Notable Considerations When Shopping For a Hockey Jersey

Hockey is one of the coolest sports man has ever invented. Just like basketball or baseball, this fight-for-the-puck game never failed to glue fans on the television or get stadiums overcrowded. Moreover, just like all other sports, it brings in a fan the rage of shopping for a hockey jersey to show support for his or her favorite team, or just to show off that he or she got one. This sports clothing has its own mark that reflects the sports it is worn for. Traditionally, it is referred to as a “sweater” since it is originally made from wool–a material used in making a sweater. Today, it is still called “sweater” in some places but is now dominantly referred to as “jersey”.

When shopping for jerseys, people oftentimes go to the web first. This is because websites which sell jerseys offer them at a more affordable price than those sold in malls. Moreover, these sites usually come with discount promos for the items they sell. Since most people, for sure, have their own favorite hockey team, hockey jerseys that are bought don’t just go blank. It is bought with the favorite team’s name and the favorite player’s number. Getting one with this perks however comes with an additional price thus some important considerations are needed.

Generally, there are two kinds of jerseys available in the market: one is the wholesale replicas which are sold at a cheaper rate and the other is the authentic jerseys. These two types have no obvious differences aside from their price but when given a closer look, authentic ones are always tailored better and come with a higher quality. The only downside of these however is that they are really expensive compared to replica uniforms. Now that you know that buying a hockey uniform requires a significant investment, the choice of buying the type you want is all up to you.

Keep in mind however that timeliness is always a concern in jerseys and that they often get outdated fast. Some people, for practical reasons prefer replicas or blank ones because they are both cheaper and safer. Meanwhile, regardless of the type you choose, buying online would still cut you large heap of costs. This is because aside from it saves you from going around malls and tiring yourself, it also allows you to check the availability of your team’s uniform at rocket speed. You can save time and gas money because you can always browse multiple websites while at home.

The drawback in buying online however is that you don’t get to have a look at the quality until it gets delivered to you. The only measures you can rely on are the reviews and comments about the site. This minor snag calls for a careful look at online stores and a certain amount of vigilance. To be sure, you can ask for referrals from your friends on where to buy a jersey.

Shopping for a hockey jersey is no walk in the park. Remember that shopping means spending cash. The world today requires practicality and this requirement makes no exemption so you better make a good judgment before buying the jersey you want.

For more information about gifts online, you can review at Irish Gifts store.

Great Before Tips For Jersey Shopping

There are many places online that are very good for whoever is looking to buy soccer jerseys, either replica or originals. There are many places online that are very good for whoever is looking to buy soccer jerseys, either replica or originals. It is, however, important that you know what you have to keep in mind as you go ahead to look for the Argentina jersey you crave for. The first thing you need to keep in mind before you bid on any Spain jersey you may have spotted is that there are many other options too. It is, therefore, important that you consider reviewing all options that you have for cheap tracksuits or cheap soccer shoes. This is, also, important for consideration within the specific site because there may be many options to pick from in terms of quality and price. You, also, need to be cautious of the prices they offer you on whichever site you may have picked. This is effective in showing you the list of auction that have taken place and sort for you the prices. Whether it is an ac milan jersey 2013 or even the recent success of Manchester city jersey 2013, it is necessary to check prices as well. Following such statistics will, also, help you to identify the left-over or the football stuff that was not sold for example the arsenal jersey. It is, also, very important that as you check out the auctions, you take note of the completed ones and logically reason in terms of the retailer’s offers. This is important so that, you are able to figure out how to avoid those with less or no auctions on any of their stock. It does not matter whether they had a large Argentina jersey or Spain jersey, that should not be a reason to have them lack auctions and so you need to walk away. Other than these tips, you should also make sure you check out your trader of dealer for the needed cheap soccer shoes or jerseys. You should pay close attention to what the reviews by customer are saying about them; if the feedback is not all negative, you need to think twice before going for their cheap tracksuits offer. You should, basically, keep in mind that you need not to be biased but let your research be your guide to selecting the right source of your Spain jersey. It is important that as you make your decisions after research, you have a stand so that you are not swayed in terms of price. That means if you quote a reasonable price for the Argentina jersey, you need not move higher than that. You, also, need to be cautious to bid at the last minute so as to secure better offers because early bidding may shoot the prices higher than previously expected and ruin your chances of getting cheap tracksuits. It is important, therefore, to take you time before bidding and the same way, take you time to pay for a won auction. This is a consideration you should make when the seller has few auctions on the cheap soccer shoes they are selling.

Shore Accommodation in New Jersey – Houses, Serviced Apartments and Real Estate in Sea Isle

A collection of interesting activities are offered in Sea-Isle for visitors, apart from wide-ranging lots of accommodation to match. Given that it’s a beach region, where the experience is augmented by boundless sand and elemental splendor, the focal point of attention is often the water.

Five marinas that provide boat rentals and a plethora of ocean-sport shops are testament to how afternoons spent at the coast won’t be limited to building sandcastles and splashing in the shallows. For those rather apathetic towards the maritime, landlubber ideas like games of tennis and museums are on offer: the Sea-Isle Museum offers a singular glimpse on this bit of the New Jersey boundary, possessing many antique furniture and curios that connect to the history of Sea Isle’s inhabitants.

The taste buds won’t go unsatisfied in any case: a lot of restaurants are to be found in the region, many of them Italian-fare and fish outlets. A fair number are family-owned and retain specific repute for their specialties, including the Lobster Loft Restaurant. Bars and lounge spaces are slightly less regular, but several lodging institutions serve up their individual in house lounge rooms. It’s to be noted that the high-traffic duration in the district is in July and August: the city is relatively peaceful and rates are usually expected to drop quite a bit in other months.

In Sea Isle City, it is not too tasking to uncover a residence to stay at, as a plethora of Sea-Isle rental choices are available to visitors. Villas and serviced apartments are all around the place thanks to profligate agents at usually competitive price offers. Co-sharing can reduce the price of accommodation dramatically, but there are decent discounts in the real estate sector to be found, primarily during less-than-peak times. Options range from typical seaside motels to bed-and-breakfast serviced apartments and water’s-edge lodges, taking into account aesthetes’ desires and wallet sizes of all sorts.

Other listings and guides to do with Sea-Isle real estate are to be found by surfing for agents or real estate corporations, including Sea Winds, on the Net.

Hillsborough, New Jersey Real Estate – Great Reasons to Buy!

Hillsborough is within an hour of New York City and about and hour and a half from Philadelphia, it is located in the center of Somerset County, one of the most picturesque and affluent counties in the nation.

Here are some reasons for you to consider investing in Hillsborough New Jersey –

1. It is a fantastic place to live (it placed 23rd in CNN Money Top 100 Best Places to Live for 2007). Hillsborough has a good mix of homes ranging from $160,000 for one bedroom condos up to listings for estates with 15 acres and more for over $1.5 million and everything in between.

2. Hillsborough also has a good mixture of suburban and rural areas, almost half of the 54 square miles of the township is either preserved open space or working farms. Yet with all this beauty, there is a center corridor which has all the stores you could think of.

3. Hillsborough is also located only a few miles from Bridgewater to the north, with Princeton (13 miles) to the south and the Route 1 corridor to the east, you also have access to dozens of malls and shopping centers. Flemington, NJ, which is known for its outlet stores, is a few miles to the west. There are also some excellent local restaurants and many other places for entertainment are throughout Hillsborough and surrounding areas. Parks, ball fields and hiking trails also dot the landscape just to name a few.

4. There are also many hiking trails that traverse through the beautiful woodlands of the Sourland Mountain Preserve to the heart of New Jersey. The town also has many parks including one with four baseball diamonds and three soccer fields, making it an ideal place for recreational activities for the whole family.

5. In today’s economy, there is a huge supply of great Hillsborough New Jersey real estate to choose from. It really is a buyers market with prices down as much as 10-20% from their highs of a few years ago, and if you combine that with the record low mortgage interest rates that are also available, now is certainly the right time to look at investing.

It is also worth mentioning that building your own home is now more affordable than ever due to new builder incentives that are on offer. In fact, to counter the negative impact that falling house prices are having on the industry,some builders are offering huge rebate packages and extra incentives. Building your own home is now a better proposition than ever before.

