Archive for the ‘International Brands Colloquium’ Category

Benefit from Growth Opportunities in the Commodities Market. Example: Freenet

Friday, March 21st, 2014

How often have you heard it? That things can’t work; that the competitive environment is difficult because products are interchangeable; that others can do something better; or that others have already tried something – without success.

During the 10th International Brands Colloquium on September 12-13 at Seeon Abbey, Christoph Vilanek, CEO, freenet AG, made it clear that at the moment, especially companies that are offering commodities are well-advised to look for growth-potential in their markets. Freenet, for example, is on course to become a “digital-lifestyle” provider and is pursuing this course consistently. Vilanek said that it is necessary to maintain a very rational view on the own products and to keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with low-priced products as long as a lot of people buy them. Just as a sidenote, Vilanek also put to rest the question, he is often asked, of whether you need a new name if you become a “mobilcom-debitel,” which is the brand since the fusion between the two providers “mobilcom” and “debitel.” His stereotypic answer is “no,” since it’s not about a clever name. Haven’t Mercedes-Benz, Rolls-Royce, and Hennes & Mauritz also worked out all right in the end?

In addition, one’s perception of the facts is crucial. Forty-seven percent of Germans have a smart phone. A huge number. Vilanek’s view: Fifty-three percent of Germans DON’T have a smart phone. A huge potential.

In our role as consultants, we frequently scrutinize traditional business models as to their potential for growth. It’s not unusual for us to discover that over the years, an organization has learned behaviors that must be examined critically if it wants to grow further. But this assumes a certain “internal opposition,” because it means grappling with the fact that what has brought the organization to its present prosperity will probably not be what will guide it to future prosperity. A sea change in thinking that requires strong leadership.

On my own account: The 11th International Brands Colloquium will take place on September 18-19, 2014 at Seeon Abbey in Chiemgau, as always. Once again, business leaders, companies, and senior-brand managers will convene to speak in a familiar and confidential setting about brands, strategy, leadership, and growth. There is no documentation of the proceedings so that the speakers can talk about things not intended for wider publication. You can find out more about the International Brands Colloquium here.

 
© 2014, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.

The Reputable Businessman. Example: Sixt

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

It would be nice if reputable behavior were universal in business. But what value can a sense of honor possibly have, given the pressure for results that confronts so many managers? More and more, you hear of companies that deliberately bully employees into resigning voluntarily, of mounting pressure on employees to be more productive and to purposely ignore agreements about work hours and vacation time. Increasingly, the talk is of placing suppliers under price pressure that is ethically questionable at best – or taking them straight to the cleaners. Just talk? Selective perception? I don’t know, but a few personal experiences or first-hand observations indicate to me that the concept of the “reputable businessman” is more often to be found on paper or in conversation than in actual practice.

During the 10th International Brands Colloquium on September 12-13 at Seeon Abbey, Erich Sixt, Chairman of the Board, Sixt AG, made it clear that this sense of honor lives on in his company’s business practices. A man’s word is his bond. That still holds at Sixt. On this principle, Erich Sixt might well have based his entire business, which he took over from his father when it had 200 cars – in conjunction with banks, by the way. Today, Sixt has 230,000 cars, and Erich Sixt is proud of being able to say that it is possible to base entrepreneurial success not simply on strict rules, but on a sense of honor. And you have to bring this sense of honor with you, because it won’t come from rules, says Sixt.

Time and again in our consulting practice, we encounter companies having models that have been worked out with much effort, time, and money. We usually ask three questions:

1. What is the model?

2. What are the model’s implications for your area of responsibility, and how do your goals mesh with it?

3. How do you assure that you will act in accordance with the model, even when you come under economic pressure?

The third question in particular is the crux of the matter, because the principle behind “We see our suppliers as partners, and we treat each other on an equal footing for the benefit of all” is a far cry from demanding a price decrease of five percent going forward, if you want to continue doing business with us. Reputable businesspeople don’t do that.

It is our strong conviction that growth must be founded on reputable business dealings, assuming you don’t want to build your enterprise on a holographic footing.

