Sustainability, Operations and Supply Chain Management in Manufacturing and Service Industries

Tourism is a huge and dynamic industry that is comprised of a wide variety of service businesses that reflect the same dynamics and priorities that a manufacturer would have for operations planning (OP) and supply chain management (SCM). One such service business is the cruise ship sector in which vacationers travel via these types of vessels to various destinations.

While manufacturers produce tangible products and wastes, service companies also produce waste, but their products are intangible. For example, the product that a personal trainer might produce is a healthier client. Operations Managers (OM) in both industries share similar interests in eliminating waste and delivering quality products.

The two main intangible products that the vacationer (end user) buys, and a cruise ship company “manufactures” and delivers, are pleasure and relaxation – the total experience that allows vacationers to “suspend” their everyday reality for a period of time and immerse themselves in pleasurable experiences. The mission of the cruise ship industry is to deliver this experience to them in a way that surpasses their customers’ expectations, and it depends a great deal on the manufacturing industry to make this possible.

Comparable Dynamics and Priorities in Manufacturing and Service

The movement and connection of goods and services from the point of origin, or the original source, to the end user is referred to as “the supply chain”. Supply Chain Management is a part of the Operations Management that involves the effective management of many inter-firm processes such as:

  • Supplier/Vendor relationship management
  • Order Processing
  • Information Systems management
  • Sourcing and Procurement
  • Production Scheduling
  • Inventory Management
  • Warehousing and Distribution
  • Customer Services
  • Environmentally sustainable practices

Just as in the manufacturing industry, in the cruise ship industry it takes the coordination of a variety of resources – financial, material and human – working together to manage these processes in order to achieve organizational goals.

Operations Management involves the management of all the activities that produce an output (a product). In operations management a multitude of processes must be managed in order to produce and distribute products and services. Policies must be formulated; daily operations must be managed, and so must the use of human and material resources. OM also demands the effective utilization of technology and communications systems to allow for timely ordering and delivery of materials and products, and the servicing of customers and stakeholders.

Policies in both the manufacturing and service industry sectors might include social and environmental impact considerations such as the use of resources and the disposal of wastes. Religious, cultural, political and legal issues such as human rights, use of child labor, wage and hours; human resource impact issues such as age, gender and other forms of discrimination must also be considered.

In a manufacturing situation these considerations would impact the goods and services that the cruise industry might use. Some of these goods include foods, linens, toiletries, furnishings, packaging, electronics, fuel, etc. All of these products are outputs of a manufacturing process that a cruise ship might use and all of these products impact the environment from the original source to the end-user.

Organizations in both industries need to develop a sustainability mind-set and identify where waste being generated in their companies and along their supply chains; the reason why and when, at what stage it is being produced.

So, for example, the OM of a cruise line that is socially and environmentally conscious, and who wants to improve their SCM and incorporate a closed-loop method of operation in her organization, might be considerate of the inputs that a manufacturing company utilizes in its production process and in the processes that it utilizes to convert the raw materials into products; the timely deliverance of those products; the quality of customer service after the product is delivered, and the impact that disposal of these products have on the environment.

Likewise, manufacturing companies (whose products the cruise lines use) also wishing to do the same might, in turn, be considerate of the inputs that their suppliers utilize in their operations. As mentioned before, these inputs include – but are not limited to – various impact considerations previously mentioned.

This backward view of the supply chain links the end user of the services of the cruise ship to the beginning of the supply chain – and that includes all the companies that, working backward, might make up the chain to the original source. An original source might be cotton growers and the policies they have in place that might affect the methods that they use to grow, harvest and supply the converters of the cotton.

Questions that an Operations Managers might ask, for example, are:

· Ate the cotton growers using harmful, earth polluting chemicals in growing the cotton?

· Is child labor being used in harvesting?

· Are working conditions safe, and are wage and hours legal and fair?

· Are materials being delivered on time – and if not, what are the reasons that are preventing this?

These questions impact the management of the supply chain and organizations can gain or lose competitive advantage if they do not consider such questions because, in the case of a cruise ship, for example, an enlightened vacationer might hardly be impressed that the soft cotton sheets that she uses on the cruise line were made from cotton picked by children who live in slums and who earn mere pennies a day for back-breaking labor – and are denied an education because of these poor labor practices.

These types of considerations and decisions faced by a cruise line Operations Manager will affect his or her own company’s financial bottom line and will also affect the operations management of their down-line suppliers, as it also would in manufacturing. One can easily see that the considerations and activities of Operations Managers in service industries easily affect supply chain management in their organizations.

Maintaining a Competitive Advantage

Today’s consumers are more sophisticated and keenly aware of the global impact that their actions have on the environment and many consumers already take actions to reduce their “carbon footprint”, that is the contribution to the environmental impact of human beings and their activities upon the planet.

For example, the more waste one leaves behind in one’s daily activities, the larger one’s carbon foot-print. This idea has been capsulized in the term “going green”. Consumers are not only modifying their own habits in order to minimize waste and thus reduce their carbon footprints, but they are also holding corporations accountable for their impacts on the environment. This has put pressure on many corporations to go green by embracing more environmentally friendly processes in their operations.