Corporate Culture Best Practices: Zappos

Zappos demonstrates a unique approach to employee empowerment, corporate culture and everyday life at the office. On a neverending mission for a specific pair of shoes, I came across a number of articles related to the corporate culture at Zappos. After being acquired by Amazon, the online retailer continues to maintain the values and culture that have been with the company since the very beginning. New hires at Zappos receive 5 weeks of training in the areas of culture, core values, customer service and the company warehouse. The focus on culture is integrated into all departments, employee roles, performance reviews, mission, vision and goals at Zappos.
How Culture Survived an Acquisition

In July of 2009, Amazon announced they would acquire Zappos in a stock and cash deal, which ended up totaling $1.2 billion dollars when finalized. A Tech Crunch article, “Amazon Closes Zappos Deal, Ends Up Paying $1.2 Billion,” reported that “the Zappos management team will remain intact and the company will continue to operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary.” Zappos continues to operate separately from Amazon, providing CEO Tony Hsieh with the ability to manage the company the same as it was in the pre-acquisition days. The terms of the arrangement with Amazon has made it easier for Zappos to remain committed to the values and mission of the company that has been in place since day one.

Some of the interesting components that make the Zappos culture incredibly infectious include:
1. Culture and Business “Fit”

Michael Sprouse, Chief Marketing Officer at Epic Advertising, said it well in his blog post “Zappos & the Importance of a Vibrant Corporate Culture”:

“Zappos’ culture is a little bit more casual, which is akin to the Internet marketing and e-commerce industries. This creates an environment of comfort for employees, so that they can focus on producing their best possible product.”

Sprouse’s point makes perfect sense. If it’s believed that employees will achieve success by being given freedom and focusing on culture and happiness rather than sales targets and financial goals, then go for it. While certain fundamental practices can be applied across industries, it’s important to remember that no company, or employee, is exactly the same. When creating a company’s mission and the desired corporate culture, think about the necessary elements for building a supportive environment that motivates employees to do their best work.

The interview process at Zappos is lengthy, but for a good reason. Zappos has benefited from their unwavering commitment to their culture. In a recent New Jersey Business article, “Zappos CEO Adds Happiness to Corporate Culture,” they interviewed Hsieh about finding employees that “fit” the Zappos culture:

“Our HR department does a separate set of interviews purely for a culture fit. We test for each and every one of the core values. One of the examples, which I guess is kind of hard to ask as a question, is core value No. 10: Be humble. A lot of candidates relocate, so we pick them up at the airport with the Zappos shuttle, drop them off at the office and they’ll go through the day. They’ll do a tour and their interviews. What most candidates don’t realize is that the interview started when they were picked up at the airport. That’s how we test their humility. The recruiting manager will circle back with the shuttle driver later and ask how they were treated when the candidate thought they were off the clock.”

2. The “Quitting Bonus”

Zappos will pay new hires $2000 to quit on their first day. To some, this idea may seem odd, however the justification of this practice from Hsieh makes sense. Hsieh feels that this practice helps weed out employees who may not be the right fit or have the passion required for the job. The article “Zappos: Can a Corporate Mission be Happiness?” by Nick Aster is based on Hsieh’s keynote speech at SXSW. In the article, Aster writes:

“Tony discussed the corporate culture itself, advising taking plenty of time to hire new employees, but wasting no time to fire those who do not contribute positively to the corporate culture. Barely 2% of new hires take the payout – ensuring that only people who see themselves as committed to meaningful work stay on.”

3. Customer-Centric Approach

The Zappos culture focuses on being the leader in customer service. The goal of every Zappos employee is to make customers happy. In the Bloomberg Businessweek article “Zappos Retails Its Culture,” they talk about the attempts made by employees to satisfy customers. In the article, they spoke with a customer service representative from Zappos, as well as Hsieh, who stated:

“More than 95% of Zappos’ transactions take place over the Web, so each actual phone call is a special opportunity. ‘They may only call once in their life, but that is our chance to wow them,’ Hsieh says.”

4. Office Tours

Anyone can take a tour of the Zappos office in Nevada. In the article, “Zappos CEO Adds Happiness to Corporate Culture,” Hsieh discussed the reactions from those who have taken a tour of the Zappos office:

“For several years now, we’ve given tours to the public. I usually ask people what surprised them the most at the end of the tour. The top response I get is that Zappos employees are friendly and say ‘hi’ to them and hold the door open for them while they wander around the office. Those in the tour groups say that in their own offices, when they pass an employee they don’t know, the person doesn’t even make eye contact.”

5. The Culture Book

The culture book was created as an outlet to allow the employees at Zappos catch a glimpse of their passion for their work. The book is available to the public to purchase from Zappos.com. Included in the book is a series of short essays written by Zappos employees and their vendors, explaining the elements that make the Zappos company culture special and successful. Providing employees with the opportunity to contribute to these types of projects is empowering.

Experiencing World Class Service Excellence

Experiencing World Class Service Excellence

US Service Excellence Tour November 2001

The Stimulus to Go

This tour has excellent credentials – it has been running annually for many years under the auspices of Manchester Business School. There is a sister UK tour.

For us, the visit was part of a continuing professional development programme- a sort of experiential MBA – visiting world-class companies. Interestingly and appositely the CEO of Federal Express in a video we saw said that

‘the most important thing to invest in is yourself’.

It was also a chance to spend time with a group of senior people from diverse backgrounds and understand some of the business challenges they are facing. Fellow travellers were directors and senior executives from companies including Sky, Argos, Legal & General, Nationwide, Alliance & Leicester and Bristol Airport.
The Main Objective

The hypothesis is that a reputation for Service Excellence is the outcome of how companies align their strategic focus, key processes and people in effectively delivering their customer proposition.
Programme of Experiences

Monday Stew Leonard’s Elizabethtown Water

Tuesday Ritz-Carlton FedEx Hub Night Visit

Wednesday FedEx Express

Thursday USAA Nordstrom Sewell Village Cadillac

Friday Southwest Airlines

Making Sense of It All

The concept of ‘a line of sight’ through a company’s activities has been chosen to both analyse the experiences and to help surface any alignment gaps there might be (see below).

In true marketing fashion the start point should be with the customer. In narrative terms, however, the flow is better starting with the Context which is important for two reasons. Firstly, to help understand how companies got to where they are today. Secondly, because of the implications it has for the culture and leadership style that we were likely to experience.

Business Model is used instead of Strategic Intent because it has more commercial overtones. Quite simply how were these companies making their money given their Service Excellence ratings? What trade-offs were there?

In between the Business Model and the Customer, many companies have Processes and indeed design Products in such a way that staff are caught between a rock and a hard place as they intermediate between the company and its customers – ‘Company Push’. How were staff encouraged to behave?

Lastly what evidence was there of an open and timely dialogue with customers? How closely were companies listening to their customers? What were they doing about it? What evidence was there of the customer manifestly influencing what the company was doing? – ‘Customer Pull’.

Inevitably some visits were more fruitful than others in providing input for the analysis and much information had to be taken at face value. Quantitative performance data was almost universally absent.

The Visits

Stew Leonard’s

Format of Visit

Tour of store with introductions from heads of sections (coffee, bakery, fish etc.)
Classroom presentation by Stew Leonard’s daughter
Time –half day
Location: Yonkers New York

Context

Founded 1969
Graduated from doorstep delivery of milk
Invested everything to fund first store
Mom & Pop store to world class cited by Tom Peters
Three stores now all family run
Big personality of Stew Leonard writ big across the business
In Guinness Book of Records for sales per square foot

Business Model

Limited product range – 1000 items only
Focus on fresh produce where margins are typically higher (provided wastage is closely managed)
Concept of life time value
No overt premium for service

Processes

Single aisle only so customers trail round like a guided tour
Section heads treated as owners of small businesses do buying and set prices
Frequent, immediate & varied internal communications highlighting staff performance
Underlying logistics not examined

Product Variables

Bulk purchasing cost benefits shared with customers to generate higher volumes still
Freshness & perceived value for money critical
Quick (days) trial and error product development process
Only recently introduced wine section which has been very successful
Disney style entertainment a feature

Staff Management

Department managers introduced their respective areas with walk-throughs
We were able to talk to customers and floor staff – good eye contact