On my own account: The 11th International Brands Colloquium will take place on September 18-19, 2014 at Seeon Abbey in Chiemgau, as always. Once again, business leaders, companies, and senior-brand managers will convene to speak in a familiar and confidential setting about brands, strategy, leadership, and growth. There is no documentation of the proceedings so that the speakers can talk about things not intended for wider publication. You can find out more about the International Brands Colloquium here.

© 2014, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.

What Business Are You Really In? Example: American Express

Monday, March 17th, 2014

“What business are you really in?” When I ask managers or companies what business they are in, the first thing I usually get is a questioning look. Then the chairman of a pharmaceuticals wholesaler says “pharmaceuticals wholesaling” or “logistics.” The forge operator says “forging” or “subcontractor.” The chairman of a fashion company says “fashion” or “industry.” The CEO of an engineering firm says “civil engineering.” We often discuss this topic with our clients because growth-oriented companies know that they are not in the business that corresponds to the work they actually do. The insight that a company needs clever strategic positioning in order to distance itself from the relevant competition is not a new one. That this begins with asking about the true nature of the business is new to many.

During the 10th International Brands Colloquium on September 12-13 at Seeon Abbey, most of the speakers made it clear, independently of one another, that they are not in the business in which they are presumed to be – and that this is a significant factor in success. Dyson is not in the vacuum-cleaner business. Sixt is not in the rental-car business. And American Express is not in the credit-card business, just to name a few examples.

Let’s look more closely at American Express: Thomas E. Nau, Chairman of the Board, American Express, Germany and Austria, made it clear in his speech that American Express is not in the credit-card business, but in the service business. “To become the world’s most respected service brand” is the purpose of this company. Thomas Nau made it clear that Amex customers must always be able to rely on the company, even in emergency situations. “We will always help people whose location we can pinpoint, anywhere in the world.” In my view – and based on my experience – Visa and MasterCard still have miles to go. Credit-card proficiency is one thing; the service behind it is another.

A company with such a mindset aligns itself completely differently from a company with the mindset that it is in the credit card-business. Completely different goods and services, processes, procedures, and employees are needed. Differentiation starts here.

So, Amex is in the service business. And you? What business are you really in?

On my own account: The 11th International Brands Colloquium will take place on September 18-19, 2014 at Seeon Abbey in Chiemgau, as always. Once again, business leaders, companies, and senior-brand managers will convene to speak in a familiar and confidential setting about brands, strategy, leadership, and growth. There is no documentation of the proceedings so that the speakers can talk about things not intended for wider publication. You can find out more about the International Brands Colloquium here.

© 2014, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.

Growth Also Means Giving Up Something Example: BoConcept

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Growth means sacrifice. Growth means not adding things thoughtlessly, but dropping things purposefully. Our clients know that. So do those who listen to my speeches and follow our publications. I can prove this, justify it, offer examples where sacrifice has led to growth and a careless addition has led to disaster. But it is even more effective if it comes from the mouth of a manager or a company that has itself given something up.

During the 10th International Brands Colloquium at Seeon Abbey on September 12-13, 2013, Torben Paulin, CEO of BoConcept A/S (Denmark), revealed how sacrifice had affected BoConcept: Namely, the sacrifice of their earlier “wholesale” channel of distribution to focus on the new (for them) “franchise” system was a significant driver of growth for the company. Even if discontinuing a channel of distribution can mean monetary losses at first, a company such as BoConcept, with operations based on a system, must at some point decide if it wants to create strength through concentration. Paulin and his team are in any case convinced that this focus, despite all the unpleasantness, has advanced the company substantially.

What can you let go of? Where can you make a sacrifice? In more than 350 projects, we have participated in a considerable number of initiatives that, after a conscious decision, have concentrated on targeted exclusion. With great success. If you would like to discuss this concept, get in touch with me.

On my own account: The 11th International Brands Colloquium will take place on September 18-19, 2014 at Seeon Abbey in Chiemgau, as always. Once again, business leaders, companies, and senior-brand managers will convene to speak in a familiar and confidential setting about brands, strategy, leadership, and growth. There is no documentation of the proceedings so that the speakers can talk about things not intended for wider publication. You can find out more about the International Brands Colloquium here.

© 2014, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.