or a home to pay off the debts. The more wealth an individual has, the greater is the advantage of unlimited liability.
  2. Limited Sources of Funds: Among the relatively few sources of money available to the sole proprietorship are a bank, friends, family, or his or her own funds. The owner’s personal financial condition, then, determines his or her credit standing. Often the only way a sole proprietor can borrow for business purposes is to pledge a car, a house, or other real estate, or other personal assets to guarantee the loan. And if the business fails, the owner may lose the personal assets as well as the business. Publically owned corporations, in contrast, can not only obtain funds from commercial banks but can sell stocks and bonds to the public to raise money. If a public company goes out of business, the owners do not lose personal assets.
  3. Limited Skills: The role proprietor must be able to perform many functions and possess skills in diverse fields such as management, marketing, finance, accounting, bookkeeping, and personnel. Although the owner can rely on specialized professionals to provide advice, he or she must make the final decision in each of these areas.
  4. Lack of Continuity: The life expectancy of a sole proprietorship is directly related to that of the owner and his or her ability to work. The serious illness of the owner could result in failure if competent help cannot be found.
  5. Lack of qualified Employees: It is usually difficult for a small sole proprietorship to match the wages and benefits offered by a large competing corporation because the proprietorship’s level of profits may not be as high. In addition, there is little room for advancement within a sole proprietorship, so the owner may have difficulty attracting and retaining qualified employees.
  6. Taxation: Although it is considered that taxation is an advantage for sole proprietorships, it can also be a disadvantage, depending on the proprietor’s income. Under current tax rates, sole proprietors pay a higher marginal tax rate than do small corporations. The tax often determines whether a sole proprietor chooses to incorporate his or her 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.

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

Peak Versus Off Peak Operation


An important practical problem in many industries is how to deal with sharp variations between peak and off-peak demands. Telephones are more heavily used during business hours than during evenings or weekends; local transit demands are greatest in the morning and afternoon commuting hours; in the arid areas water is more intensely demanded in summer than in winter months; restaurants are busiest at regular mealtimes, and so on. For a firm facing both peak and off-peak demands for its product, the optimization problem is how to divide its efforts between the two.

Assume for simplicity that the peak and off-peak periods are equal duration. Under pure competition the firm would be a price-taker in both the peak and off-peak markets. In the peak market it would face a higher price and in the off-peak market a lower price—but, in either market, the price will be independent of the firm’s own level of output. An example might be a city served by a number of competing taxicab suppliers, daytime hours being the peak demand period and evening hours the off-peak demand period. The quoted taxicab fares do not usually vary with time of day. However, the effective price of taxicab service does vary. In peak periods taxi earn a higher effective price, since there is less “dead time” waiting for a customer. And similarly, the customers have to pay a higher effective price in peak periods, since on average they have to wait longer for taxi to become available.

In analyzing the peak/off-peak situation, it is essential to distinguish between “common costs” and “saparable costs.” Common costs are those that apply to both peak and off-peak service. On the case of taxicabs they would include the costs of providing the casbs themselves, of running the central dispatching system,, and so on. Saparable costs are those incurred in serving each specific market. For taxicabs they might include gasoline and drivers’ wages. The distinction between common and saparable costs is quite apart from the distinction between fixed and variable costs. Common costs can be fixed or variable, and the same holds for saparable costs.

The following additional assumptions are employed: 1) There are no common fixed costs at all; the marginal common costs (MCC) is a constant magnitude. 2) The separable costs include both fixed and variable elements, but the cost function is the same in either market. However the firm may want to operate at different points along the cost curves in serving the two markets. A taxicab firm, for example, may chose to put a larger number of cabs on the road during peak period.

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

Managing Cash and Liquidity


In a turbulent environment, cash returns are important, if not more important, than reported profit returns. Cash returns lead to liquidity, and liquidity is a top priority consideration whenever risks and uncertainties surround a business situation, as they do in so many cases today. Cash and liquidity put any company in a better position to withstand a surprise blow, adapt to sudden changes, and capitalize on the narrower windows of opportunity that are commonplace in a turbulent environment.

This doesn’t mean that profits and profit growth are not important. The whole purpose of any business enterprise is to maximize profits and profit growth, but this objective will  not be achieved if business unit managers do not focus more time and attention on managing their cash and liquidity. Any entrepreneur that has lived through a start-up knows the importance of cash and liquidity. The entrepreneur knows from experience that a business can go bankrupt even while it is reporting profits. But it will never go bankrupt as long as its cash and liquidity positions are strong. Most corporate executives understand this point also, but many do not follow through to make sure it is sufficiently stressed or understood at the operating level. This is where the problem lies. Most business unit managers who operate under a corporate umbrella tend to overlook the importance of managing their own cash and liquidity and look instead to the corporation as a never ending source of funds.

The results are apparent in most corporations. Capital expenditure proposals tend to be a “wish list” often justified on project volume gains or cost savings that never occur. Working capital is allowed to build without adequate regard for carrying costs on the cash commitment. In short, overinvestment in plant and equipment, and working capital often serves as a buffer to cover sloppy business practices and control. These are practices that inevitably lead to an investment base that is too big for the business and to marginal profit returns.

Many operating managers in a corporation are not even aware of the costs incurred while excess capital is tied up in the business. This is not an exaggeration. Just ask any four or five business unit managers how much it costs to carry their inventory. Most of them will acknowledge an interest cost of, say 7—8 percent, but few will recognize that total carrying costs, which include storage, taxes, obsolescence, and shrink, actually run closer to 30 percent in today’s environment. We would also bet that none of them have such charges against their earnings, even though it is a very legitimate cost of doing business.

Not every company operates this way. Most corporate executives are not tough minded or rigorous enough in challenging cash commitments, and most business unit managers have more cash tied up in their business than required.

Ideally, every manager should think like a small business entrepreneur with his or her own money at risk. If this were the case, we would not see so many companies with bloated balance sheets and marginal returns. Left on their own, most business unit managers do not think this way, however. Life is not easier when you can draw almost at will on coroprate resources to meet the payroll, build inventories, and buy supplies, tooling and a lot of equipment. Under such conditions you don’t have to worry very much about how to make ends meet.

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

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