issue 3 · SPRING 2008
Married, divorced &
6 8 12 20
DT’s attitude to timber from Burma Domestic: Quality at a reasonable price Win a party for you and your colleagues “Cheap Chinese tat” is a myth
Quality at a reasonable price After 2009 we will see more strong colours
4 Married, divorced & happy 6 HardTalk 10 Every chance to get smart 12 BezzerWizzzer 14 The Greeks used tiles 16 The good times are slowing down 20 “Cheap Chinese tat” is a myth 24 Space management pays off
It is up to you to make the customer smile What is the best way to tackle a difficult customer?
USEFUL NUMBERS: DT Group Wolseley Starkkii Stark Beijer Neumann Silvan Cheapy DT Trade
+45 39559700 +44 118 929 8700 +358 3 850 900 +45 89343434 +46 752411000 +47 55549800 +45 87308730 +46 431443540 +45 39559700
In this issue of DT Magazine, we present a portrait of an atypical division in the DT Family. DT Trade runs branches in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. It is a boast that none of the other divisions can make. In addition, it is a trading and wholesales division that seldom has direct contact with the ordinary consumer. The portrait also clearly highlights the multifacetedness of DT Trade. For example, the short interviews with the employees provide insight to the numerous job functions to be found at DT. Moreover, it provides a perfect occasion to remind you of the excellent career opportunities that exist in a major international business such as ours. So why not seek out challenges internally within the family instead of moving on to pastures new? We already know each other, which is surely an advantage. Committed and competent employees are always in demand, even at a time when our rapidly rising sales curve seems to be levelling out.
Editor-in-chief: Charlotte Gullach (DT Group). Concept and Production: pro:found, Pat May. Articles: Congo Huset, Ib Keld Jensen. Graphic Design: Appetizer.dk, Simon Johnsen. Photos: Das Büro, Ulrik Jantzen. Translation: Samtext. Printing: Trykbureauet.
Enjoy! Charlotte Gullach, Editor email@example.com
Silvan opens Net store It was 18 months ago that Silvan started preparations for the online branch for DIY enthusiasts that has now come online. The initial results give Steen K. Villsen, Online branch Manager, every reason for optimism. “Our customers are spending up to three times as much as we expected on each transaction. So we are earning money and we have not even started advertising our online branch yet.”
One of the challenges had to do with the packaging and distribution processes, which are run from two warehouses in Denmark so as to ensure a delivery time of 2–5 working days. Over the coming year, Silvan expects its online store to comprise up to 12,000 item numbers. Silvan is currently developing a product rating system, an SMS service and a forum on the website for easy to follow DIY manuals.
Happiness at work is . . . B2B
I love the French style, but does it work?
Sales increased by 25%
. . . PRAISING ONE ANOTHER
Eight years old, married, divorced and happy DT Trade is something of a cuckoo in the DT family. However, the eight-year-old division has found its place within the Group. In 2000, a number of DT Group’s wholesale branches that did not really fit any of the chains were gathered together to form a separate division. Some of these companies had been operating for years under the name of “Danske Trælast”. Others had joined the family through acquisitions, and one was added as late as in 2006. DT Trade comprises a range of very different business areas, including that of traditional wholesale trade in construction materials, serving major customers including Silvan and STARK. Here, the division has undergone great changes over the past few years following the establishment of the central purchasing unit DT Sourcing in 2003. This
opened the door to benefits of scale for all DT divisions. “I would like to stress that the decision to set up DT Sourcing was absolutely correct,” relates Jørgen Wenshøj, Managing Director of DT Trade. The change meant that DT Trade had to radically alter its philosophy and develop completely new concepts so as to become a better supplier. Today, DT Trade is placed firmly on the four pillars that distinguish the division and make DT Trade a key player in a range of niche areas in the supply of materials to industry and trade customers. When it comes to kitchen and furniture manufacturers, it is harder to find players that are not customers of DT Trade than to find those who are. And yes,
the Swedish company IKEA is on the list. As is the Norwegian company Coop, and a quick look at the customer portfolio reveals that some of the DT Group’s competitors – such as XL Byg – are also listed along with the DT Group’s own divisions. However, neither Silvan nor STARK nor Neumann are offered the “family discount”. “We do not offer internal customers benefits that are not open to our external customers, because if we worked on this principle we would not have any external customers at all,” explains Jørgen Wenshøj.
