The Concept of Service


If we open a new business, the key issue is how long we are planning. If all we want to do is make a quick buck and move on, there is absolutely no point spending a single penny we don’t absolutely need to. But that is not the route to creating an amazingly successful organization.

The only approach for an organization to take if it wants to become amazingly successful is to become highly effective and highly focused. And that doesn’t pay dividends overnight.

But no single working culture is right for every situation. Why should anyone spend money to create a future that they do not expect to be part of?

Why invest in intangible assets that are hard to value on the balance sheet such as staff, improving team moral, developing customer focus and lifting competence levels, if you expect to be moving on soon?

A working culture centered around the concept of service generally and customer service specifically is the most likely to deliver long-term amazing success.

An organization that wants to adopt a service-based working culture must however be ready for the long haul. It must have both the patience and the resources to get through the early stages in a market where market dominance and being the largest are critical whatever the future price?

Some organizations are better off starting with one working culture and then migrating to another when scale and success allow or demand it.

Planning to evolve or change our working culture is fine as an idea when those in charge are sufficiently switched on to the challenges of changing an organization’s culture: to act at the appropriate time and effectively instigate a culture shift in line with new market conditions.

Let’s not forget that the larger an organization is, the more careful it must be in choosing its working culture in the first instance. Larger organizations are always going to be harder to change; they are clumsy and less fleet of foot than their smaller counterparts. Larger organizations must change their working culture less often and less dramatically, so must put more time and effort into avoiding problems in the first place.

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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Attitude and Customer Liaison


Attitude is not always easy to understand, train or instill. It is generally defined as a positive, enthusiastic and helpful attitude – somebody that seems more alive and dead, it means somebody who seems to enjoy what they do or enjoys dealing with customers, not just somebody who happens to do this as a job to earn a living. Even though this may be true, a good customer service experience is one where the customer service person pretends if nothing else, that they enjoy their job – they like doing what they do and they are pleased to see the customer. If the customer representative can do this, the customer will pretend to enjoy buying from them and pretend enough that they will probably come back.

One of the most important aspects of attitude is when the customer is dissatisfied. The customer will then seem to view life through a telephoto lens and every detail or every aspect of the interaction will come under scrutiny. Therefore, the attitude must be to look at a glass of water as half full, instead of half empty.

One of the most important and outward expression of attitude is the verbal and non-verbal behavior that people use at critical times. Simple expressions, such as: ‘I can do that’ or ‘There’s nothing I can do’ or ‘That’s our company policy’ or ‘I only work here’ or ‘You’ve come through to wrong extension,’ only frustrate the customer. Some of these factors, of course, may not be because of anything the person can do; however, it is their attitude that will often create more of an annoyance with the customer than the policy itself. A simple solution to this is that whenever somebody has to be told they can’t do something, within the same sentence they have to know what they can do or may do.

The attitude that will work, if you can instill it, is that every single customer is your most important customer. Instead of seeing a customer for the transaction value that they spend at that time or for the nature of their enquiry, see the customer as a million dollar customer, somebody who has access to large revenue, either through their direct spending or indirectly through referrals and repeat 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.

Inflation and Disinflation


Fiscal policy is related to inflation, which occurs when the prices of goods and services rise steadily throughout the economy. Although many factors (such as increases in the prices of imported goods) contribute to inflation, government borrowing is major factor. When the government borrows great sums of money to bolster the economy, the total amount of money circulating tends to increase. With more money chasing the same quantity of goods and services, inflation increases too.

Theoretically, the government is supposed to pay back its debt during inflationary times, thereby taking some of the excess money out of the economy and slowing inflation to moderate level. This system worked throughout 1950s and 1960s, but during the 1970s, inflation kept building. By the end of the decade, prices were increasing by almost 14 percent a year.

Inflation of this magnitude brings an unproductive mind-set. People become motivated to buy “before the prices goes up,” even if they have to borrow money to do it. With greater competition for available money, interest rates increase to a level that makes business borrowing riskier and business expansion slower. Businesses and individuals alike begin spending on short-term items instead of investing in things like new factories and children’s education, which are more valuable to the nation’s economy in the long run.

Because of the peculiar psychology that accompanies high inflation, slowing it has always been difficult. In addition, the causes of inflation are complex, and the remedies can be painful. Nevertheless, several factors conspired to bring about a period of disinflation, a moderation in the inflation rate, during the 1980s.

Whether inflation will remain under control is debatable. The country is still vulnerable to outside shock. Bad weather could jack up food prices, and political upheavals could limit the supply and boost the price of vital raw materials. Also, government efforts to stimulate the economy could rekindle inflation. When the economy slumps, the government is inclined to increase the money supply, which tends to drive prices up.

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.

The Master Plan


Many people assume that a formal business plan is only for big time businesses. Wrong. A business plan is for anyone who wants to give their enterprise their best possible shot. It is where you detail out all the operational, marketing, and money matters of your business. It is, in essence, a road map. With it, you will better be able to reach your goal. Without it, you run the risk of spending precious time and money traveling in circles or unwittingly wandering into danger zones.

