In a recent seminar the instructor said, “Don’t be connected
emotionally to your business. If it’s not working out, shut it down and walk
away.” Isn’t passion an important ingredient to success? If I’m not emotionally
engaged with my business I won’t enjoy or be able to grow it. How do you see it?
LA: Desire for what one does is an essential ingredient for
any successful project. Desire can make you go the distance and push boundaries
that others don’t see possible to move. Desire keeps that spark in your eyes
alive. However, desire has an evil sister that has the power to make you not
see a broken bone in the x-ray so you go and play that game to only end up
badly hurt and never play again. The seductive and wild Ms. Desire usually
hangs with her two loyal friends, the lovely and rare Ms. Opportunity and the
powerful and mighty Mr. Ability. Usually, when the three are having fun it’s a
good. The problem happens when one of trio is sick or decides to quit the band.
Ask yourself this:
what’s good about having desire if there’s no market (i.e. opportunity) that
allows you to sell and grow? What if you’re passionate about something and
there’s big demand for it, but you don’t have the knowhow to produce it or
manage the ones who can? Desire has to be viewed in perspective to the
availability of strong opportunity and ability. With desire alone you might end
up beating a dead horse thinking it will eventually get up; while in reality,
it’s simply dead and you’re too blind to see it…and that’s just my two cents.
I can tell that some of our customers are
lying to replace some pieces or get freebies. How can we stop this abuse
without breaking “the customer is always right” philosophy?
LA: To start with, it’s refreshing to see that you and your
company are committed to customers. Some customers will always take advantage
of flexible policies; it’s a fact. However, that doesn’t mean your company
should punish all customers because of the acts of a few. So, let’s talk
options. Assuming that there’s nothing wrong with your products, it’s possible
that they’re returning them because they don’t suit their needs anymore.
Putting good intentions aside, you need first to examine the incidents. Are the
same customers repeating this behavior over and over? Or is it that many
customers are returning their purchases once?
If it’s the same
customers, let them know through direct marketing tools or upon their next
purchase that due to their repeated exchanges a fee will be applied for the
next exchange. If they don’t like it and walk away, you got rid of bad customers.
If they stop the abuse to avoid the fees, it’s a win-win. It could be that many
customers exchange pieces for whatever reason and they’re doing it only once,
but it’s the large volume of returns that’s giving you the kind of headache
that Panadol can’t cure. In this case, ask your customers about the reasons
behind the returns. What might seem as abuse could be an indication for
something more important like wrong product selection, poor customer assistance
at the time of purchase, lack of clear product information or something even
more dramatic…and that’s just my two cents.
Consequences of the natural disasters in Japan found their way
to our market. Our company sells Japanese electronics and the factory told us
they are stopping production for about two months for safety reasons. Our
losses in the coming months will be devastating. Is there anything we can do?
LA: Go on sale. No, hold your horses, I’m just kidding.
Actually, make sure to avoid any sale or discount-based promos under any
circumstances until stock is back up again by the manufacturer. Discounts eat
profit margins alive like a Grizzly gobbling up a fresh and kicking trout. You
need all the profit you can collect to sustain yourself in the coming period.
Having said this, you might want to consider going on promo. This time, I’m
talking about a Future Sales. Picture this: “Buy your dream TV in interest-free
installments over five months for just 20% a month!” The catch is that
customers will receive their TV only after paying for it in full. Meanwhile,
you’re collecting cash upfront for products you don’t have in stock yet. This
promo will work only if customers prefer your brand to others and really want
it but can’t afford it in one chunk.
If your brand is
average among competition from the consumer perspective, a sale might be in
order, but again only for future orders as in the explained promo. This time,
you’ll have to give above market discounts against delivering in five or six
months from now. You might also want to consider an after-sales direct campaign
with existing customers where you can fix their old units or visit their homes
for a performance check against a small fee. If all fails, turn to your cash
reserve to weather the storm. But whatever you do, don’t commit Seppuku, a form
of stomach-cutting suicide. The Japanese are notorious for landing on their
feet. This dark cloud will pass…and that’s just my two cents.
For Loaay Ahmed’s
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