Front line staff encouraged to deliver outrageous service (see story)
Hire for attitude – use bespoke psychometrics – three interviews
Focus on self supporting teams; close attention to under performance
Promote from within
Handwritten notes recognising exceptional performance – ‘a moo to you’
Fund of stories which make staff heroes & demonstrate exceptional customer service
Strive to create an atmosphere of smiles
Staff given time off to visit competitors but must implement one improvement in 72 hours
Use tours as income stream but also energises staff

Customer Dialogue

As you enter the store there is a ‘rock of commitment’ which says:
‘Rule 1 –The Customer is always right
‘Rule 2 – If the customer is ever wrong, reread rule 1
Tangible customer involvement and entertainment; factory outlet/market feel
Staff encouraged to imagine that they are the customer
As in a theatre, the customer is an integral part of the interaction
Constant product sampling so immediate response
Instant refund policy
Customer Suggestions Boxes – all responded to whether acted on or not
Customer Panels with store management team
Customers encouraged to comment on staff
Satisfaction Surveys

Commentary

The ‘line of sight’ was crystal clear throughout the store particularly the behaviour of the customer facing staff and the level of immediate and on-going dialogue.
This experience should be relatively straightforward to engineer and deliver but there is no comparison between the robotic and sterile experience of many UK supermarkets and the vibrancy of Stew Leonard’s.
Their biggest challenge – which they acknowledge – is scalability.
There is nothing to say they have to get bigger – ‘right sizing’ has a number of connotations and they may be the right size now.
The showmanship is the velvet glove of a very focused business model but their people are used and encouraged to make a difference
Clear ‘Stick to the knitting’ approach.
Had only recently introduced a wine department in the Yonkers store which was going well which suggests corporate flexibility against perhaps a prevailing paternalism.
There seems to be a virtuous circle between, competitive pricing, engaging service standards, higher volumes and win-win distribution of the benefits between company and customer.

Some Delegate Comments

Sell to all the five senses (sight, smell, sound, taste, touch)

Epitomized all the learning that is necessary to create a ‘wow’ in any company

Effective staff orientation can result in excellent service but slogans can ‘tell a story’

Stew Leonard’s – A Service Excellence Story

At five minutes before closing one Sunday night, a customer said to cashier Betty Mucci, ‘We’ve just returned from vacation and are so happy you’re open. Our refrigerator is empty, and we needed this bread and milk for breakfast and the kid’s school lunches tomorrow.’ When the total of $37.12 was rung up, the customer panicked and said, ‘Oh my gosh, I forgot my wallet. I don’t have any money!’

Betsy just smiled and said, ‘That’s OK, just give me your name and address.’ Betsy wrote the information down, put the void slip in the register drawer, and said, ‘Don’t worry, the next time you’re in the store you can pay for your groceries.’ The customer asked, ‘Do you have the authority to let me walk out without paying for all these groceries?’ Betsy said yes, but the customer wasn’t convinced and asked to see the manager.

When the manager appeared and the customer explained the problem, he said, ‘When it comes to keeping our customers happy, we have no hard and fast rules. Each of us has the authority to use our own best judgement and treat every customer the way we’d like to be treated our self’.

Two weeks later, Stew Leonard ran into a friend at a local restaurant. He came up to Stew all excited and said, ‘Stew you won’t believe this story!’ He proceeded to tell how it was his wife that had been the customer who forgot her wallet, and how she had been telling the tale to everyone she met. ‘But what I don’t understand,’ he said, ‘is how you can afford to do it. Aren’t you afraid cashiers will use poor judgement and you’ll lose money?’

Stew responded, ‘How can we afford not to do it?’ Ninety nine percent of people in our store at any given moment are repeat customers. They’re back because we satisfied them the last time they shopped with us. Our attitude is that everybody’s honest If we occasionally run into someone who isn’t, we just take it on the chin. But the important point is that 999 out of 1000 customers are honest. We simply refuse to let one dishonest customer determine how we are going to treat the other 999.

Source: American Management Review

Elizabethtown Water

Format of Visit

Talks from

Andrew M. Chapman, president –

Derek Stroud, vice president of Customer Relationship Management,

Beth Neafy, Change Project Team Leader

Professor Bruce Hawthorn, External Process Design Consultant

Time: 2 hours
Location: Head Office Westfield New Jersey

Context

The seventh-largest water company in the US with 500+ staff serving more than 1m customers in New Jersey
In November 2000 became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Thames Water
Regulated monopoly, have to apply to the Board of Public Utilities for rates increases
Company historically consisted of three distinct silos on split sites– water & waste management, engineers and billing
Since current CEO appointed in 1997 have been going through major process and organisational change programme to deliver a more customer focused organisation.
CEO also felt that customer satisfaction could be a positive differentiator as an acquisition tool for municipal water authority management & should industry become de-regulated
Also felt that fewer complaints would lead to happier staff and hence lower staff turnover.
Implementing a SAP CCS customer billing and account management system (the first of its kind in a US utility).

Business Model

Shaped by regulatory rules
Pricing is a cost plus model
Penalties if historic customer satisfaction criteria not met

Processes

IT Strategic Review identified opportunity to bring together activities of silos
Customer Relationship Management is defined as Single operational view of the customer
Used SAP Enterprise wide system to re-define processes
Key process Revenue Management i.e. Meter Reading to Receipt of Funds

Product Variables

Responsibility is only for water supply to property boundary. From road to property is owner’s responsibility

Staff Management

Exemplified by internal team approach to process re-design – led by very credible long serving member of staff
Quote ‘People march to their measurements’
Need to re-skill Customer Representatives to problem solve (improved thinking) and understand issues around water quality (chemistry) and pressure (engineering) – described as getting the crew ready to run the new ship

Customer Dialogue

Little evidence that customers have had an input into the process design and change management programme
Industry prescribed measures for customer satisfaction a given although they were attempting to redefine these.
Implied customer frustration given fragmented delivery through historical silos

Commentary

A different context from Stew Leonard’s and the other visits
The impetus for change was driven solely by the vision of the CEO – there were no external drivers – arguably the company was ahead of the curve.
It emerged in conversation that the heads of the business silos had acted as brakes on the proposed process re-focusing.
The pace of the change programme was accelerated with the arrival of a UK Thames Water executive some eighteen months ago
The orthodox view would be that processes should be re-designed before IT is applied although it could be argued that the approach was contextually appropriate
The absence of any customer input into the re-design suggests that a supplier mentality still prevails and therefore potentially a serious line of sight misalignment.
Because of the way rate increases were signed off, provided the regulator agree, the customers would of course effectively be paying for the change programme.

Some Delegate Comments

Similarities with our current situation and interesting to see mechanisms and structures put in place to direct transitional change

Change is always difficult, particularly when your colleagues only pay lip service to it

Placing an employee of long standing with the respect of her colleagues teamed with a visionary leader is a recipe for success

Elizabethtown Water
Customer Service Vision

To provide an appropriate level of service for each type of customer which they value, appreciate and would choose in an open market.

Customer Mission

To provide value to our customers by providing safe, adequate and proper service at the most economical cost by continually improving our facilities, our work processes and the capability of our employees.
Customer Service Strategy

Billing: to provide accurate and timely bills that our customers understand

Payments: to collect all monies in a timely manner using all reasonable methods

Billing Contacts: any contact with a customer should add value in terms of cash, image or both

Service Contacts: To provide a level of service that eradicates the need for customers to contact the company more than once and that customers value.

Source: Boardroom Posters

Ritz-Carlton

Format of Visit

Presentation from Stephanie Thomas Training Manager
Back of House Tour
Time: Half Day
Location: Buckhead Atlanta

Context

Group founded by Horst Schulze 1983
Based on the legendary Ritz Carlton Boston which revolutionised hotels in America by creating a luxury setting
Now 40 hotels worldwide, 22000 ‘ladies & gentlemen’
Winner of Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.. First and only hospitality organization to win, first in 1992 and again in 1999
Only 3 hotels owned by company – rest independent ownership but using Ritz Carlton systems & processes
In 1995, Marriott International purchased 49% interest. Three years later increased to 99%.