Cruise ships are like floating cities that can generate as much as “…30,000 gallons of sewage, 250,000 gallons of kitchen, bath and laundry waste water and 10 tons of garbage — each day”. Effectively managing the inputs that create this amount of waste begins with effective management of the supply chain. Effective management of the supply chain begins with effective operations management.

Socially and environmentally conscious organizations that develop a vision and a mission articulating a clear objective to take responsibility for ensuring the sustainability of all inputs that go into their products will have a competitive advantage over those who don’t. So a cruise line, for example, that establishes a culture of “world class supply chain management” into its operational processes can gain significant competitive advantage over its competitors because “supply management directly affects the two factors which control the bottom line: total costs and sales”[2] (Burt, Dobler, Starling. 2003, p. 10).

For example, a cruise ship line that is an early entrant into World Class Supply Management practices will most likely emerge as a leader in the practice and, as such, will stand to hold “40 -60 percent of the market after competition enters the picture” (p. 11). The quality of its offerings will also improve as it utilizes the sustainable goods produced by manufacturers. Since quality usually commands premium prices, this can help firms gain market share. Today, a more informed and enlightened public demand higher quality goods and thus supports organizations that deliver quality.

Additionally, consumers are demanding more and more that corporations go green as much as possible. Building sustainability into the supply chain will improve quality and increase customer satisfaction. Organizations that do not build sustainability into their operations will find that it will cost them more (in the loss of market share) to NOT do so. By building sustainability into their practices early, both manufacturing and service organizations can expect to gain and maintain a competitive advantage.

Limo Business Advice: Tips for Success in the Limousine and Car Service Industry

In today’s slumping economy, many would consider it risky to enter or be involved in a luxury service based business venture. The limousine and car service industry would fall into that category. While it may be true that business is not what it once was, there is still more than enough opportunity to be both successful and profitable. If you’ve ever considered becoming involved in or actively run a limo service, it is important to recognize some of the key aspects and details necessary to make you one of the next success stories within the industry.

Being behind the scenes and not the wheel fail to expose you, an office person, to the many tales of horror that are often discussed in a car. These prior car service experiences are at times the conversation of choice coming from what should be the most important priority of your limo business: the customer. Customer service is at the tip top of the list when it comes to building and maintaining not only an honest relationship but a returning base as well. The customer will take everything from their first phone call and follow it through the entire experience. Behind the scenes, the customer service baton is quietly handed off from the office to the dispatch department, into the hands of the chauffeur and left up to them to deliver. It is important for the driver to be on time, properly attired and ready to greet the customer with a smile and a handshake. Small things such as bottle of water or a glass full of mints can also go a long way to improve upon the image of your service. A problem and incident free ride results in a happy customer and a happy customer is always a returning customer. Let the mistakes others, through your customer service, be your ticket to company growth.

A beat up vehicle with high mileage and a mediocre ride is no definition of the word luxury! It is important to remember that characteristic when maintaining or shopping around for the golden eggs of your business: the fleet. If customers do not have standards that must be met, they will surely go the budget friendly route and use a taxi. As a luxury service provider, it is important maintain a clean image and provide vehicles that are newer, clean and also properly maintained. Smoking in a vehicle this day in age is almost grounds for disaster and must be avoided at all costs. Routine oil changes, staying current with maintenance, repair, and quality car washes not only extend the life of your vehicles but will also aid in the resale value when it comes time to upgrade or expand. Also, be sure to keep track of all of your vehicle costs and service records as they do play a role in determining what you can expect to charge your customers. A customer riding in style is yet another reflection of your business and the tight ship you run. It is critical to not neglect what truly is the driving force of your business.

Think like a customer while preparing an effective marketing campaign and target those outlets. Once you’ve accumulated a client base and have a niche for delivering the quality of service that meets not only the customer expectation but your own as well, it’s time to find new business. While every market is different and the target audiences vary, the objective always remains the same. Being a bit more aggressive with your marketing is often the key to finding new business. Set aside a budget but also be prepared to spend money for the new target audience. It takes money to make money. A more aggressive marketing approach can include your internet campaign. Is your website up to par at the very least? Can people even find your website? Search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) and social media are to be considered when looking to build your company profile or rank your website among search requests on the big search engines: Google, Yahoo and Bing. Make sure to target keywords and search phrases that generate volume and strive to place your company website within first two pages of results. While professional marketing materials such as brochures and business cards are still effective and nice to have in this day in age, the internet is the king of advertising this generation. Also do not neglect the power of word of mouth through quality of your service. Many referrals come from the mouth of customers who have been happy and satisfied with what you have provided.

Finally, affiliates are your friends. There is plenty of work to go around and let’s face it, there will be times where you will be in over your head no matter how big you may get to be. Having that reliable someone to turn to in such an event is the key to not only keeping your business running problem free but also your peace of mind. Whether it be the one car operator or an established business, look to build these quality relationships and be sure to treat affiliate clients with the same level of service as if they are your own. Doing business together is one of the more underrated outlets for income in this industry and also a critical backdoor to turn to when you get stuck in a bind. As with life itself, it is better to make and have more friends than enemies.