Fact file, DT Trade: 1. Last year, generated a turnover of DKK 1.4 billion 2. Employs 355 people 3. Comprises eight specialist trade and wholesale branches 4. Headquarters with a staff of 11 located in Gladsaxe near Copenhagen, Denmark the history of DT Trade: 1. DT Trade was founded in 2000 under the name of “Engros” 2. Changed its name to DT Trade in 2006 3. Built up of DT branches that did not fit any of the chain concepts 4. Some of the companies can trace their histories back more than a century
My job at DT Trade:
Poul is on the move Poul Kierkegaard, 43, Sales Consultant, employed by 4a in Denmark since 1986: I estimate that I spend around 90 per cent of my time visiting customers, who are primarily master craftsmen with 10–20 employees. I drive out to material yards and also help to start up construction sites, where I typically deal with the foreman. I meet him when the site opens and sell everything from cleaning agents, coffee and toilet paper for the mobile site huts, to barricades, safety signs, lights and winter mats for the site itself. The contractor may also need tools and machines if he is stretched to the limits.
Kjell travels to the United States Kjell Sehlin, 49, Market Manager, employed by Hultén in Sweden since 1980: I am responsible for buying timber in North America and then selling it to customers who manufacture mouldings, for example, typically for sale in Sweden but also for export. I visit sawmills in places such as North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky once or twice a year to negotiate deals on orders. We primarily buy white oak. On average, a container arrives at our warehouse in Kungsbacka every day with 30 cubic metres of timber, which is typically then CONTINUED ON PAGE 18
HardTalk with Steen Weirsøe
Why are we focusing on growth in the middle of an economic downturn? A growing company is a developing company, too. We have to be innovative to survive in the long term, and I also think that it is more interesting to work for such a company. The market is large and there are still opportunities to increase turnover by capturing market shares.
Why isn’t all our timber FSC certified? The vast majority – more than 90 per cent – of the wood we sell stems from the Nordic countries, where we already operate with such clear regulations for sustain able forestry that FSC certification would be superfluous. The first forestry legislation came into effect in Denmark in 1805, and over the past 200 years the wooded area in the country has risen from 2 to 12 per cent, and none of the other Nordic countries is experiencing problems of the type FSC certification is intended to combat. However, this is not always the situation as regards the timber we import from Asia and Africa, for example. We operate a timber policy that recognises the principles of the FSC standards, and a part – but not all – of the timber from
such countries is FSC certified. There are two reasons for this: firstly, it can be difficult to get hold of FSC-certified timber. Secondly, using certified wood for a pencil or the wooden grips on a barbecue grill, for example, makes no sense and would significantly increase the price of the products.
What is DT’s attitude to timber from Burma? We abide by all the applicable laws and statutory orders. The EU Council of Ministers has recommended ceasing trading in timber, etc. with Burma, and we have followed this recommen dation. We expect an actual ban on trading to be adopted in the immediate future. We no longer deal in Burmese timber and have emptied all our stocks.
What is a typical day at work for you? There is no such thing as a typical day at work. As the head of a company with 278 units, and as part of a Group that operates in over 28 countries, travel makes up a large part of my job, especially travel to our head offices in Lahti, Stockholm, Bergen and Århus. I also spend a fair amount of time reading reports and accounts to find areas in which we can improve. Other than that,
What would you like to ask Steen? Send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org Don’t mince your words as you may remain totally anonymous.
In an enterprise with more than 8,700 employees, the distance to the top management may seem long. With HardTalk, it becomes shorter, because here we put you in contact with DT Group’s most senior manager. Steen Weirsøe answers your and your colleagues’ questions, however searching they are.
some of my key tasks are identifying visions and plans that can assure the continued success of the DT Group far into the future.
