Got business problems or challenges at work? With his Two Cents page, Loaay Ahmed shares his expertise in strategic management consulting to help managers, employees and entrepreneurs thrive.
Q: I went to a medical treatment facility/resort in Thailand. It benefited me a lot. I want to make it available for the Kuwait market but I don’t like the fact that it’s another imported idea. Should I start my own brand and hire professionals or play it safe and import an existing business?
Everyone needs to eat. Let’s open a restaurant. You’ll be surprised how many entrepreneurs started a business based on that assumption. You’re not the first one to travel for medical treatment in a resort in another country. Have you asked yourself why such a service hasn’t been made available locally yet? Maybe it’s not financially feasible. Maybe it’s not that profitable on a franchise business model. Maybe people like the idea of traveling and getting treated in a resort rather than a medical facility. Maybe not many people like the idea in the first place. Maybe local regulations don’t allow such facilities to operate. Maybe you’ve got the next big market-changing idea for the market and you should start it immediately. Maybe a franchise is better since it’s trusted. Maybe a new business is better since it’s local. Just maybe.
Either choice you take doesn’t matter if you don’t validate your assumption first. “I benefited from the treatment, therefore, everyone else will jump on the idea” is nothing but an assumption. It could be right or wrong. So, instead of asking if you should go with a new business or a franchise, ask the main target audience segment of this business’ potential customers about their needs and wants. If not so many people suffer from the same symptoms and are willing to try your recommended treatment your business will not be sustainable. Once you know that there’s a need, only then can you ask them which direction they prefer. Their insights might inspire you to come up with a different business model all together…and that’s just my two cents.
Q: A new hire has been with us for only month and I noticed how inconsistent he is with his performance. Some days, he’s a go-getter. Other days, he’s almost a zombie. Should we just let him go or work with him to improve the number of up days?
Two people fell in love and got married. They chose to be together. So, why do they divorce each other years later? If most of their days were on the upside, life goes on. It’s human nature to have friction with those who are in close proximity. Problems grow out of control when most of the days are on the downside. This is where the couple realizes their incompatibility to coexist. So, before your rush and ask your HR for the divorce papers, see if your new employee’s down days are the norm or the exception. If they are the norm and talking to him doesn’t change anything, then maybe you’re not meant to be for each other. However, if his down days are the exception, find out why they exist and whether there’s something related to work that’s causing him to skip a beat.
The critical aspect of inconsistency is that it creates an atmosphere of unreliability and that’s dangerous for any work environment. Sometimes inconsistent behavior is caused by personal problems, insecurity at work, fear of making mistakes, and more. Regardless of the reasons, this issue has to be cured. It is damaging to the employee’s own professional reputation to give mixed signals about reliability to their bosses. Managers depend on people who are engaged in and capable of achieving their work objectives and solving challenges all the time – emergencies aside – and not just part of the time…and that’s just my two cents.
Q: We have high customer satisfaction rates. Isn’t that enough of a sign that we’re on the right track as far as being a customer centric company?
What’s interesting is that seven out of ten managers think they know what their customers want while their customers tell a different story about their needs and wants. But knowing what customers want is only half the step, you need to examine your current processes and see what needs to be changed or eradicated to give customers what they want in easy and delightful ways. That’s what being truly customer centric is about. You do what you do with the customers’ interest in mind, not just the shareholders. And in my book, the two should be in parallel directions not opposite ones.
As for customer satisfaction, no it is not enough. Various research papers show that on average about 40% of satisfied customers leave the companies they purchase from and go to their competitors. Companies can’t look at customer satisfaction metrics as a retention tool. They need to see it as an operational benchmark that compares between the promises made to prospects and what’s delivered according to that promise. If the delivery matches or exceeds the promise, then your customers are satisfied. How you keep customers in business with you has nothing to do with their satisfaction of previous transactions…and that’s just my two cents.
For Loaay Ahmed’s advice on business or work matters, send a short email to [email protected]. Regrettably, only the questions chosen for publishing will be answered.
Loaay Ahmed is a management adviser and strategic expert. To learn more about Loaay and his consulting service, strategic business therapy, visit www.knightscapital.com.