The Ohio Auto Plant Conundrum

 I don’t know about you, but the political primaries have dominated much of my TV watching of late. As I watched the laid-off Ohio auto plant works moan and groan about their truly horrible situation, I was reminded of a parable sent me by a friend in the mortgage business.

A Modern Parable

A Japanese company ( Toyota ) and an American  company (Ford Motors) decided to have a canoe race on the Missouri  River.  Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak  performance before the race.

On the big day, the Japanese won by a mile.

The Americans, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat.  A management team made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action.

Their conclusion was the Japanese had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the American team had 7 people steering and 2 people rowing.

Feeling a deeper study was in order; American management hired a consulting company and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion.

They advised, of course, that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing.

Not sure of how to utilize that information,  but wanting to prevent another loss to the Japanese, the rowing team’s  management structure was totally reorganized to 4 steering supervisors,  2 area steering superintendents and 1 assistant superintendent steering  manager.

They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 2 people rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder.  It was called the ‘Rowing Team Quality First Program,’ with meetings, dinners and free pens for the rowers.  There was discussion of getting new paddles, canoes and other equipment, extra vacation days for practices and bonuses.  The pension program was trimmed to “equal the competition” and some of the resultant savings were channelled into morale boosting programs and teamwork posters.

The next year the Japanese won by two miles.

Humiliated, the American management laid-off one rower, halted development of a new canoe, sold all the paddles, and cancelled all capital investments for new equipment.  The money saved was distributed to the Senior Executives as bonuses.

The next year, try as he might, the lone designated rower was unable to even finish the race (having no paddles,) so he was laid off for unacceptable performance, all canoe equipment was sold and the next year’s racing team was out-sourced to India.

Sadly . . . the End.

Now here’s something else to think about: Ford has spent the last thirty years moving all its factories out of the U.S. , claiming they can’t make money paying American  wages.

TOYOTA has spent the last thirty years building more than a dozen plants inside the U.S.  The last quarter’s results:

TOYOTA makes 4 billion in profits while Ford racked up 9 billion in losses.

Ford folks are still scratching their heads and collecting bonuses……. 

When The Phone Rings II

If hard-sell tactics are part and parcel of your initial prospect contact and wonder why you aren’t getting to second base . . . You desperately need to understand, hard-sell tactics turn most people off! 

When a potential client calls, or you return a potential client’s call, hard-sell just doesn’t work, except maybe when you’re selling replacement windows to the 960 ranch market; don’t begin with a canned micro-presentation about your company, you, and what you have to offer. Instead begin the conversation on a specific problem that your service can solves. A problem which you already know exists because you asked the prospect what problem they need solved on your web page pre-qualification questionnaire. 

By addressing a problem you already know they have an intense desire to solve, you don’t come across sounding like a Tinman. You are not giving the prospect cause or reason to hang up . . . unless you are selling unsolicited replacement windows. You are giving them concrete information that directly relates to a problem they have freely and willingly expressed. This also leaves you in a much better position to set reasonable expectations.

What . . . you don’t have a pre-qualification page on your web site . . . no web site at all? Now’s the time to remedy that marketing malfunction Buck-O!

A Marketing Minute – Is The Customer Always Right?

It was about time to leave for a NARI meeting, and I was selecting a pair of pants from my closet, when much to my surprise, I pulled three pair in a row that must have belonged to “Too Tall Jones.” My thigh was bigger than the waist and the legs were clearly a foot longer than mine. Not that I would’ve minded fitting into any of the three, it would have meant my waist was about 32” and I was well over 6’6”, but it just wasn’t going to happen in this lifetime.

Hey, we all make mistakes, and I’d expect this kind of mistake from a cleaning establishment . . . probably happens all the time. Tomorrow I’ll just take these back and ask them to rectify the situation. That made sense . . . or so I thought.

The next morning I walked into the cleaner, the same cleaners I’ve been using since I moved to the neighborhood, said my hellos, after all it wasn’t like they didn’t know who I was after spending $50 a week there for more than two years, then I held up a pair for the pants that went from my arm pits to just brushing the floor, and the place broke into laughter. Everybody agreed they weren’t mine.

Well, if they weren’t mine, they had to belong to somebody now didn’t they? And it would follow that since this was the only dry cleaners I used, I must’ve gotten the ill fitting pairs from here. I mean after all, they were still in the plastic with, this is important, with the call tag stapled to the top with the cleaners’ name, address, and telephone number printed neatly across the top. Not a problem you’re thinking . . . right?

Nope . . . in spite of the evidence, the clerk refused to take them back and refused to discuss what reparations they were willing to make. The pants had a red tag stapled to a belt loop, and she pointed out most vociferously, that they never used red tags, only blue or green. I asked if this were their call tag and she agreed it was, but “we never use red tags,” she said. Back and forth went the conversation for 20 minutes or so, me pointing out their company call tag, she pointing out, “We never use red tags.”

So who won? The cleaners won the first round and I have the pants neatly hanging in my closet, unused forever. But they lost a true and loyal customer . . . me. I’d spent a substantial chunk of change in the establishment over the previous two years that I now was most assuredly going to spend somewhere else, but I’m sure the clerk sleeps much better now that she held firm in her conviction that they “never use red tags.”

The moral of the story is clear and the message is evident: The customers may not always be right, but they are ALWAYS the customers regardless the tag color.

Oh . . . does anyone want to swap three pairs of khakis with 42” waist and 30” inseam for three pairs with 32” waist and 36” inseams?