Business Model

Superior environment and psychology of comfort a critical part of the experience – the mystique of the Ritz Carlton
Market niche is essentially corporate business travellers
Premium price
Occupancy & revenue per room (REVPAR) key metrics

Processes

Set of core values collectively called The Gold Standards: The Credo, The Three Steps of Service, The Motto and The Twenty Basics captured in pocket card held by all staff
Daily departmental “line-ups” attended by all employees including senior executives dealing with one of the 20 basics each day.
Use Project Teams to continually review key processes and also problem solving self directed work teams
Computerised record of guest’s preferences (often from observation) – staff complete Staff Preference Notes
Guest Incident Action Forms
Much attention is paid to the psychological attributes of comfort – the furnishings, the quality of the dressing gowns, towels& bedding etc.
Backstage photos of table layouts, areas in bedroom to dust & repeat cycles are on display – this helps with the ethnic diversity of the staff

Product Variables

Quality Hotels
Club lounge, Room Service, Casual restaurant, Banquet Food, Recreation/Fitness

Luxury residential condominiums located at The Ritz-Carlton hotels and resorts.
The Ritz-Carlton Learning Instituteopen to executives from other companies wanting to learn and adapt the principles of service and leadership to their own organizations.

Staff Management

Motto ‘We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen’
Intensive orientation for new employees – 2 days to orient & select, 21 day review, 30 day Certification Programme
Customised psychometrics covering empathy, Caring, Exactness, Professionalism, Politeness and Positiveness
Staff encouraged to take ownership of problems – $2000 per guest ‘recovery’ discretion
Complaint handling scripted ‘I apologise’ – try to make problem really small – move the customer out of the public areas
Recognition – ‘Five Star Employee of the Quarter’

Customer Dialogue

By observation
Satisfaction surveys
JD Powers rating

Commentary

Ritz-Carlton is a high quality operation. Was the ambience tangible in the hotel? – Yes. Was the quality evident in the Club Lounge and the bedroom? – Yes. Was the high service palpable from the people? – Not uniformly.
Ritz Carlton is process dominated in principle in the same way as McDonalds – another franchise operation. The scope is, of course broader.
Inevitably franchises have to be rules based and much time and effort goes into embedding these into the employees – though it has been called a cult occasionally.
Whilst they premium price for the service, they still face the same occupancy challenges as all hotels to get ‘heads on beds’. It is not clear if their model is more resilient or how they have fared post 11 September.
Behind the scenes there was evidence of the rhetoric breaking down – Ladies and Gentlemen referred to as ‘employees’ in memos for example. The administrative staff offices were very cramped – not a case of treating your staff as you treat your customers.
There was some evidence of staff trying to introduce spontaneity into the prescribed daily routines.
Understanding customer preferences and invading their privacy is a fine line that the hotels are careful not to cross.
On paper using an 80/20 basis the alignment was strong. However, it is not clear how open the dialogue with the customers is and how this informs the process improvements that the Ritz Carlton carries out.
It was also not clear what the trigger criteria would be for employees to use their personal discretion of $2000.

Some Delegate Comments

‘All that glitters is not gold’. It is easy to present a veneer but very hard to embed values effectively in some environments

Reinforcement through ‘over the top’ communication programme works well

A simple message to staff relating to ‘values’ can encompass an entire culture and consequent behaviour
Ritz Carlton

7 Year Vision

To be The Premier Worldwide, Provider of Luxury Travel and Hospitality Products and Services

2 Year Mission

Product and Profit Dominance

The Vital Few Objectives

Improve Employee Pride and Joy
Improve Customer Loyalty
Reduce Customer Difficulties
Enlarge REVPAR
Improve Hotel Profitability

Method

TQM – Application of Quality Sciences
Baldridge Quality Awards Criteria

Foundation

Values and Philosophy
The Gold Standards
Credo
Motto
The Three Steps of Service
– A warm and sincere greeting. Use the guest name, if and when possible
– Anticipation and compliance with guest needs
– Fond farewell. Give them a warm good-bye and use their names, if and when possible.
Basics

The Employee Promise

At the Ritz-Carlton, our Ladies and Gentlemen are the most important resource in our service commitment to our guests.
By applying the principles of trust, honesty, respect, integrity and commitment, we nurture and maximise talent to the benefit of each individual and the company.
The Ritz-Carlton fosters a work environment where diversity is valued, quality of life is enhanced, individual aspirations are fulfilled, and the Ritz-Carlton mystique is strengthened.

Ritz-Carlton – A Service Excellence Story

Enrique, a bell hop, noticed that a lady customer was having difficulty shutting her suitcase – he tried to help but in fact the catches were broken and there was no way to secure the suitcase. The guest was due to leave shortly and there was no time to go to the mall to buy a replacement. Shortly after Enrique went off duty but he continued to be concerned about the guest. He went home, took a suitcase he had recently bought for a holiday from his wardrobe and returned immediately to the hotel to give it to the guest.

Source: Ritz Carlton Presentation

Federal Express

Format of Visit

Evening visit to Memphis SuperHub
Half Day Workshop
Presenters:
Myron Bowery: Manager Corporate Communications
Kathy Bergeson: Quality Process Manager
Location: Peabody Hotel Memphis

Context

Founded in 1971 at the age of 27 by Fred W Smith ex US Marines Corp who flew 230 combat missions in Vietnam and based on a paper on logistics which he wrote as a student at Yale (marked C)
Quote from corporate history ‘ Fred Smith and Fedex are a virtual case study in how entrepreneurial America should work’
Created modern air/ground express industry; invented overnight parcel delivery; first to provide on-line shipping and tracking
Pioneered hub& spoke approach
1983 first US company to reach $1bn revenues without merger or acquisition
1990 First Service Company to win Baldridge award
215k employees worldwide, 600+aircraft
Currently shipping at 1998 levels

Business Model

Philosophy ‘Take care of your People. They in turn will deliver the impeccable Service demanded by our customers who will reward us with the Profitability necessary to secure our future’
Have redefined themselves from Parcels to Airline to Information Technology Company
Have a number of companies within group which ‘operate independently, compete collectively’
The 2001 Annual Report quotes ‘Only FedEx remains focused on a unique business model – to operate each company independently, focused on the distinct needs of each customer segment, but also to compete collectively, leveraging our greatest strengths, the power of the FedEx brand and information technology.’

Processes

See model below
Baldrige Award 1990 but ISO now benchmark driver
Activity a mix of low skilled highly labour intensive (making sure bar coding on packages is face up for the readers) and highly automated (bar code sorting)
International package scanned 11 times which provides data for track and trace system
Very heavy focus on ‘scientific’ problem/process analysis
Use actual numbers of defects not %’s as even 1 is too many
Heavy investment in FedEx TV as means of internal communication
Have high level Weekly Analysis & Review (WAR) Committee
98% response to annual employee survey – results published within hours of cut off time
Employ 12 weathermen to help with routing of flights

Product Variables

FedEx Express: time definite global express package & freight delivery
FedEx Ground: small package ground services including home delivery
FedEx Freight: regional less-than-truckload freight deliveries
FedEx Custom Critical: exclusive expedited door to door delivery
FedEx Trade Networks: Customs brokerage & trade facilitation systems
Recently invested in ground presence in US as losing out to UPS
Recently gained US Postal Services Airport to Airport contract

Staff Management

Hub has 60% staff t/o
Focus on experiential (85%) rather than classroom training (15%)
Recently withdrew ‘on the spot’ rewards system (Bravo Zulus – a US Navy term for ‘Well Done’) as belt tightening move
Upward appraisal process which outputs a company wide Leadership Index which has improved year on year since inception
SQIs used as the basis for bonuses at all levels.

Customer Dialogue

No single view of customer and value
Their Service Quality Index is weighted and varies year on year depending on what customer thinks is important
Have used television advertising extensively which shows an engaging sense of humour

Commentary

The hub visit was a classic example of what the tour is all about. An intellectual understanding of what was going on was no preparation for the raw energy, cacophony of noise and pure hard metal rock that confronted us.
Fedex is an operational giant and what we were seeing was no more than the tip of the process iceberg. The service chain also includes the door to door pick up of parcels and delivery at destination.
Like a class sportsman it was apparently effortless professionalism – there was also a sense of the quickness of the hand deceiving the eye!
In terms of alignment it was interesting that FedEx claimed to have no single composite view of a customer relationship although their SQI measurement factors shaped by customers was a particular plus point.
The withdrawal of the Bravo Zulus – the on the spot reward scheme – was contentious. It was presented as a much needed opportunity to tidy the scheme up but there was a feeling that it could be interpreted negatively by the staff. Outstanding service should be rewarded at all times.
There was a suspicion also that it may have been being used to get round an inflexible pay scheme.

