“Customers will Never Agree to Pay More” … Really?
One of the most valuable features of the Harmony Decision Maker is the Community Library. This is where our 10,000+ users from around the world can share the analysis and implementation status of how they resolved a “dark cloud” – a difficult decision they faced – in their personal life or at work. Users can share their decisions anonymously or with their name. “Sharing really is caring”. By sharing your analysis with others, you help users in two important ways.
Firstly, they realize they are not alone. In our real life (not the “best life” version we share on social media) we all face “dark clouds.” Sharing how you have analyzed and evaporated your dark cloud can give someone else hope.
Secondly, by sharing, we can learn from each other. Not just learn from each other’s successes, but also from our past failures. We all sometimes procrastinate in making good changes or choices or over-react and make bad changes or choices that we regret later. By sharing, you can help someone else avoid such mistakes.
Every month we feature a different user example. To see more, you can download the free Harmony Decision Maker and check out the community library.
*John is Managing Director of the largest plastics sheet manufactures in South Africa, supplying the refrigeration automotive, building security and display industries with sheet product. Since its formation in 1973, the company has offered a competitive local alternative to all imported sheeting. They were the first in South Africa to successfully manufacture flat and profile polycarbonate and twin wall polypropylene sheet and one of the first in their industry to be awarded the prestigious ISO 9002 certification. Their “Quality first” commitment and investment in a high-tech laboratory to ensure they always meet the stringent quality specifications of their customers has given them a competitive advantage over the years. You can see that customers really appreciate this commitment when you walk into the reception area at their factory in Johannesburg; there are rows and rows of “Best Supplier of the Year” awards on the walls.
John is extremely proud of the preferred supplier status they have build up over many years with their customers. Customers know that the company delivers quality products on-time-in-full and whenever they have an emergency, will do whatever they can to help them out – even if it means working overtime or over weekends.
But recently, John is not getting much sleep. The company is in real trouble. Despite the Preferred Supplier Status and the many “Best Supplier of the Year” awards, they are barely breaking even. At the last board meeting, his fellow shareholders have given him an ultimatum – get the company back to profitability or step down as Managing Director. His shareholders blame him for the poor profitability because he convinced them that investing in the high-tech lab and additional staffing would increase their sales. But it did not happen. Now he is stuck which increased costs and debt and with cheaper imports as an alternative, existing customers will never accept a higher price tag for the additional lab services and better service they offer.
Really? Customers will never agree?
Step 1: My Problem – and Why it’s Important to Resolve
My Problem: What is the problem or “dark cloud” you are facing?
My company is not profitable.
IMPACT ON ME:
Local Impact: Why is the problem bad or important for you to resolve?
As Managing Director, I am ultimately responsible and accountable to ensure our shareholders get a return on their investment. If the situation does not improve, shareholders will likely vote to get me fired; a threat that has been hanging over me like a dark cloud.
IMPACT ON OTHERS:
System Impact: Why is the problem also bad or important to resolve for others?
Unless our company can return to profitability, employees and managers will face real risk of massive layoffs or even an acquisition by a competitor or bankruptcy.
Step 2: What to Change? Conflict Analysis (My Conflict and Their Conflict)
|+ ON GOAL
Positive impact on System Goal Managing Director is able to improve profitability of company in responsible way
|POT of GOLD
Positive of Change (Don’t have but want) Company can increase Sales Revenue (if prices is accepted) and then do not have to do layoffs (something he promised himself will be the absolutely last option)
Positive of Not Change (Have and want to keep) Everyone (including MD) keep their jobs and company survive current downturn without losing customers (due to too high prices)
Action you feel pressure to take to deal with Problem
Pressure to INCREASE Prices on Special Orders requiring overtime or other costs etc.
Opposite or Competing Action you feel pressure to continue with
Pressure to REDUCE Costs and layoff workers at factory High-Tech Lab
Negative of Change (Don’t have don’t want)Managing Director face risk that higher prices will not only cause them to lose orders but even cause loyal customers to switch to lower priced competitors.
