17 August 2007

Another food outlet

Many UK golf clubs have had a thin time over the last few years. Some of them have decided that they should do something positive to increase their attendance and bar sales, so they have made a real effort to develop their restaurant's offering at evenings and week-ends.

Last week-end I was a guest at a club who were running with this idea. The quality of the meal was excellent, the prices in the menu appeared to be from an earlier age, and the bar prices were low, too. The good news for the club is that the restaurant is full and bar income has increased substantially so there are real benefits to the club. That isn't to say that it would be a successful tactic for all golf clubs - it requires a well-equipped kitchen and a capable chef supported by sufficient support staff. For some clubs however, it can make substantial difference to trading income.

Labels: ,

16 August 2007

Getting the budget right

I've talked before about the problems of cutting costs in complex organisations. One of the things that I didn't mention is that arbitrary cost cuts can cause a good deal of internal debate as well as loss of morale.

I was reminded of this earlier today when two middle managers were describing the approach being taken to next year's budget. They were highly critical but were uncertain that there would be an opportunity to ensure that the cuts were made in what they saw as 'less essential' areas.

Whether those managers were right about the nature of the process, the fact that they have become emotionally committed to an outcome which is different from the existing proposal creates a loss of efficiency within the organisation. Budgetting processes need to be capable of bringing these middle managers along so that they can feel part of the process and accept the outcomes.

14 August 2007

What does a product recall cost?

At the beginning of July, I noted that finding a low cost supplier in a far off country wasn't guaranteed to keep input costs low. Maintaining quality over long supply chains is difficult.

Mattel is a business that is learning the lesson the hard way. Here the problem is not simply the cost of the recalls themselves, but also the damage to Mattel's brand - reputational risk is often talked about, but the real costs are very difficult to estimate, particularly since it can take a long period for the full impact to emerge.

Labels: , ,

08 August 2007

The customer contact problem

While on holiday I met some people who don't use mobile text messages - they claimed not to know how to access them on their phones. That can be a problem for an organisation which may assume that because it has a customer's mobile phone number, it can use it to send text messages that will be read.

Customer contact is strongly in the permission marketing area and if a customer hasn't given you permission to use a particular contact channel then you may well be wasting your time. The message may not be seen or worse, be filtered through a veil of annoyance that the company has used a channel that the customer finds irritating. It's no surprise that so many people sign up with the mail, fax and telephone preference services. They do it because they don't like the approaches, or they don't like the channels.

Labels: ,

Don't ignore SPAM

I have just come back from a few days holiday and was welcomed on my return by 1783 messages in my SPAM inbox totalling 12.2 Mb. It would be easy to delete it all without reviewing it, but I thought I would take a few minutes to see if there was anything valuable there.

Of the total, only one message shouldn't have been listed as SPAM (a false positive) so that means that the filters are working pretty accurately, but I still get quite a lot of false negatives in my normal inbox (messages which are cleared as good but which are still SPAM).

The point of the post is that SPAM is a problem because it can bury normal mail.

One of the organisations I have been working with recently has a website which allows its customers to complete transactions online. Once the transaction is completed on the webpage, the transaction is sent to the organisation's main email address and is processed as soon as the office opens. That has proved to be popular with some of its customers and the number of transactions processed in this way has been growing rapidly. However, on examining their SPAM inbox they found that a number of the transactions emailed to them from their own website had been categorised as SPAM (a false positive problem). What makes it more difficult is that their problem is subtle - there doesn't seem to be a clear distinction between the transactions which correctly find their way to the inbox and those which have been declared as SPAM.

So, don't ignore your SPAM inbox - there may well be something in there which is valuable to you.