Friday, March 27, 2015

"You look maaarvelous!"

Ever decide you want to run for some kind of office and hire a campaign manager?The first likely bit of advice? “Dress impeccably every day because you’ll look much more powerful.” and as Fernando says. 
                                         It's better to look good than to feel good.

It’s all about image, most people realized long ago that to be successful you had to look the part and look good in corporate America. “People judge you on how you look, whether we like it or not,” 
The findings of the Elle/ Work & Power Survey when it comes to the attractiveness meter. Seem to bear this out yet again.  Good-looking bosses were found to be more competent, collaborative and better delegators than their less attractive counterparts, and most women believe they are judged in the workplace on the basis of their looks.

“Physical attractiveness creates a halo around a person,” said management psychologist Ken Siegel, summarizing a vast body of research. “We still place a premium on physical attractiveness as a mediator of other things, and we do not attribute favorable qualities to people we deem unattractive. It may even occur on an unconscious level.”

Good looks appeared significant to both men and women and the workplace. About 58 percent of female bosses who were rated as attractive got high marks for competence, compared with  41 percent of "average-looking" female bosses and only 23 percent of unattractive supervisors. Among people with male bosses, 61 percent who rated their supervisors as good-looking also found them competent, compared with 41 percent for the average types and 25 percent for those rated unattractive.

As a business owner and supply chain member how does your company present itself? 
If your are not sure then take a look at what your customers see?
  • What does your website say? 
  • How does your customer communication look? 
  • Are your invoices/packing slips/ emails consistent? 
  • Are they branded and do you include a logo? 
  • Does it make your business look your best every day? 
If you can change your look you can make customers perceive you differently.
 “This is more about looking polished, which translates into professional-looking,” 

Daniel Hamermesh, an economist at the University of Texas, has long written about “pulchronomics”. In “Beauty Pays” he reckons that, over a lifetime and assuming today's mean wages, a handsome worker in America might on average make $230,000 more than a very plain one. There is evidence that attractive workers bring in more business, so it often makes sense for firms to hire them. Whether rewarding them accordingly—and paying their less attractive peers more stingily—is good for society is another matter.

But the model is still true on the business front. Looking good is paramount in business and making sure you look your best is always a big part of your marketing and sales efforts.

So the next time your look at your company remember what fernando says and take the time to make sure your communications are looking their best.

For more information on TSH or MDS call The Systems House, Inc. at 1-800- MDS-5556. Or send a message to
Click here and tell us how we can help you with your business solutions.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Can Companies Find Love In B2B Markets?

Passionate customers who love doing business with you: that’s an aspiration that only matters to consumer-market companies, right? Some social media or era company that sends free promotional items out constantly? 
Image result for find loveAfter all, clear-eyed purchasing buyers at Health care, Business and industrial customers don’t put much stock in loyalty. They base their decisions on a cold assessment of product features and price. Right?

Think again. What we all know in the small business world has been validated yet again. It turns out that even in business-to-business markets, customer loyalty can accelerate growth and create a competitive advantage. 
In studies of loyalty metrics for B2B companies the following key elements were found:

  • Customers who are “promoters” of a company have an average lifetime value between three and 12 times that of “detractors,”
  • Promoters stay longer with the company, buy more products, usually cost less to serve and are more likely to refer the supplier to colleagues.
  • Greater loyalty correlates closely with higher market share, a higher share of the customer’s spending and higher profitability.

As a result, B2B loyalty leaders tend to grow four to eight percentage points above their market’s annual growth.

Image result for loyaltyBut loyalty has become an even tougher nut to crack: In a recent survey by Bain & Company of 290 executives in B2B industries throughout 11 countries, two-thirds of respondents said customers are less loyal than they used to be. The challenge of building loyal customers is compounded by the structure of B2B industries, with their complicated channel structures, concentrated buyer communities and large accounts with many people influencing the relationship. 

Despite the challenges, some B2B companies have managed to earn strong loyalty. What do they have in common?

First, they identify the things that truly delight or annoy customers through short, frequent surveys after key episodes such as a new contract negotiation. When they market to distributors or other intermediaries, they also seek out feedback from retailers and end users.