Negative of Not change (Have but don’t want) Managing Director face real risk of strike from workers, compromising delivery performance that could cause customers to switch to competitors.
|THREAT TO GOAL
Negative impact on System GoalManaging Director is blamed for poor performance of company and is fired.
Learn more about the ProConCloud Method
Step 3: Conflict Resolution
John decided to go for Method 2 – “Change ++”
Challenging Assumptions Analysis (Method 2 – Change ++)
|1st ‘Why?’: CHANGE will jeopardize POT OF GOLD because or when/if…
Customers will never agree to pay higher prices on special orders
|1st +: CHANGE will not jeopardize POT OF GOLD when/if….
Customers agree to pay higher prices on special orders
|How to achieve this?
Company announces special offer. On all special orders, they guarantee much faster delivery in return for premium price and penalties if they deliver late
|2nd ‘Why?’: CHANGE will result in ALLIGATOR because or when/if…
Higher prices on special orders will result in lost sales
|2nd +: CHANGE will NOT result in ALLIGATOR when / if …
Higher prices on special orders will increase sales
|How to achieve this?
Company announces that premium prices is only on special orders where the cost of not having a product is MUCH higher for customers than the higher premium price.
Step 4: How to cause the change? – Planning ‘Yes, but…’ Analysis
1st Yes buts – Insufficiency Reservation
|Stakeholder||Change Insufficiency||How to achieve sufficiency?|
|CFO||The new injection will be Insufficient because…
It is not clear whether premium prices on only special orders will be enough to return company to profitability
Create simple financial model to monitor whether there will be enough special orders with shorter lead times for premium prices to achieve profitability targets. If not, aggressively go after more customers that have frequent emergencies.
2nd Yes buts – Negative Branch Reservation
|Stakeholder||Predicted Negative of Successful Change||How to prevent Negative?|
|Chairman||Predicted Negative Yes, but
Offering penalties for late deliveries can reduce profits
|Add risk protection
Offering penalties is only done when operations can show close to 100% on-time-in-full performance on shorter lead times
3rd Yes buts – Implementation Obstacle Reservation
|Stakeholder||Implementation Obstacles||How to overcome Obstacles?|
|Sales Manager||Obstacles Yes, buts
We do not currently have the new price list showing premium prices for faster delivery and penalties for late deliveries
|Add how to overcome obstacles
Team is appointed to create new price list showing premium prices for faster delivery and penalties for late deliveries
Step 5: New Planning Best Practice – Summary of Full Analysis
|They will never agree Resolved|
|The company is not profitable which (for MD) If the situation does not improve, shareholders will likely vote to get MD fired; and (other stakeholders) can result in job losses, being acquired by competitor or even bankruptcy.|
|Everyone (including MD) keep their jobs and company survive current downturn without losing customers (due to too high prices) AND Company can increase Sales Revenue without having to do layoffs (something MD promised himself will be the absolutely last option)
Without Risk of losing orders, customers or causing a strike.
|Conflict Assumptions Challenged…
Customers will never agree to pay higher prices on special orders à Customers will agree to pay higher prices on special orders with shorter lead times ucompany offers penalties for late deliveries
Higher prices on special orders will result in lost sales Higher prices on special orders will increase sales
(CFO): It is not clear whether premium prices on only special orders will be enough to return company to profitability à
(Chairman) Offering penalties for late deliveries can reduce profits
|Method 1: CHANGE ++
The Company INCREASE Prices on Special Orders requiring overtime or other costs etc.
1st +: Company announces special offer. On all special orders, they guarantee much faster delivery in return for premium price and penalties if they deliver late
+ Create simple financial model to monitor whether there will be enough special orders with shorter lead times for premium prices to achieve profitability targets. If not, aggressively go after more customers that have frequent emergencies.
+ Offering penalties is only done when operations can show close to 100% on-time-in-full performance on shorter lead times
+ Team is appointed to create new price list showing premium prices for faster delivery and penalties for late deliveries
|OBS1) All: Obstacles Yes, buts
IO1) Sales Manager: Team is appointed to create new price list showing premium prices for faster delivery and penalties for late deliveries