Some Delegate Comments

How to change from a transportation company to an intelligent service provider

Good effective process management is possible. The operation was very impressive

The operation is more important than the staff (Process before people)
Night Visit to the Memphis SuperHub

Getting into the hub was like going to a football match. At 10 o’clock at night there were long queues snaking back from the security checkpoints. In any one night some 8000 people might be on duty. It was a wet and windy night and since many employees work out in the open loading and unloading the planes they were wrapped up like Michelin men (and women of course).

From the observation tower we could see planes lining up to land. – 85 in an hour. On landing, planes moved quickly and efficiently to their berths where in minutes the doors were opened and the specially designed containers – which mimic the shape of the aircraft- unloaded. We were told planes could be emptied in 17 minutes. Trains of containers pulled by small tractors – or tugs as they are called- drove off smartly to the sorting areas – on this night in heavy and persistent rain.

Here letters, packages and parcels streamed along conveyer belts to be divided amongst teams of workers whose role was to turn packages upright so the scanning system could do the automated sort. Parcels then tracked along a series of conveyer belts where computer controlled arms sent them to the right distribution point. Further sorts would separate out priority express packages and narrow the destinations down by cities and even the suburbs of the major large cities. Shortly after the planes were unloaded, screens throughout the complex show the projected time at which the sort will be completed.

Unbundled and re-bundled as it were, the packages were then loaded back into containers and back on to the planes which then left. Memphis can deal with as many as two million shipments (overnight – 30%of the total volume in the FedEx system.

As we toured the hub, small teams of maintenance men were on standby like rapid response units should the machinery splutter. Indeed such is the contingency planning that spare planes are kept in the air in case of mechanical difficulties.
FedEx – A Service Excellence Story

The call from a big medical laboratory in Phoenix was urgent. Shipments of amniotic fluid from two high risk pregnancies had failed to arrive for testing. If they didn’t come soon, the mothers to be would have to endure the difficult procedure again. Senior customer service representative Brenda Currey got on the phone and found the shipments on a truck near Dallas. With help from FedEx operations staff, she had the truck stopped and 20,000 pounds of freight unloaded to retrieve the two samples. ‘Get them to Phoenix and I’ll take care of them’ Currey told the Dallas ramp manager. She met the flight carrying the shipments at 11pm, stored them in her refrigerator as instructed by the lab, and delivered them personally next day. ‘Why did you do this?’ asked the laboratory technician. ‘It needed to be done,’ Currey replied. ‘and I was there.’ Three days later the laboratory called to let Currey know her efforts had paid off. The samples were just fine. (Brenda Currey has been with FedEx since 1985.)

Source: ‘How Time Flies – Fedex delivers the 21st Century’

USAA

Format of Visit

Half day visit
Presenters:
Donna Wildey Planning Manage
Joe Bruha VP Brand Management
Beverly McClure Customer Relationship Management NE Region

Location: Corporate HQ San Antonio

Context

Founded by Army Major William Garrison in 1922
USAA (United Services Automobile Association) serves present and former members of the US military and their families
One of America’s leading insurance & financial services companies; 4.7m customers, 23,500 employees, assets $62.4bn
President & CEO the most decorated combat veteran to lead USAA. Board chairman retired US Air Force four-star general and former vice president of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff
Essentially a direct operation with most business done by phone, mail & web site
Strapline ‘We know what it means to serve’
Largest mail order company in US and third largest in world

Business Model

The mission of the association is to facilitate the financial security of its members, associates and their families through the provision of a full range of highly competitive financial products and services; in doing so USAA seeks to be the provider of choice for the military community.
Have extended definition of target market to include enlisted men but still remained within military affinity

Processes

Use Balanced Scorecard
Market Performance 35% Financial Performance 35%
Projects 20% Mission Accomplishment 10%
Within Market Performance lost members = 50% of score
See detail of Key results areas below
Key Service tenets
– Trust & reliability – Simplify the Process
– Multiple Access – Customer feedback
Aim for what they call the ‘Wizard of Oz effect’ i.e. the illusion of simplicity
Evidence that planning process is used to drill down understanding within the company

Product Variables

Wide range of insurance and financial products including: property and casualty insurance, life and health insurance, annuities, mutual funds, discount brokerage, credit cards, banking services, travel services and alliance services
They had a diagrammatic wheel incorporating six Business Divisions, ten Key Life Events and ten products to give 600 potential segments.

Staff Management

Must be a/the major employer in San Antonio
Work spaces heavily personalised; much use of the American flag; military memorabilia in public spaces

Head office in San Antonio has three on-site fitness centres, health clinics and cafeterias which also offer take-home meals.
There is also a sophisticated system for interacting with staff and they have never had to lay off staff.
One third of the employees have their college education sponsored by USAA.
Have a Workforce Transition Team which employees join for 12 months if job disappears through re-structuring etc.
Managers have their own restaurant & restrooms – shades of officers & enlisted men

Customer Dialogue

No real time IT single view of customer but periodic snapshots they gave themselves a 5/10 rating on current capability
Re-aligning products & support areas into customer focused centres of excellence
Customer numbers doubling every 10 years
Minimalist branding and advertising – rely on word of mouth in close knit military communities
Claim 98% ‘loyalty’; products per household 4.97; less than 2% churn
Have only recently introduced rules for direct mail volumes – two pieces per member per month
Key marketing tasks seen as
Prospecting – Segment Management – Life Event Management – Product Design & Delivery – Retention – Brand Management
Extensive Customer based feedback loops in place using formalised research processes; retention a key focus
One of their secrets is the 140 personal characteristics they are reputed to keep about each customer

Commentary

USAA have cornered an outstanding affinity market in the US military. Their focus on family and community is reflected in the way they value customer and staff loyalty.
Whilst they have broadened their segment definition, for example, to include listed men, and they have a tremendous heritage, there must be a suspicion that they could be heading for a cul de sac given an ageing customer base and the lower numbers of recruitment into the military overall.
Their tone could be characterised as one of quiet understatement – certainly the branding is low in personality.
Many of their practices and processes seem familiar nowadays and their approach to direct mail is dated. Clearly it was not possible to benchmark their pricing but this together with the product range and features must be a critical part of their offer.
It was interesting that despite the strength of the brand in the target market there was no evidence of brand stretch beyond financial services.

Some Delegate Comments

Niche markets are wonderful things, especially if there is an emotive pull

Customer loyalty and trust attracts higher profits

Understand your target market
USAA – Key Results Areas
Service Goals

Trust & reliability
Simplify Processes
Customer Access & delivery
High levels of persistency
Evaluate lost member trends
Use member feedback to improve processes & service
Community outreach
Legislative & regulatory flexibility
Industry affairs
Civil justice reform
Public education
Education outreach
Loss control
Synergy among lines of business
Expand breadth & depth of member relationship
Cultivate member feedback
Educate members
Strengthen community affinity
Build strategic alliances
Promote personalised solutions
Sufficient net worth & liquidity
Strongest possible ratings
Maintain capital self sufficiency
Optimise USAA investment portfolio
Migrate losses
Improve our operations environment
Implement efficient business practices & solutions
Quality financial products
Co-ordinated packages of products
Tailored information
Increase penetration of core markets

Public Outreach Goals
Relationship Building Goals
Financial Strength Goals
Product Value Goals
Mission Support Goals

Facilitate responsive, value added response services
Promote productivity, health, safety and welfare of USAA employees
Provide high quality facilities & services
Diverse, flexible, motivated, multi-skilled workforce
Foster highest ethical standards
Value diversity of employees as we value the diversity of members
Cultivate employee feedback
Educate employees on products and issues relevant to USAA
Encourage employee self development
Integrate information technology architecture
Develop and manage common information & technology systems
Enhance data infrastructure

Strategic Assets – People
Strategic Assets – Technology

Source: CDRom ‘Take a Quality Journey with USAA’ 12/98

Nordstrom

Format of Visit

1 hour Lunch time visit
Presenter: Cindy Mahan Store General Manager
Location: Dallas Store

Context

In 1901, John W. Nordstrom – who emigrated from Sweden aged 16 -used $5000 of his stake from the Alaska gold rush to open a small shoe store in Seattle, Washington
Store subsequently passed to sons and grandsons and Nordstrom still remains family owned
Expanded from shoes in 1960’s and is now one of the nation’s leading fashion retailers, with 132 stores in 25 states

Business Model

Family management, values and approachability
Entrepreneurial focus for staff with income largely commission based on sales – have own business
Successful sellers may earn more than senior management team
Sales staff build and manage own portfolios of customers

Processes

Underlying logistics not examined

Product Variables

Perception of premium pricing created by environment and ambience but do not premium price per se
Aim to never be out of stock of any one size of shoes catering for exceptional widths & lengths
Ambience important – wide aisles & low racking so can see length of floor

Staff Management

Employee handbook is a double sided card with the only message ‘Use your good judgement in all situations’ see below
Look to recruit ‘nice’ people
Frequent performance recognition ceremonies and celebrations

Customer Dialogue

Quality and frequency essentially in hands of sales people who manage own contact strategy using phone & thank you notes etc.