Have you considered introducing a health insurance scheme for the employees? That could ensure that they receive faster treatment, and it would benefit both them and the company if they returned to work more quickly. This would be difficult to do on a Group-wide basis. Each country has its own practice and legislation in the field of insurance, so it is not really appropriate. However, it is something that is considered when the units in the different countries are discussing how to ensure that the DT Group remains an attractive place to work. For example, right now we offer a treatment insurance policy – paid for by the employees themselves, within the DT Group, Denmark.
Quality at a reasonable price When customers want a slightly more economical type of paint, they usually end up walking out of our stores with “Domestic”. For both indoor and outdoor use. Even though customers may choose to buy “Domestic”, the DT Group’s own paint label, which is around 20 per cent cheaper than a brand paint such as Dyrup or Sadolin, this does not mean that they have to make do with last year’s colours and qualities. Domestic is made by the German factory JW Ostendorf, which is the ninth-largest producer of paint in the world. Ostendorf produces paint exclusively for company owned labels. “It is an advantage for us that they do not have a brand of their own, for which they would reserve all the new and interesting trends,” says Stuart Kilpatrick, Brand Manager. JW Ostendorf also supplies paint to the giant DIY chain B&Q in Great Britain and to a number of other chains in Scandinavia and the rest of Europe, but the different paints feature different compositions depending on the qualities required. “We purchase many different types of paint in both an econo-
my quality that is sold as ‘Basic’ and the higher quality ‘Domestic’ product. Most of them are just as good as our brand products, but since we started working with the manufacturer two years ago, we have had to adjust some of the paints,” he relates. “If several employees or customers tell us that they are not completely satisfied, we have to establish whether the product quality is poor or whether the customers’ requirements are too high. For example, we have had our ‘gloss 5’ wall paint adjusted because the coverage was not good enough,” explains Trine Holleufer Matz, Purchasing Coordinator. But the quality is generally good, she explains, as a range of comparative tests has illustrated. In contrast, customers have access to more service if they buy a Dyrup product, because the factory has a large service department that customers can contact if they have questions. This is one of the reasons why brand name paint costs a little more.
The DT Magazine dummy quiz
What happens if …
… I get paint on my clothes? Can I wash it off? Fresh spots of alkyd paint should be treated immediately with turpentine. Spots of acrylic paint should be washed off immediately with water. Old stains can be difficult to remove completely. You may be able to remove them with soft soap, but this soap may wash the colour out of coloured clothes or cause stains of its own. It can also damage wool and silk. Rub soft soap into the stain, place the garment in a plastic bag and leave it for at least 12 hours. Scrape the soap off and rub the stain gently with water. Wash the garment. The “soft soap method” can be used on dried-in stains from both alkyd and acrylic paint.
… I get paint splashes on my floor and furniture? If you are using acrylic paint, you can sometimes remove such stains with household cleaning spirit. … you want to cover a darker colour with white? Put some drops of black pigment in the white paint for the first coat. Not enough to turn the paint grey, but just enough to shade it slightly. This will improve the covering properties. For the second coat, you can use pure white paint.
… a child drinks some of the paint? Probably nothing, if it is acrylic paint. However, always contact a doctor! … you leave paint outside during a frost? It will separate and form lumps. Make sure to protect your paint against frost.
train the trainer
Every chance to get smart “We can take a lot of courses” is the answer if you ask employees at Neumann, Cheapy and Starkki. It seems that courses about paint, lawn mowers, saws and other products are very popular with the employees. But there are plenty of other courses you can sign up for. If you are keen to increase your knowledge, look into the options open to you at your workplace. If you take the initiative yourself, there is every chance that you will be given time off and/or subsidy to take both short, in-house courses,
and longer courses at business colleges, for example. Starkki currently has more than 100 employees following long-duration education courses, and the option is open to almost all staff. Neumann offers its employ ees financial support for
external courses in finance and trade, for example, and employees can also sign up for in-house courses in sales, IT, logistics and so on.
