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Cash cows and commodity product.

Power, Insurance, Banking, High volume consumer goods, even groceries are all becoming increasingly commoditised, where the base product price is set at the minimum level throughout the market. Companies providing these products can’t differentiate in features and. Benefits because the base product is the one that meets the needs of the majority and cost is the central decision factor. Rapid information flows and the ability to compare means distribution, place, and timing have little or no impact on costs either. Intermediation tends to either disappear, or coalesce around niches and the top of the markets – the rest of us have to self serve.

The markets have sought to introduce things to find profits in other ways, now that the core product margins have been squeezed to drive the headline price down. Household insurance, for example, now comes with many add-ons (legal cover, home emergency, etc) and gimmicks, like auto renewal. Banking may come with monthly fees and rolled in benefits like insurances, and roadside assistance.

Then the games start, companies have a book of business on auto-renewal or monthly fees rely on inertia, and start raising the price of the product for some elements of the customer base. Our household cover has sneaked up in price over the last 3 years, whilst the cost of cover in the commodity market has been falling. Breaking inertia saved us nearly £300 this year.

Businesses won’t generally help you if their product has been commoditised. There’s no margin left for additional customer service, and when they create extra margin they tend to keep schtum about it.

If you are only prepared to pay for self service the it’s worth asking if you are serving yourself well enough.
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Start leading instead of doings people’s jobs for them

Start-leading-blog-image-Abelard
Well, I must admit I was quite tempted to use much stronger language in that headline….even a 4 letter word presented itself in my head – shock, horror.

However, as I believe strongly in passion in leadership, and not in ‘losing it’ I decided to keep it milder.  The point I’m aiming to make is no less strong for it.

I find it amazing/stunning/frustrating/frightening – depending on my experience of the state of leadership in companies I come across at the time – that in the 21st Century, 14 years in, there are still a lot of CEOs and C-Suite Executives heading companies of a not inconsiderable size, who believe that ‘leading is something that you do once you’re done doing your job’.

Ridiculous, I hear you say?  Surely no-one believes that anymore? Well, if they don’t believe it, they are sure doing an excellent job of living it.

So let’s have a little heart-to-heart and take a closer look at yourself, then…

What are you spending the majority of your time on?  How much of your time is spent in conversation/dialogue with your direct reports?  Their reports? The majority of your workforce on the ground?

What is the content of those conversations?  Tactical day-to-day? Short term strategic matters?  Long term growth strategy?  Developments in your market/industry/the economy?  The key financial drivers of your business?

When have you last discussed and planned strategic alignment of personal/team/department objectives with the long term growth plan?  Matching roles and present and future capabilities to delivery of that growth plan? What about personal development of your people to fill those roles successfully?

How much of your time do you think should be devoted to dealing with issues arising for your people?  Preparing for those issues arising?  Preventing them from arising?

How much of your time do you currently spend on these matters?  What’s stopping you from matching the time you said you SHOULD spend?  What are the consequences to your business of not addressing that gap…?

So, tell me again, what is your job as the leader of your business?

For more on this, go to http://haywoodmann.co.uk/services/leadership-development/


Nicole Bachmann is a multi-lingual, masterful coach and facilitator, who designs, tailors and runs highly effective leadership development programmes for teams and senior executives

uk.linkedin.com/in/nicolebachmann/
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The business of winning Formula 1

I watched the Grand Prix at the weekend, it was the penultimate race of the season. Mercedes have dominated this year in a year of significant rule changes in the sport. They have the best engines in the best car and have two of the best drivers vying to be world champion. So far so good. Those two drivers raced hard to get ahead of each other. Too hard at times.

The track at Brazil is abrasive, and tyres simply don’t last when pushed to the limit. In the lap when race leader Nico Rosberg was having a pit stop for new tyres, opponent Hamilton was told to ‘push’. A couple of really quick laps and he might manage to take the lead with a super fast pitstop. On the second of his push laps his tyres gave up, and he lost valuable time spinning off the track.

Here’s the thing, neither could win the championship in that race, but Rosberg could effectively have lost it (although not quite mathematically). His timing was better, he pushed hard to get pole and did so, he pushed hard to get the lead into the first corner, and did so, and then he controlled his destiny. A great example of strategic planning, and faultless implementation.

In business too, if we push hard to beat our opponents but get our timing wrong, if we fail to have a well designed strategic plan, or if we implement sub-optimally, then when we push to make good, some parts of the business may simply not take the strain. We may have to let one race go in order to focus on a better strategy and to take time to practice so that we know how to implement effectively.

One race may be over, the future still beckons.

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