Commentary

We had the opportunity to see their corporate video tracing the history of the company and talk briefly with the Dallas Store Manager – a lady who had previously been a buyer with them.
One member of staff (see story below) was grossing $1.5m sales a year and earning more than the store manager.
Subsequent shopping confirmed the appeal of the environment and ambience compared with other US major retailers
Staff were particularly personable and appropriately attentive in initiating the sales process. Prices were comparable with the other major stores in the Shopping Mall.

Some Delegate Comments

The natural confidence that comes from empowerment

Pride in your work is noticed and appreciated by your clients (and rewarded by your company)

Empowerment of key staff works for the bottom line (regardless of status) – ask people to do what they are good at

WELCOME TO NORDSTROM

We’re glad to have you withour Company.

Our number one goal is to provide outstanding customer service

Set both your personal and professional goals high.

We have great confidence in your ability to achieve them.

Nordstrom Rules

Rule#1: Use you good judgment in all situations

There will be no additional rules.

Please feel free to ask

Your department manager,store manager or division general manager any question

at any time

nordstrom
Nordstrom Service Excellence Stories

Nordstrom is famous for is refund policy. The archetypal story told by Tom Peters is of a customer returning two tyres to a store for which the customer was given the money back. Nordstrom don’t sell tyres but apparently there was a garage on the site before Nordstrom arrived.
A male customer arrived with a bag of some fifty pairs of socks at the Dallas store. He emptied the socks over the counter and asked for a refund on the basis that they had been uncomfortable to wear. The salesman – relatively new – started to say that they would need to see the receipts at which point a more senior colleague took over. A full refund was processed and it transpired that the socks had not fitted properly. A suitable make was found and the following day the customer returned to buy $1000 worth of shirts. The senior seller in question grosses $1.5m in sales!
The Dallas Store Manager was having a difficult time over a piece of jewellery valued at $10000. The circumstances were not elaborated on but the Store Manager decided to personally ring the Nordstrom family member responsible for this product line. ‘You know,’ he said, ‘we knew this was a difficult product area to get into and this was our decision not yours. You do what you feel is right for this customer and you’ll have my full backing’. The cost of the jewellery was refunded.

Source: Dallas Store Manager

Sewell Village Cadillac (www.sewell.com)

Format of Visit

2 hour tour of two showrooms
Guide: Chip Besio Sales & Marketing Director
Location: Dallas

Context

When Carl Sewell joined his father’s car dealership in 1967 he set out to make it the best in the world.
Thirty years later the company has grown from $10m turnover to $500m
In four locations Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio & New Orleans
Co-wrote book ‘Customer’s for Life’

Business Model

Exponent of life time value
Mission: We will provide the best vehicle sales and service experience for our customers. We will do this in a way that will foster the continuous improvement of our people and our company. We will be a top performing, thoroughly professional and genuinely caring organization in all that we do.
Early to recognise that car purchase only (minor) part of potential income stream – servicing , parts and second hand car sales significant

Processes

This is about the integrated engineering of the total customer experience to which every employee contributes
Have computer terminal in car park so when mechanic drops off one car can key in to see where next job is and thus minimise downtime
Automated German parts storage system
McDonalds type tiles on the floor – justified by business case
Customers stay with same Service manager/team

Product Variables

Cadillac, Hummers, Lexus, Saab, GMC, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Infiniti
Use physical cues to denote quality and care – leather couches, private working areas for customers, chandeliers & flowers, tiles on the workshop floors, chrome plating
Pays to have grass verges cut more often than corporation would do

Staff Management

Used same psychologist to select staff for last 25 years – then staff take applicant out to lunch as part of selection process – if staff don’t want to spend time with the applicant then customers probably won’t either.
Service staff are self employed – faulty work is corrected in the technician’s own time

Customer Dialogue

Post purchase/service surveys
Mystery shopping

Commentary

It’s often said that ‘retail is detail’ and this is an impressive example of where the ‘line of sight’ factors have been engineered to create a memorable total customer experience.
It also again emphasises the core role of product in the total experience and the added benefits of tangibility that are missing in most services contexts.
In the suburb of Dallas that Sewell are in, they have three substantial showrooms and workshops in a matter of say 500 yards – a saturation strategy.

Some Delegate Comments

Need to continue to innovate. Differentiation is always key. Understand the subtleties of your market

Environment is important – it helps to attract good staff and encourages custom

Engineer the total bundle of benefits to deliver superior customer experience.

The Ten Commandments of Customer Service

1. Bring em back alive

Ask Customers what they want and give it to them again and again

2. Systems, not smiles

Saying please and thank you doesn’t ensure you’ll do the job right first time, every time. Only systems guarantee you that.

3. Underpromise, overdeliver

Customers expect you to keep your word. Exceed it.

4. When the customer asks, the answer is always yes

Period.

5. Fire your inspectors and customer relations departments

Every employee who deals with clients must have the authority to handle complaints.

6. No complaints? Something’s wrong

Encourage your customers to tell you what you’re doing wrong

7. Measure everything

Baseball teams do it. Basketball teams do it. You should, too

8. Salaries are unfair

Pay people like partners

9. Your mother was right

Show people respect. Be polite. It works.

10. Japanese them

Learn how the best really do it, make their systems your own. Then improve them.

WARNING: These ten rules aren’t worth a damn…..unless you make a profit. You have to make money to stay in business and provide good service.

Source: ‘Customers for Life’ by Carl Sewell & Paul B. Brown
Sewells Village Cadillac
Beliefs and Values

We will be at the top when measured against appropriate business standards or performance in every function, in every department, in every dealership.
We will pursue quality and profitability with the aim to stay in business and provide jobs for our people.
The development of our people is essential to our growth and future success. We will provide training and education to encourage the long-term employment and professional advancement of all our Associates.
We will earn and re-earn the good will, trust and confidence of our customers and colleagues every day.
Our suppliers are important to our success. We will establish long-term relationships with suppliers whose values and quality are consistent with ours.
The highest ethical standards will guide everything we do.
We will strive for constant improvement and innovation in all that we do.

Sewell Village Cadillac – Service Excellence Story

Some of our most appreciative customers are people who’ve left us to buy a Jaguar, Mercedes or BMW and have experienced the customer service those dealers provide.

I have a great memory of picking up the president of a company here in Dallas who was standing out front of the Mercedes dealership waiting for a taxi to take him to work. He needed to call a cab because he couldn’t get a ride from anyone at the Mercedes dealership. I was driving down the street, and I saw him waiting there, so I picked him up and took him to his office. On the way he shook his head and said, I don’t know why I left’. Twp years later, when it came to trade in his Mercedes, he traded it to us and bought a Cadillac. He said the Mercedes was a nice car but it just wasn’t worth the hassle of getting it serviced.