We want theory “We are running six product courses over the next couple of months,” relates Henrik Hermansson, Team Leader at Cheapy Falköping. “Generally, I want as many product courses as possible – ideally involving a lot of theory,” he explains. The courses focus heavily on how the sales staff can present the products, how the customers are to use them, and how they differ from those offered by competitors. Many product courses are run in the stores themselves, but they also include visits to companies, where the biggest suppliers have the perfect chance to show what they can do. However, Riikka Tarkiainen, HR Manager, explains the Starkki prefers to run the courses in the stores wherever possible, because this makes it possible to involve most employees. In addition, the employees from all divisions take a variety of courses and educations. For example, two employees from each Cheapy store have just completed a very popular sales course run by Mercury International, while Starkki has commissioned a consultant to visit all its departments. This consultant holds one-day courses in how to make the best sales with the best return for around 20 employees at a time.
What is the relevance of the training to your everyday work? Henrik Hermansson, 33, Team Leader at Cheapy Falköping: I have just been on a really good sales course, where we learned that you have to be much more precise in your analysis before starting to make suggestions to the customer – i.e. you have to ask a lot more questions. I would like to have my whole team take the course. Christer Tomter Steinslien, 27, Store Assistant at Neumann Tromsø: I took a course at Weber Grill in Denmark. It was really good. We were given recipes and actually had to prepare the food on both gas and charcoal grills. I generally take all the product courses I am offered.. Kirsi Heimonen, 25, Office Manager, Starkki Kuopio: One of the things I have learned on our sales courses is how important it is to ask customers one last question to encourage them to make a decision. For example: would you prefer this in green or red? Customers are almost obliged to give a positive answer. I think Starkki provides all kinds of training courses, so there is almost certainly something for everyone.
Invite your colleagues to a
company party The prize for the DT-quiz in this issue is DKK 10,000, earmarked for a party for you and your colleagues. Whether you want to go bowling, have dinner at the local steakhouse of throw a magnificent summer party is completely up to you. First, however, you need to answer the questions below.
1 Where is DT’s
Domestic paint produced? A Germany B China C Sweden
2 How many companies are there in DT Trade? A 16 B 11 C 8
3 When did DT Trade get its current name? A 1998 B 2002 C 2006
4 What should you do if you want to paint a dark wall white?
A Add a few drops of black pigment to the first coat of white paint B Use a texture filler C Wash the wall with a little baking powder
5 To what tempe
rature should you heat clay to fire a roof tile? A 800º C B 1000º C C 2000º C
6 What percentage
of its priority items must Cheapy have in stock? A 97 per cent B 98 per cent C 99 per cent
Football winners The lucky winners of a trip to the match between FC Barcelona and Villareal were John Rasmussen (Stark), and Jesper Kjellberg (CC Vejle under DT Trade), whose names were drawn from those of the 235 people who sent us the correct answers. “It will be so great to see Barcelona play. I have never seen them play live, but I did make it down to see Camp Nou last spring,” says John, who has invited one of his friends to join him. Jesper will be taking his girlfriend with him. “We have agreed to meet John for a beer before the match,” relates Jesper, who has never seen Barcelona play on their famous home ground, either.
you must pay tax on the prize
Send your answers before May 15! Use the coupon or send your answers by e-mail to: email@example.com
YOUR ANSWERS A 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6:
Name: Address: Zip and City: Country: Phone: E-mail: Employed at:
Send this coupon to DT Group, Att.: Charlotte Gullach, Gladsaxe Møllevej 5, DK-2860 Søborg, Denmark
THE STORY OF ROOF TILES
The Greeks were using tiles back in the Bronze Age As early as 2,500 years before Jesus was born, you could have been unlucky enough to be hit by a falling tile. However, you would have had to have been very, very unlucky. The first known fired tiles date back 4,500 years; and as in so many other cases, it was the ancient Greeks who came up with them. In Lerna in Greece, archaeologists have found thousands of terracotta tiles in a ruin from the early Bronze Age, dating back to 2500 BC. Nevertheless, it took a further 2,000 years for tiles to start to replace thatched roofs on a major scale. Two Greek temples – to Apollo and Poseidon – were roofed with tiles around 700 BC. And after that, the pace real-
ly picked up. In the space of 50 years, a large number of buildings in the eastern Mediterranean area were given tiled roofs. To start with, the technique was reserved for monumental buildings such as temples, probably because the thatched roofs were a serious fire hazard. In addition, buildings made of stone could better support the weight of tiling than houses made of wood or wattle and daub. The earliest tiles were sshaped and must have been rather difficult to work with because they weighed around 30 kg each.
