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The Coming Millenium: 12 Business Inter-Views (Part 2)
By Jack Deal

     This is the second of a series of interviews with business owners/management on the future of their industry.
      1. Restaurant Chain. We will expand in the next year by carefully studying the demographics for new franchise areas. We are continuing to promote from within -- this creates employee loyalty. We are constantly recruiting from our rank and file. We will continue to do more of our ordering and internal communications on-line. We are developing a new marketing campaign with some self-deprecating humor. Our only concern is if the economy goes sour.
      2. Tile and Marble Distributor. We are steadily growing largely due to the backlash against synthetics and plastics. Imports are dominating the market and will continue to do so. Italians are making less product but selling machinery all over the world... if a country has clay they can make tile.
      3. Precision CNC Machine Shop. We are dying. China can make the same products that sell for 20% of what we have to charge. Their turnaround time is 2 weeks to deliver to Silicon Valley. Our only markets may be high quality/fast turnaround markets, such as health products. To the manufacturers, price has become more important than quality.
      4. Locksmith. Autos have been changing faster than any other industry. It has been predicted that by the year 2004 no manufacturer will continue to make mechanical ignitions. The home industry will be much slower in going this route since it is harder to steal a house. We are also making a lot of keys by computer code. We are having to go to class to learn these new technologies.
      5. Offset Printer. We still do a lot of manuals and newsletters and expect to continue with that For longer runs copy centers -- which are everywhere now -- are not cost effective. All the experts have been telling me I'll be gone in a few years. We just keep finding niches and going after those markets. Many of the young executives and managers are surprised at the quality offset can deliver.
      6. Crafts Distributor. Certain products, like custom art glass, are doing well on the Internet. Many of our customers want to touch and see the works and that means we have to have a store. One just cannot touch something on the Internet. Also many of our customers want to have a face-to-face contact with us as well.... that is just not possible on-line.
      7. Printing and Graphics Company. For the last ten years the industry has been flat. Flat sales have translated into discounted work so prices on printing have been going down, at least in our market. The digital press will bring about major changes because it eliminates the camera. We are frankly confused and uncertain as to our strategy. We need to invest to stay current and competitive but it is hard to justify the expense when the return is so uncertain.
      8. Veterinary Hospital. Animals are living longer so we're seeing more pet geriatrics like arthritis treatment. Owners don't want to see their pets suffer so we are doing more pain control. We are also seeing more people bonding very strongly with their pets.... you can make your own conclusions about that. Some pets become family.
      9. Rock and Landscape Supply Company. The prospect of drought helps the rock business. The sculptured natural look of rock is making it more desirable for residences. Some of the landscape designers can get a really nice natural look from rock that makes a house 'fit' in better to its surroundings.
      10. Fresh Foods Manufacturer. We are looking at getting out of catering altogether and maybe some of the retail as well. Our strategy is to keep the quality high and market to businesses and corporations.
      11. Moving and Storage Company. People will always move. One of the changes we have seen is that we have to 'see' the job first. A type of consolidation is going on in our industry and that will continue. The smaller companies will be less likely to compete. They already cannot compete in the storage market. It's either buy up or sell -- out: those that stay the same will not make it. The long haul driver will still be hard to find.....it's crazy out there on the roads. Improved truck ergonomics have reduced some of the physical stress. Because of GPS and increased communication, we are able make these drivers more accountable.
      12. Emergency Medical Response Center. People are living longer so we anticipate a steady, growing market. Our clients are in that 'funny' zone between independence and a skilled care facility, so we don't have the unlimited market some people think we have. What we primarily sell is peace of mind for relatives that cannot be present to care for their loved one. With us, they worry less.

     

Other article by Jack Deal:

The Coming Millenium: 12 Business Inter-Views (Part 1)
Sensory Reduction and the Quest for Human Potential
Superior Management -- The Only Competitive Advantage?
10 Business Trends for 2000
Corporate Culture - A Case Study
The Knowledge/Ideas Paradox

 

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