Source: ‘Customers for Life’ Carl Sewell and Paul B. Brown
Southwest Airlines

Format of Visit

Day visit
Presenters: Pat Jansen
Brian Allen Career Coach
Location Southwest Airlines University for People Dallas

Context

Profit making for 28 consecutive years
Has announced no lay offs before or after 11/9 ; share price fell only 24.1% v United 43.2%
Within days of 11 September they had transferred the Staff profit Sharing Fund to a trust account so the funds would be there to distribute
Faced years of legal battles and obstruction from established players and vested interests
Have a history of moving quickly if a new business expansion opportunity occurs e.g. failure of a competitor, gate availability at a desirable airport – based on scenario planning
Stock Exchange ticker symbol is LUV
Marketed itself as the LUV airline
33000 employees; 84% unionised
Strongly associated with the personality of Herb Kelleher who is frequently quoted around the company – he once settled a major legal dispute by arm wrestling – and lost!
Described by Tom Peters as ‘Air Travel’s Greatest Show on Earth’

Business Model

Low cost domestic airline
– fly 737s only – 15 minute scheduled turn rounds- no seat reservations – no meals
– plastic re-usable boarding cards- no hub – city to city only – first to use two tier peak and off peak pricing
– use smaller city not international airports
Perfected niche of short flying trips 10.5 daily flights per gate v industry average of 8.0; typical plane flying 11.5 hours per day v industry average of 8.6
Each station functions as an independent business unit

Processes

Percentage ‘on time’ arrivals shown on a live display on all computer screens

Product Variables

Frankly the university looks like a playschool. Walls are unfinished. It’s decorated by murals depicted cities and places in the US – they take pride on how little money they spent and the unfinished nature symbolises that minds are always under construction
Have a programme of ‘Gate Games’ if flights are delayed

Staff Management

Talk about the 4 E’s – Employment, Empowerment, Environment & Enjoyment. Encourage staff to ask for forgiveness not permission. Promote it’s OK to be ‘Younique’
Staff encouraged to ‘own’ their part of the business
Look for Warrior Spirits (see below)
Have Career coaches & Culture Committees
Put their staff before their customers – the customer is not always right
Family spirit is sustained by customised environment, spontaneity and frequent staff events – pizza parties, barbeques etc.
Casual dress is a given – not restricted to specific day

Customer Dialogue

No suggestion boxes – challenge managers to interact with staff and staff with customers
Strong JD Powers ratings

Commentary

By any standards this was a remarkable experience – a rigorously applied business model that has been copied many times but without replicating its total success;
Have consistently stuck to the knitting and not been sucked into other value destroying areas;
Emotion, passion, and fun are used as strategic assets. The family card is played very strongly. They go public on putting their staff before their customers.

It’s often remarked that people park their brains when they come to work but personality is important too;

Succession in a company where there has been a dominant personality is always a challenge. The sense is that the culture is so well rooted it will live on anyway;
Another challenge Soutwest face quite simply is the current economic climate – what damage would there be to the culture if the company had to lay-off staff? Again one would be confident given the rigours they have historically faced that they could win through this too.

Some Delegate Comments

The most powerful force for excellence in service is your people and how you treat and lead them

The importance of celebration, attitude and living the values to the creation of a truly innovative organization

Culture is at the heart of organizational success – it is at least as important as process
You are the SPIRIT of Southwest Airlines

Service – make it positively outrageous

Productivity – always give your personal best

Individuality – you can make a positive difference

Responsibility – hold yourself accountable first

Imagination – create some fun in your work

Teamwork – together we accomplish great things

Southwest Airlines Service Excellence Story

In the height of summer, a young man boarded a flight in shorts and T shirt. He took his seat, but as the plane taxied away from the stand – and against the Civil Aviation rules – he ran quickly to the toilet. The flight attendant banged on the door and remonstrated with him to return to his seat. When he sheepishly opened the door she asked him what was wrong – suspecting a surplus of beer. Embarrassed and red in the face he admitted ‘My balls are on fire!’ ‘Excuse me,’ she replied. He repeated himself and explained that somebody had left some dried jalapeno chilli peppers on his seat and they must have worked their way into his shorts. The flight attendant, suppressing the urge to laugh, took charge and immediately bought him the necessary first aid – a towel, an ice pack and a blanket.

Source: Presentation
The Brits are Coming

The day we arrived at Southwest University was the day George Harrison died, The meeting started with one of his songs being played on the hi fi system. As representatives of the UK we were offered the presenting teams condolences.

The same day was the graduation day for some 200 cabin crew. They had been whittled down from 90,000 first stage applicants and from 200,000 overall.

They had been on the training for five weeks without pay and (this was the end of November) would not get their first pay until early January. We were invited to go down – to the chant of the Brits are coming – and join them – and what an experience it was! A ten-minute ‘Hi’ turned into an hour long cultural exchange.

The energy, enthusiasm and positive emotion in the room was PALPABLE. For us reserved British people it was a bit like an Oprah Winfrey show in your office. We were paraded to the front and listened as personal tributes to the Southwest Airlines family, spirit and community came from young and old, coloured and white and male and female. Individuals stood up and personally recounted why they were proud to be part of the Southwest family to the accompaniment of cheers, whistles and clapping.

Such was the infectious nature of the enthusiasm that we responded by doing a tour of the room ‘high fiving’ with as many of the people as we could.

This personal story telling and spiritual commitment seems to be a feature of the company. It happened again when we sat down with the training team as a relatively new recruit recounted how she had been made redundant from her last three jobs and had been expecting the same again given the difficulties in the airline industry as a whole. So far, SWA have laid off no staff.
Summarising the Findings

A quantitative evaluation to give company rankings was considered. However, given the varying formats of the visits, the data collection was uneven and this approach was therefore discounted.

Dealing then with the ‘Line of Sight’ components in turn:

Context

An important part of the context is the concept of the American dream and an equal opportunity society. Many companies played to this with their oft-repeated ‘rags to riches’ dynastic corporate history, incessant stories, Mark Twain type aphorisms, and a focus on friends, family and community. In the context of UK companies, they were also relatively young.
The tour took place as the American economy was in a recession and post the 11th September. There was evidence that companies were tightening their belts and trading conditions were more difficult. For many, the well being of their company was under threat.

Business Models

Business models were consistently well defined niches ranging from the extended ‘mom and pop’ store of Stew Leonard’s to the low cost model of Southwest Airlines.
In all cases their origins were in an innovative definition of the markets they were in, the customers they were serving and how they chose to deliver their proposition.
In some cases these models appeared to be tiring and strategic renewal was becoming a necessity. There was a sense, also, that some of the models risk becoming jaded although there is no particular evidence of consumer backlash for the time being.
Well-communicated and shared values were an explicit part of the Business Models. Leaders personified these and put great emphasis on removing the perceptual and actual gaps between leadership, ownership and management. In many cases this made the resulting model highly entrepreneurial and high levels of personal involvement as staff think and act like owners.
Whilst Service Excellence was a unifying goal for the companies visited, this was not a blank cheque and investment had to be justified against business benefits.

Key Processes

In most cases the stories told by the companies we visited were similar to well rehearsed case studies. Their enterprise wide operating models were well established and in the time available it was difficult to uncover the gaps.
Exposure to Baldridge and other Quality measurement systems has made process management extremely detailed and scientific but in a way which is largely accessible and comprehensible for the majority of staff. As a result they are actively involved in process re-design and continuous improvement and own and deliver the outcomes.
Processes are fundamental because in the same way that they can promote alignment they can also engineer in misalignment and higher operational costs. The switched-on companies made a point of backward engineering from an understanding of their customer’s requirements into the organisation (as shown in the ‘Customer Pull’ feedback loops in the earlier ‘Line of Sight’ diagram) – and keeping it simple.
One tends to think of processes as having a manufacturing or production connotation. However, many of the tools used by companies in the management of staff such as internal communications had the same structured and focused rigour.

Product Variables

Functional value and competitiveness of core products remain a fundamental.
No overt evidence of overall premium pricing – although this may have varied for individual product lines – (apart from Ritz Carlton) for service or ambience benefits.
At a given volume, typically margin will be traded against volume to share the benefits with customers and deliver greater incremental income.

Staff Management

Most companies had developed their own psychometric recruitment models with a focus on good personal qualities and positive attitude rather than academic capabilities.
Training programmes were as much to do with culture and ethos as technical skills. There were frequent opportunities to re-affirm the personal and cultural fit.
There was a strong focus on personal accountability reinforced by family, team and community values. Employees are encouraged to about their feelings.

Entrepreneurial models prevailed and were reflected in the measurement and reward processes – ‘Go Huge or Go Home!’.

Promotion from within is a regular occurrence; companies worked hard at being an employer of choice.

Staff are encouraged to bring their individual personalities to work and see things through the customer’s eyes.
Fun and emotion are seen as strategic assets in delivering the WOW facto

Tips to Consider Before Buying Snapback Caps

IMG_5860Have you ever considered wearing snapback? If so, you’re far from being alone. In fact, snapback caps are exceptionally popular, and for good reason. These caps can be very effective and can dramatically increase your chances of putting together an attractive ensemble. There are a variety of things that need to be known about snapback caps in order for them to be worn in an effective manner, all of which are very easy to internalize and understand. The following are just a few things to think about when it comes to snapback caps, and can dramatically increase your ability to dress effectively.