3 types of roofing tiles Pantiles – made of brick, and becoming less popular
Tiles can be divided into three main groups:
Grooved tiles – also made of brick, a little more expensive and gaining in popularity
Concrete tiles – account for almost one third of the tiles sold at Stark
Did you know that … ... roof coverings made of clay (like bricks) are called tiles? Roof coverings made of concrete are called roofing tiles. ... both the DT Group’s own label roofing tiles – Raw and Solid – are made by one of the very largest tileworks in Europe? The plant is located in South-West Poland and manufactures 80 million roofing tiles a year.
... the clay has to be heated to 1,000 °C in order to fire the roof tiles. ... Solid is intended for private customers and is sold through the Silvan and Cheapy DIY chains. ... Raw is for professional customers and is currently sold through Beijer and Stark.
Black tiles can mean bad luck Shiny, black glazed roof tiles were a best-seller at Stark in Denmark until last year, which a number of property owners had cause to regret. Black glazed tiles topped the sales charts at Stark in Denmark for several years. But they proved an expensive decision for some of the customers who chose tiles of this type. It turns out that many local plans in Denmark prohibit the use of shiny black tiles. They can dominate the view of the local environment and the sunlight they reflect can irritate the neighbours. However, it is a little late to find this out once the roof has been installed. Jesper Nørback Lundorf, Product Group Manager at Stark, has heard of cases in which house owners have been required to remove their
brand new glazed black tiled roofs because they were in breach of local regulations. “So there is every reason to remind customers to check the local plan applicable in their area before installing a new roof,” he emphasises. However, the popularity of glazed tiles is declining, as matt black and grey tiles are becoming more and more popular. Generally speaking, Jesper Nørbak Lundorf has noted that in recent years, there has been a tendency for customers to prefer more expensive tiles such as grooved tiles rather than basic pantiles. Grooved tiles are available under DT’s own Solid and Raw labels. Magazine
The good times are slowing down Things are still going well for the DT Group, but after several years of steeply rising sales graphs, the situation is becoming more mundane once more. This can largely be attributed to falling house prices. “It is the same global trend you see everywhere, where house prices in and around big towns and cities have been pumped up to unrealistic heights. The bubble has now burst, which has pretty much brought house sales to a halt.” So says Steen Weirsøe, President and CEO of the DT Group. Denmark has been particularly hard hit by stagnation, while the effect has not yet been as severe in Sweden. In Norway, it
has been difficult to pinpoint a clear tendency in either direction, while Finland is the only Nordic country in which growth continues unabated. The uncertainty in the property market has naturally led to a slowdown in property sales. For the stores that primarily sell to DIY customers, this quite simply means that there are fewer houses that need “polishing”. People typically only start painting walls, sanding down floors and the like when they
move into a new home – and there are fewer customers of this kind when the housing market is in standby mode. At the same time, 2007 saw a general slowdown in building activities – particularly regarding new residences – on the back of several years of rapid increases. However, the stagnation in this sector is not causing major headaches at the DT Group. “For a number of years, we have been working consciously to make the master craftsmen and contactors who work on major maintenance projects our customers. In contrast to housing construction, maintenance work is not particularly sensitive to market conditions,” relates Steen Weirsøe. While the forecasts for housing construction point to a significant decline over the coming years, the expectations for maintenance are virtually unchanged.