Tata Steel’s Wire Division (TSWD), for instance, has long marketed steel wires to distributors in India, but the company tended to view its end users as a homogeneous group. It didn’t know how different types of farmers and growers used the wire and what features were most valuable to them. As the market grew more competitive, TSWD realized it needed a better understanding of its end users. Working closely with its distributors, TSWD spoke with 1,100 end users and more than 200 retailers, contractors and other influencers.

These conversations revealed that some customers were willing to pay more for premium products. Some farmers prized durability because if the wire broke, entire rows of grapes would fall and rot. Others valued ease of installation, so that they could install a fence in one section of the farm for a crop’s growing season, then dismantle it and reinstall it elsewhere for a new  crop.

This sort of customer feedback helps B2B companies decide where to place their bets. At TSWD, feedback from farmers and retailers led the company to design a new wire product with an advanced protective coating for durability. Sub-branded as “Farming Gold,” the wire comes with a 15-year warranty, approval by an external testing lab and a price 25% higher than the existing product. Now that early results show Farming Gold to be one of the most profitable wire products in TSWD’s portfolio, the company is working on sub-brands for security-conscious and do-it-yourself customer segments.

Bringing the voice of the customer into B2B marketing decisions also requires other departments to collaborate more closely with one another and with external partners. 

Your technology provider is a key partner in this mix providing both the tools and the analytics to process this information and make informed decisions to help your build your product mix and satisfy the Voice of the Customer. 

Business buyers often demonstrate the same intense advocacy for a trusted supplier that consumers show for their favored brand of shoes or smartphone. The payoff: Many leaders in industries ranging from manufacturing to financial services to health care are relying on loyalty to grow their business.

How can you build the same kind of loyalty that drives people to that yet another iPhone? or stick to a particular super market chain or store? 
Do you have the tools and the capability today? And are your using them effectively? 

For more information on TSH or MDS call The Systems House, Inc. at 1-800- MDS-5556. Or send a message to
Click here and tell us how we can help you with your business solutions.

Friday, March 13, 2015

How flexible are your business policies?

When team leaders or team members in your organization bump up against poor policies or unrealistic targets, what do they do?
Image result for brick wallDo they shoot up a flare and engage people in solving these issues, promptly? Or, do they ignore those policies or targets, swim upstream against the organizational current, and do the right thing? Or do they go along, compliant to the poor policies or unrealistic targets, saying, “It’s not my job to fix that,” etc.?
By far the most common reaction is the last one: employees compliantly enforce the poor policies and align to the unrealistic targets. Some team members do the right thing for customers or peers. Sometimes their efforts stay below the radar, but sometimes their efforts are discovered and they are redirected to align/adhere to the existing policies and targets.
Too few team members proactively engage people in addressing these issues.
Does your organization have poor policies or unrealistic targets in place today? It’s likely there are some — and every employee knows which policies and targets are the ones that need to change.
How do these policies come into being? In many cases the policies made sense when they were created. And, as time passed, the policies simply don’t make sense anymore. How do these targets come into being? In many cases organizational leaders set targets that make sense and are easy to measure. Over time, however, the targets become unrealistic if they actually inhibit the desired level of service and employee productivity.
Are you a member of a company who has a call center as part of their customer-relations system. Years ago, call center “best practices” set a time limit for team members to beat when on the phone with customers. The arbitrary time limit often meant that employees would rush to answer customer questions to beat their time limit. Many operators simply disconnected so that call would finish under the time limit. 
It was, unfortunately, easy to measure the length of time of a customer call. What was tough to measure was whether customers felt heard and had their question or concerns addressed.
A recent example in the news in the US are allegations that the Phoenix Veterans Affairs hospital delayed treatment of sick veterans. Efforts are underway to investigate charges that the hospital tried to hide that more than 1400 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor. The official list sent to VA officials showing that the Phoenix VA hospital was meeting the target of providing care to patients in a timely manner (14 to 30 days). The secret electronic list tracked the reality, that waits of over 20 months were common.
Image result for change management
As quality expert W. Edwards Deming said, “A bad system will beat a good person every time.”
How can you eliminate poor policies? Make crushing these policies a valued activity and reward those who bring them up.
Stress the need for data and examples to back them up,  unless you want a flood of people telling you how short fridays are good for your customers.

But understand that nothing is set in stone and using your common sense when servicing a client is a major differentiator in todays data driven world.

