Simultaneous Production and Consumption


Whereas most goods are produced first, then sold and consumed, most services are sold first and then produced and consumed simultaneously. A restaurant services cannot be provided until they have been sold, and the dining experience is essentially produced and consumed at the same time. Frequently this also means that the customer is present while the service is being produced and thus views and may even take part in the production process. This also means that frequently customers will interact with each other during the service production process and thus may affect each others’ experiences. For example, strangers seated next to each other in an airplane may well affect the nature of the service experience for each other. That passengers understand this fact is clearly apparent in the way business travelers will often go to great lengths to be sure they are not seated next to families with small children. Another outcome of simultaneous production and consumption is that service producers find themselves playing a role as part of the product itself and as an essential ingredient in the service experience for the consumer.

Because services often are produced and consumed at the same time, mass production is difficult if not possible. The quality of service and customer satisfaction will be highly dependent on what happens in “real time,” including actions of employees and the interactions between employees and customers. Similarly, it is not usually possible to gain significant economies of scale through centralization. Usually operations need to be relatively decentralized so that the service can be delivered to the consumer in convenient locations. Also because of simultaneous production and consumption, the customer is involved in and observes the production process and thus may affect (positively or negatively) the outcome of the service transaction.

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.

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.

Sole Proprietorships


Sole proprietorships, businesses owned and operated by one individual, are the most common form of business organization. Sole proprietorships are generally managed by their owners. Because of this simple management structure, the owner/manager can make decisions quickly. This is just one of many advantages of the sole proprietorship form of business.

Ease and Cost of Formation: Forming a sole proprietorship in relatively easy and inexpensive. In some countries, creating a sole proprietorship involves merely announcing the new business in the local newspaper. Other proprietorships, such as barber shops and restaurants, may require state and local licenses and permits because of the nature of the business. No lawyer is needed to create such enterprises, and the owner can usually take care of the required paperwork.

An entrepreneur starting a new sole proprietorship must find a suitable site from which to operate the business. Some sole proprietors look no farther than their garage or a spare bedroom that they can convert into a workshop or office. Computers, personal copiers, fax machines, and other high-tech gadgets have been a boon for home-based businesses, permitting them to interact quickly with customers, suppliers, and others. Many independent salespersons and contractors can perform their work using a notebook computer as they travel. E-mail and cell phones have made it possible for many proprietorships to develop in the service area.

Secrecy: Sole proprietorships make possible the greatest degree of secrecy. The proprietor, unlike the owners of a partnership or corporation, does not have to discuss publicly his or her operating plans, minimizing the possibility that competitors can obtain trade secrets. Financial reports need not be disclosed.

Distribution and Use of Profits: All profits from a sole proprietorship belong exclusively to the owner. He or she does not have to share them with any partners or stockholders. The owner decides how to use the profits.

Flexibility and Control of the Business: The sole proprietor has complete control over the business and can make decisions on the spot without anyone else’s approval. This control allows the owner to respond quickly or competitive business conditions or to changes in the economy.

Government Regulation: Sole proprietorships have the most freedom from government regulation. Most government regulations apply only to businesses that a certain number of employees, and securities laws apply only to corporations that issue stock. Nonetheless, sole proprietors must ensure that they follow all laws that do apply to their business.

Taxation: Profits from the business are considered personal income to the sole proprietor and are taxed at individual tax rates. The owner pays one income tax.

Closing the Business: A sole proprietorship can be dissolved easily. No approval of co-owners or partners is necessary. The only legal condition is that all loans must be paid off.

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-oriented Ethnography


To fully understand how customers of other cultures assess and use services, it is necessary and effective to use approaches, such as market-oriented ethnography. This set of approaches allows researchers to observe consumption behavior in natural settings. The goal is to enter the consumer’s world as much as possible—observing how and when a service is used in an actual home environment or consumption environment, such as watching consumers eat in restaurants or attend concerts. Among the techniques used are observation, interviews, documents, and examination of material possessions, such as artifacts. Observation involves entering the experience as a participant observer and watching what occurs rather than asking questions about it. One-on-one interviews, particularly with key informants in the culture rather than consumers themselves, can provide compelling insights about culture-based behavior. Studying existing documents and cultural artifacts can also provide valuable insights, especially about lifestyles and usage patterns.

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.

Adding Frosting to the Cake


Smart people in all fields add some frosting to the cake they sell. Putting frosting on the cake means giving people more than they expect to receive, and it begins with simple things. A smart business manager never places negative people in upfront jobs, such as telephone operator, receptionist, check-out stand cashier, and ticket seller the customers and clients a business serves rarely, if ever,  see the firm president or a key manager. They judge the business rightly or wrongly by the way they are treated by the ‘unimportant’ people.

Experienced travelers stay at hotels where the reservations are polite and positive; people choose restaurants based on the attitudes of people who seat them, serve them, and take their money. How good the food tastes is always less important than the service in building repeat patronage. And the companies that deliver packages know courteous, friendly service is their best competitive weapon in beating the Postal Service where, generally, counter-personnel are negative in attitude.

Words and phrases as ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘you look good today’ are free frosting that make sales and build businesses. Call your business or office. If you don’t hear a wonderful, “I am really glad you called” voice, train or replace the person. Have a friend stop in at your business. If he doesn’t get great service, take corrective action.

Success-oriented people ask, “How can I give others more than they expect? What kind of frosting can I put on the cake I’m selling?”

A cake—the product or service you offer—is just baked dough. But when you put some frosting on it and give it a little post-sale service, you’ve made the dough delicious. Try it, and enjoy the rewards.

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.

Franchising


Franchising is the granting of a right by parent company to another firm to do business in a prescribed manner. It is similar to licensing, but it usually requires both parties to make a greater commitment of time and money. A franchise must generally follow strict guidelines in running the business and make substantial investments in a physical plant (such as a fast-food restaurant). In addition, whereas licensing tends to be limited to manufacturers, franchising is more common among service firms such as restaurants. Hotels, and rental services.

The advantages of franchasing are similar to licensing: it’s a quick and relatively low-cast way for a firm to expand into other countries. However, maintaining quality can be a problem.

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

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