However, no matter which way you look at the situation, it seems likely that fewer customers will be visiting DT’s stores in that particular segment. But allowance has been made for this. “We have reduced staffing levels in some stores so they match a market that will not simply keep on rising,” says Steen Weirsøe, who predicts that in many cases, sales staff will have to prepare for a different role. “The real challenge has long been to do no more than simply supply our customers. However, we now have to sell to our customers instead. In the future, one of our main challenges will be to assist master craftsmen and contractors to prepare competitive tenders so that they land the contracts they need. In this way, we can make our core customers winners in the face of tougher competition.” Magazine
dt trade CONTINUED FROM PAGE 5
shipped off to our customers. We measure the moisture content, length and quantity of the wood on arrival to ensure that it matches what we ordered. Generally speaking, it is a matter of providing customers with a sense of security and ensuring that their orders arrive on time.
Martin keeps track of the nuts and bolts Martin Simonsen, 43, Warehouse Manager, employed by HT Bendix in Denmark since 1993: We maintain stocks of small parts and accessories for the furniture industry. My responsibility, and that of the other 29 employees at the warehouse, is to find all the parts needed to
The eight branches that make up
CC Vejle A/S
One of the leading suppliers in Denmark of designer construction materials.
One of the largest specialist store chains in Denmark, selling tools, machines and contractor materiel to the building and construction sector. The subdivision has nine branches spread evenly throughout Denmark.
The range comprises ceramic tiles, floor tiles, glass bricks, parquet, natural stone and worktops, which are sold to construction material branches and DIY shops in Denmark. Employees. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 Domicile. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Vejle
The range comprises products for contractors, masons, landscape gardeners, paving specialists, drain specialists, electrical fitters and plumbers. Employees. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100 Domicile. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Greve
This branch has specialised in the import and distribution of furniture fittings and accessories, which it sells to the furniture and kitchen industries in Finland. A part of the range is exported to Russia, Estonia and Sweden. Acquired by DT Trade in 2006.
Handles the import, distribution and sale of hardwood, veneer and panel products to the timber industry in Norway.
Employees. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Domicile. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sein채joki
Employees. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Domicile. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Drammen
assemble specific items of furniture. The process usually starts with our receiving an order from the sales representative who, together with the furniture manufacturer, has determined which parts are needed. For example, they may need a dowel and a screw from China, join fittings from Italy and glue from Bulgaria, which we then ship off to a packaging company
in Eastern Europe. Here, the individual parts are packed in the bags that the consumer needs when he brings his new piece of furniture home from IKEA or wherever he purchased it. When the packages are returned to us from Slovakia, for example, we carry out random quality checks before dispatching them to the furniture manufacturer, who may be based in Germany.
Møller & Sørensen A/S
HT Bendix A/S
This branch has specialised in the import, distribution and sale of hard wood and panels to the wood refinement industry in Denmark. The hardwood purchased by the branch primarily stems from the temperate zones of the Unites States and Europe.
Distributes and markets fittings and other accessories for the furniture, kitchen and timber industries. The branch’s product range numbers more than 6,000 different items including handles, hinges, screws, wheels, drawer runners, table legs, wire goods and lighting components. The products are sold throughout Europe.
Employees. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Domicile. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Odense
Employees. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76 Domicile. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Herning
Oscar Peschardt & Co
Oscar Peschardt markets and distributes a wide range of wood floors and wardrobe cabinets under the Fjordal brand. In addition, the company acts as the Norwegian distributor of Junckers wood floors.
Specialises in the import, distribution and sale of hardwood, veneer and panel products to the timber industry in Sweden. In recent years, the branch has also worked to expand familiarity with hardwood within the timber industry and in related sectors.
Employees. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Domicile. . . . . . . . . . . . Kristiansand
Employees. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Domicile. . . . . . . . . . . . Kungsbacka
MADE IN CHINA
is a myth
Those people who still try to make fun of the quality of Chinese products will soon have the smiles wiped off their faces, predicts DTâ€™s man in China.