We all work off metrics but when the metrics are not there it's important to recognize it and change quickly and efficiently.

Make sure your IT partner understands this as well when you build out your systems with hold and process management to make sure everyone adheres to your policy don't forget to build in some flexibility and communicate how to modify the business processes with your IT folks.

In the long run those policies will become a living breathing entity and will make your company stronger and better able to adapt to our ever changing markets.

For more information on TSH or MDS call The Systems House, Inc. at 1-800- MDS-5556. Or send a message to
Click here and tell us how we can help you with your business solutions.

Friday, March 6, 2015

If a tree falls in the forest...

  1. "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" 
Too much inventory or not enough? 

OK it may not be on the same level, but for most supply chain professionals the questions both evoke the same thought provoking discussions and struggles. 

It’s the eternal struggle at the heart of effective supply chain management, but it’s an equation organizations continually get wrong. 

It’s a typical situation; a business holds too much inventory, so attempts to reduce it, inventory is cut to an acceptable level, only to find, a few weeks later, customers can’t get the products they want. So ramp up and buy extra for the next few months. The result? They end up with more inventory than they started with.
But it doesn't have to be like this. Just follow these simple tips:
• Understand your inventory. Trying to remove inventory without tackling the root cause is like tackling the symptoms of an illness before the diagnosis. First you must understand why it’s there in the first place. The inventory you hold today is typically a consequence of the decisions made months, years, even decades ago – many of which are forgotten with the passage of time.
So understanding what you have and why you have it is the first step.
• Look to the future. To avoid making the same mistakes as your predecessors, you need to look beyond the immediate execution window and consider all supply variables before making decisions. An integrated supply management process can help to achieve this. An Integrated ERP Solution is the heart of this and having good data is key to being able to look to future goals. 
• Remember the great unwatched. All too often organizations rush straight in to removing visible inventory (cycle stock, safety stock, pre-stocking and hedging stock), when it’s on the rest - the great unwatched - which can make up as much as 25 per cent, where efforts should be concentrated.
• Consider your service offering. In an ideal world every organisation would have 100 per cent service levels; the reality is many can ill afford this and have to settle for 93 per cent at best. (One standard of deviation , see our inventory management posts if you have no idea what this means)
 A small drop in service levels can have a significantly positive effect on inventory levels, although of course for some this is not an option. Performance benchmarking can determine what an acceptable service level for the market is. and you can alway build in outriders based upon customer needs and market analysis. 
• Change your cycle time. Long purchasing cycels can aid operating efficiency, but result in cycle stock. Consider making half as much, twice as often; this can result in a company not only becoming more responsive to the market, but also significantly reduce cycle stock. Think amazon prime and next day what you can as long as it's not impacting performance really look at if this item needs to be stocked or adding an additional day to bring it in and turn it around. The MDS-Nx Next Day Vendor Shipment management function lends itself to giving you to tools to manage your new virtual inventory.
• Invest in safety capacity. Most organisations see inventory as their only option to buffer poor supply performance and provide the flexibility to satisfy unforecasted  demand. But investing in safety capacity can be a cheaper option; reducing planned capacity slightly and having the ability to ramp it up when demand requires can provide a good alternative. For those items where a next day cycle doesn't work or it may be speculative look at automatically increasing the safety stock levels. This allow for more of an item that will sell eventually and provides better service levels to your existing customers. 
• Vary your safety stock. Many businesses carry a generic weeks coverage model of safety stock for every product in their portfolio, but it’s important to consider the significance of each product. Some popular products may require a lower level of safety stock, whereas others with higher variability require more. on a supplier or vendor basis it's important to track lead time as well as on time performance for a 100% on time next day vendor you can almost eliminate safety stock saving you both warehouse space and money. 
• Effect cultural change. It’s vital that demand and supply take joint ownership of inventory. For this, you must eliminate blame culture. Plenty of people are involved in inventory management; from those who effect financial change, to those in planning frequency and safety stock. These people are the organization’s most powerful weapon when it comes to inventory management, so clearly define their roles and equip them with the knowledge to apply best practices. Think about a reward program the integrate sales and purchasing allowing them to collaborate to decrease carrying costs and stockouts together.

For more information on TSH or MDS call The Systems House, Inc. at 1-800- MDS-5556. Or send a message to
Click here and tell us how we can help you with your business solutions.