In response to the question, what a business plan is, follow the following”

  • A business plan is written by the home-based business owner with outside help as needed.
  • It is accurate and concise as a result of careful study.
  • It explains how the business will function in the marketplace.
  • It clearly depicts its operational characteristics.
  • It details how it will be financed.
  • It outlines how it will be managed.
  • It is the management and financial “blueprint” for startup and profitable operation.
  • It serves as a prospectus for potential investors and lenders.

A study for “why” of creating it, note:

  • The process of putting the business plan together, including the thought that you put in before writing it, forces you to take the objective, critical, unemotional look at your entire business proposal.
  • The finished written plan is an operational tool, which, when properly used, will help you manage your business and work toward its success.
  • The complete business plan is a means for communicating your ideas to others and provides the basis for financing your business.

While you are to be the author of the document, you shouldn’t hesitate to get professional help when it comes to areas outside your ken, such as accounting, insurance, capital requirements, operational forecasting, and tax and legal requirements. Finally, in response to the question, “When should Business Plan be used?” note:

  • To make crucial startup decisions
  • To reassure lenders and backers
  • To measure operational progress
  • To test planning assumptions
  • As a basis for adjusting forecasts
  • To anticipate ongoing capital and cash requirements
  • As the benchmark for good operational management

If you have been doing your research and homework all along, you probably have most of the raw material for the business plan, so it won’t be such an awesome task.

Business plans differ greatly, depending on the nature and scope of the enterprise. Some elements a person in a retail sales business would need in his or her business plan may be totally irrelevant for your service business. Similarly, business plans vary in length—from five or six pages or a virtual booklet; some are written in an engaging narrative style while others take another approach—just the facts. However, while business plans may differ in style, tone, length, and components, there is some common ground. Below is a list of items that should be in almost every business plan:

  • A summary of the nature of your business and its principal activity with a detailed description of the product(s) or service(s) you will offer.
  • A statement as to the form your business will take (sole proprietorship, partnership, incorporation) and how it will be managed and operated (with information on employees or subcontractors if applicable).
  • A discussion of any extra-ordinary (and potentially problematic) matters revolving around such things as space requirements, production processes, and operating procedures.
  • A discussion of major trends in your trade or profession.
  • A discussion of your competition and the basis on which you will compete.
  • A description of your target market that might include a profile of a typical customer or client.
  • A discussion of your plans for pricing, sales terms, and distribution.
  • A discussion of how you intend to advertise and promote your products or services.
  • A detailed statement of startup and operating costs for at least the first year.
  • A discussion of how your business will be financed.
  • Profit and loss and cash flow statements for at least the first year of business.

If this list has made a business plan seem all the more scary and arduous a task, don’t panic. There are books on the market that will guide you through the process.

A clean attractive business plan is a sine qua non if you will be applying for a loan or looking for investors. But even if the document is for your eyes only, you owe it to yourself to produce a professional-looking document. Since it is your road map, the neater it is the better it will serve you when you refer to it at various stages of your entrepreneurial journey.

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.

Advice to Entrepreneurs


Whether it is the best of economic times or the worst, being an outrageous consumer debt is fundamentally a foolish way to live. If you have that problem start making amends. Go on a money diet. Study your spending habits to see where you waste money. Is it eating out? Ordering in? Impulsive buying? Talking on the telephone? Too many ritual splurges? Take the money you would otherwise fritter away and apply it to your credit cards—one outstanding balance at a time. Of course, you don’t want to penny-pinch yourself into a state of low-grade misery, but you do want to get into the habit of living lean. Consider it a preset for the lifestyle you may need to adopt in the early stages of your business.

Reducing your debt serves several purposes: 1) starting a business is anxiety-producing and debt-incurring enough without beginning it with a lot of extra-business bills; 2) the closer to zero your charge card balances are, the more available credit you’ll have for business purchases and cash advances; 3) should you need a bank loan to capitalize your venture your prospects will be all the better.

If you don’t have a lot of credit card debt but are presently paying off a small loan (personal, educational, home equity) that is open-ended, go on the same diet and get rid of it. That is, beef up your payments against the principal of the loan in order to pay it off ahead of schedule and save yourself some interest payments in bargain.

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

Cost Productivity Allocation


Most organizations pay close attention only to costs. They track them, control them, and keep them at rock-bottom levels. This could be a mistake for two reasons: First, cost should not be detached from performance. Driving costs down for its own sake inevitably drives performance down. This causes productivity to drop in the long run. Second, there are many times when costs must be allowed to go up in order to achieve an important performance target.

 

The key question is where the money will come from if budgets are tight. Cost-productivity allocation is a technique for the reallocation of money to improve productivity. It works against the traditional, across-the-board percentage cuts, which remove the good with the bad. The proposed technique permits the identification of cost items that are critical and finds the small outlay of money needed to improve productivity.

 

The theoretical background of this technique is the analysis and reallocation of the following four cost categories:

1)      Cost avoidance – removing or eliminating a cost item that is anticipated and budgeted for but not expended.

2)      Cost reduction – reducing or decreasing the amount of a cost item that has been budgeted for and is a process of expenditure.

3)      Cost control – spending, but keeping the amount of a cost item within the budget standard.

4)      Cost effectiveness – increasing the spending allocated in a budget because it will improve performance or reduce costs in the long run.

 

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