For one, this can be worn by both men and women. A lot of people don’t realize this, and thus don’t take the time to even consider this and how they might be effective. That said, since both men and women can wear these caps, they are quite versatile and should always be considered by those who are looking for a new hat.

Houston-based brand Genuine by Anthony is getting its followers prepped for 2016′s warm weather with its latest lookbook for the spring and summer seasons. The relatively young line was founded in 2011 and hosts a selection of necessities within this lookbook, such as its main floral snapbacks. Additionally, the headwear is complemented by other pieces such as t-shirts, shorts, pants and accessories too. Take a look at the Instagram and find some of the pieces above and let us know your thoughts.

This tends to be worn in casual environments. Those who spend a lot of time in formal situations, then, may want to avoid adding snapback caps to their wardrobe. That said, just about everyone finds themselves in a casual environment at one point or another, which means it’s often possible to incorporate this into an ensemble with little to no effort.

This doesn’t have to be expensive. A lot of people think these types of caps may be outside of their budget, but this is truly not the case. In fact, you can typically find snapback caps for a song by simply browsing the bargain bin at your favorite hat online store.

Another great thing about this is that they can typically be found used at vintage thrift stores. This will allow you the opportunity to find the perfect cap while still saving a great deal of money in the process. If money is an issue for you, you can get quite a bit of mileage out of a simple visit to a thrift store.

You can wear this with practically any colors. Many people worry about clashing, which can truly be a problem in certain ensembles. Most of it is neutral in color, however, which means you should be able to wear them with practically any colors. The more colorful you can make your appearance, the more effective your ensemble will be.

If sizing is something that makes you nervous, you’ll be happy to know that most snapback caps are actually one size fits all. What this means is that you won’t have to consider size as being a factor, meaning you’ll be well on your way to finding the perfect cap without having to worry about whether or not it will fit.

Dressing to Flatter an Apple Body Type

Dressing to Flatter an Apple Body TypeWomen with apple body types tend to have an average to large bust, a wide waist and thin legs. Flat rear ends, narrow hips and wide shoulders are also key characteristics of an apple. Focusing on the positive–the arms, legs, and bust; while camouflaging the negative–the waist in particular; is the key to flattering an apple body type.

Choose tops with details such a ruching on the sides, knotting, pleating or ruching. These details will draw less attention to the tummy area, which is an apple body type’s trouble area.

Wear v-neck or scooped neckline shirts. They accentuate the bust, which is a key feature. Any shirt that has an interesting neckline works well for an apple body type.

Avoid pants with well-defined waist bands. Dress in straight legs and avoid pockets. All these elongate while drawing attention away from the midsection.

Wear long tops that cover the hip area. Tunic tops are very trendy, and would be perfect to camouflage the wide waist area while still looking polished. Tops should be fitted, but longer to flatter the apple body type.

Dress in monochromatic outfits, or add just one more color. Keeping the number of colors down creates an illusion of length, which draws attention away from the waist.

Wear dark-colored bottoms. To draw attention from the waist and flatter the apple body type, dress in a lighter colored top.

Wear skirts that hit right above the knee. Flattering the legs, the best characteristic of an apple body type, is easy in a mid-length skirt. Beware, though–skirts that are too long, that hit below the knee mid-calf, for example, will not accentuate the legs, but draw negative attention to the stomach.

Dresses for Wider Bodies

Dresses for Wider BodiesNot all dresses flatter every figure, so finding styles that suit your body type is the secret to looking your best. If you have a rectangle shape, your bust and hips are about the same width and you don’t have much waist definition, making you appear wide even if you have a flat stomach. Find the key to creating curves where you want them in dresses made to flatter your figure.

Cuts and Styles

Look for body-skimming dresses that don’t fit too tightly. Wear figure-flattering wrap dresses, with a V-neck that helps whittle a wide waist, accentuate the bust and elongate and slim the torso. Dresses with a flared skirt help create the illusion of a smaller middle and are also flattering for women with wider hips. A-line dresses and trumpet skirts that flare at the hem help draw attention away from your middle and highlight tone legs. Bias-cut dresses accentuate curves without clinging unflattering at the waist. Strapless dresses bring attention to the chest and shoulders, helping balance a wider waist. Dresses with an empire waist may also be flattering for a rectangle figure, with waist definition at the smallest part of the torso, just under the bust. However, avoid an empire waist if you’re top-heavy, as it will only accentuate a large chest.

Fabrics

Look for dresses with soft, smooth fabrics that drape well, like gabardine, jersey and wool crepe. Avoid fabrics that are too thick and stiff and make you look boxy, or too clingy, revealing every figure flaw. Knits with ribbing help give the illusion of a sculpted mid-section. Fabric with ruching is also flattering, adding feminine softness to a straight figure.

Colors

Celebrate the trend toward figure-flattering color-blocking. Find dresses with lighter colored panels in the middle and black or dark-colored panels on the sides that visually create a slim waist. A body-conscious, colored dress with a large black waist panel will also help shrink your middle. If you’re a rectangle with wide hips, play down your fuller bottom with dresses that feature bright colors, a pattern or embellishment on top, and stick to darker colors below.

Undergarments and Accessories

Create a narrow waist or minimize wide hips and thighs with spandex shape wear. Shape wear under a dress helps create a nipped-in waist and provides a smoother silhouette. Skinny belts that are dark in color and dresses with self-belts are the most flattering on a wide, straight torso. Balance out width with height and opt for high heels. Heels will elongate your legs and flatter your frame.

Places to Shop for Prom Dresses in New Jersey

Places to Shop for Prom Dresses in New JerseyWhen looking for the perfect prom dress, shoppers are looking for more than just a conveniently located store. The store you choose should have prompt and courteous service and prom dresses in the style you desire, especially if you’re shopping for a dress made by a specific designer, like Nicole Bakti or Jovani. Some shops in New Jersey that sell prom dresses also have alteration services so you don’t have to visit a separate shop to perform dress alterations before the big night.

Red Carpet Pageant & Prom

Red Carpet Pageant & Prom has two locations in New Jersey. Red Carpet specializes in selling formal dresses, including prom dresses. Each store is covered in a red carpet, and carries hundreds of dresses and tuxedos. Red Carpet offers prom dresses in 15 designer styles, including Nicole Bakti, Blush Prom and Jazz Cotoure. Red Carpet’s prom dresses come in the latest and most popular styles, including beaded lace, backless and taffeta pick-up styles. The store also has any accessories that a student needs to complement a prom dress, including jewelry, headbands and shoes.

Red Carpet Pageant & Prom

475 Hurffville Crosskeys Road

Cherry Tree Crossing Center

Sewell, NJ 08080

856-582-PROM

1200 Route 23

Wayne, NJ 07470

973-872-4696

 

Pearl

Pearl is a formal dress boutique located in downtown Manahawkin. Pearl carries prom dresses from such designers as Alyce Designs and Riva. The store also carries a handy prom dress registry, ensuring no two girls going to the same prom will purchase the same dress in the same color, and that each girl feels she has a unique dress. If a dress in the store doesn’t fit right, Pearl will perform custom alterations for a proper fit.

Pearl

31 N. Main St.

Manahawkin, NJ 08050

609-597-2828

 

Marlene’s Dress Shop

Marlene’s Dress Shop is a formal boutique in downtown Cohawkin, five minutes away from the Ben Franklin and Walt Whitman bridges. Marlene’s carries prom dresses by Jovani and other top designers in a variety of colorful styles. The staff at Marlene’s will help a prom-bound student pick out the right dress for her body type and color, and alter it for a perfect fit. Marlene’s website also has a downloadable prom coupon that can be printed out and taken to the store for a 10 percent discount on any prom dress.

Marlene’s Dress Shop

710 Haddon Ave.

Collingswood, NJ 08108

856-858-4777

 

Mademoiselle

Mademoiselle is a formal dress and gown boutique in the historic downtown section of Westfield. Mademoiselle carries dresses from designer Jovani, including one-shoulder satin, beaded halter, and floral print dresses. The shop performs on-site dress alterations, and carries a number of handbags and shoes that can be dyed to match the color of the prom dress.

Mademoiselle

107 E. Broad St.

Westfield, NJ 07090

908-233-0763