Having found success providing limo service in a faced paced and demanding market, the tips I’ve been able to share with you are the result of some first hand experiences I’ve accumulated being both behind the wheel and the curtain as well. To go above and beyond not only your personal expectation but also the services provided by most others will be critical in establishing and maintaining your loyal customer base. Remember to never cut corners and always put these customers at the forefront of your operation. Failure to perform at the level expected is the only reason why many services fail to stay alive in this industry. Being ambitious, creative and using due diligence in your decision making will ultimately determine just how far you go within the limousine and car service industry.

Winning in the Financial Services Industry is a Lot Like Making the Money in the First Place

In turbulent economic times, working in the financial services industry can be quite challenging. Even when recovery is on the way investors are sketchy, fearful and almost hostile towards anyone in the industry. Although it’s not easy to win during such a global economic crisis as a financial services professional, it is possible, let me explain:

You know money is a lot like winning. If you don’t care about it, you’ll never have any. Any money. Or any wins. If you are a financial services consultant or sell financial products you might wish to make a note of it. If the financial company you work is having difficulties in this market, it can become a catch-22 if you do not do it right.

For instance, you need to make money to live well, but if you sell people financial products that are not appropriate you’ll lose your way for violating your integrity. Thus, you have to think of it this way; You must make money, by making other people money, or make money by saving people money.

Therefore you are doing a valuable service for them, and thus, YOU deserve the money you make. And if you are successful in your services to help them make money, you will get referrals and have no trouble asking for referrals, because? Well, because you have earned them and YOU deserve the money you’ve made.

Many financial firms have quotas, and since that type of sales is a numbers game you have to obviously focus on the number of folks you get in front of and talk to. I suppose they already told you that you need to see X amount of people a day, week, month, to meet your goals.

All goals should be broken into sub-goals and you must treat the sub-goals as important as the main-bigger goal. Always remembering “service first” in other words YOU resolve to help people make money or keep more of the money they make.

Maybe to help you in this dilemma, set your goals to how much money you saved or helped grow for other people and set that goal in the millions of dollars per week or month? Whatever number that should correspond to your firms goals.

If you find you cannot make people money, say due to the economic situation, consider how much you saved them from losing now, and as the economic factors shift how much money you grew their portfolio, investment (s), etc. If you find a better way to make them more money on their money or grow their nest egg with a different firm, then quit and work for the better company.

This will give you a strong personal conviction in what you are doing. You must have PURPOSE to win, (participation without purpose is not noble, it’s just busy work) a reason and one which matches your personal character.

If you had a low personal character or integrity value, then you’d need to go take care of that prior to focusing on making money, otherwise you will set yourself adrift towards a dead end. Think of it like Niagara Falls, it’s important to know it’s there, just don’t go over it.

How to Promote Your Catering Business Services

The catering business, like any other is extremely competitive. To stand out from the crown and win new clients you need to be better than your competitors at promoting or marketing your catering business services. Here are a few tried and tested marketing tactics that you can consider to promote your catering business.

Advertising goes a long way towards spreading your message across the markets that you are targeting. Also consider dispatching press releases to local newspapers to grab attention. You can also tap into TV networks and radio shows when they, from time to time need people to interview for their food-related programs. Put time into understanding all the advertising options that are available, budget for some methods that you feel will work and then test methods against each other to find the winners that produce results to justify the expense.

Offering your customers extra services is always a welcome gesture as customers like to have a variety of choices. Up-selling is a common strategy for generating added revenue. Perk up your catering business by adding services such as flower arrangements or setting up fixtures for outdoor events. Try to up-sell clients on more expensive foods and beverages as well.

Ensure long-lasting relationships with customers by having unique products to sell. A competitive business such as the catering industry requires an innovative mind that can keep coming up with new ideas to impress customers while still offering quality and consistency. Sustaining their support through incentive programs like discounts and package deals are good tactics.

Having the largest range of unique products and services to offer can give you a competitive advantage when it comes to promoting your company.

Mingling with competition is always healthy! You may find that your products and services are not so similar after all and that you could benefit by referring each other to clients who are looking for specific services that one of you may provide better than the other.

Aside from having healthy competitor relations you should also develop a wider network of business associates. Introduce yourself to event-related companies like decorators, event coordinators and printers and cross promote each others services.

Study business models and other successful companies to find out how they promote their products or services. There is so much to learn from the great entrepreneurial spirit! Practice what they preach and see how you can extend their ideals towards your catering business.

Showing off your corporate social responsibility can also boost your catering business. Join charity cook-off events in the community to push for further free publicity for your company. Participating in worthwhile charitable programs could also create a positive attitude among your staff (as well as your clients) as they can see that you are running a business with care and gratitude.

Marketing and promotion tactics, no matter how unconventional they may seem, can propel your catering business to a more profitable level. Being marketing-savvy puts you one step closer to success in the catering business.