“As regards quality, Chinese products are completely on a par with the best that European manufacturers could do previously.” So says Karsten Jølck, who is in charge of DT’s 15 engineers in Beijing, whose principal task is to define the quality of the Asian products that arrive in DT’s stores. Products that are arriving in larger and larger numbers. China is currently undergoing development at a level never witnessed before. In just 20 years, the country has achieved what it took Japan 40 years to do, i.e. developing from an agricultural society into a hitech industrial society. It took the Scandinavian countries a century to complete this same development. The process has been the same always and everywhere: you start with the simplest, least advanced products and work your way up to the most complex ones. Today, no product is too difficult to manufacture for the Chinese, who are riding the wave
of their seemingly inexhaustible source of cheap labour. “Over the past ten years, China has raced up the development ladder.” Karsten Jølck does not deny that some cheap Chinese products of dubious quality are still to be found, even on the markets of Scandinavia. But the reason for this is that these cheap products are in demand. “Money doesn’t grow on trees, and you cannot pick up a BMW for the price of a VW, even though this would be nice ... And no-one counts on a cheap product lasting for 10 years.” However, the Chinese can certainly deliver top quality. For example, a lot of people consider Bosch to be the epitome of reliable German quality. What few people realise, however, is that Bosch and other corresponding European brands have been manufactured outside Europe – often in Asia – for many years. As regards Bosch, production has long since been exported to China.
How to check the quality of a new halogen lamp: purchasers decide on a 1 DT’s product for a specific customer
segment. In this case, a “Raptor” halogen lamp for professional users. This means that the lamp comes with a longer cable, a more robust cabinet, a more stable stand and a halogen bulb with a longer lifetime.
engineers translate the re2 The quirements into technical specifications that define the material, design, colours and quality. If the product is not clearly defined, it is not possible to check whether the manufacturer is making what you want – i.e. whether you are getting the product you actually ordered.
manufacturer then has to 3 The be found, and this can be diffi-
cult. A lot of manufacturers can supply average quality, but only a few can deliver high quality.
manufacturer delivers 5–10 4 The prototype lamps that are tested for quality and safety at an international laboratory.
prices are negotiated 5 Finally, with the manufacturer. samples are taken 6 Random during production – of both the
finished product and the raw materials used – on the basis of the philosophy that if you use poor materials, you will end up with a poor product (rubbish in – rubbish out).
are also taken 7 Samples immediately prior to shipping. the margins for error are 8 Ifexceeded, the process restarts
at step 4. If the margins for error are exceeded again, the order is cancelled.
ASK THE GURU
It is up to you to make the customer
A dissatisfied customer is a customer with a problem we cannot solve. So our job and our challenge is to make him or her feel that he/she has been given good service before leaving our branch.
The customer pushes the door open hard … so hard, in fact, that it slams into the wall. In his hand, he is holding the drill you sold him last week. The second one. The fist one did not work. He has spotted you and heads directly towards you. And he is definitely not smiling. You swallow. Do what you can not to look around for the nearest exit and make a run for it. You take a deep breath and smile … Moody customers, difficult customers, irritable customers. Customers who feel cheated or shortchanged. Or customers who are quite simply annoyed at having to turn down a fishing trip with their friends because they had to trim the hedge – and ended up standing in their garden with a defective hedge-clipper on a beautiful spring day; the day before their daughter’s confirmation. What is the best way to deal with a difficult customer? Is it possible to turn a tricky situation into a positive experience, and
Top tips 1. Accept person-
3. Apologise for
2. Admit that a
al responsibility for dealing with the complaint – you are the person dealing with the customer here and now!
mistake has been made – even if it is not your fault!
the trouble the customer has had – even if you think that it is the customer who is making problems for you!
start working on finding a solution for the customer – this is probably the most important task you will have to handle today!
how much should you actually have to take as an employee? Morten Elbro, HR Manager at Silvan, thinks that sales staff have every opportunity to make dissatisfied customers happy. However, it is quite a challenge to make customers leave the store feeling that they have received excellent service. Even though they may have been ready to raise hell when they arrived. “There will always be customers you simply cannot satisfy. But there are very few of these. You, personally,
“Indemnify” the customer by offering compensation – a smile or an “I’m sorry” is also compensation
Deal with the long-term aspect of the situation – make it your goal to turn dissatisfied customers into regular customers!
have a great deal of influence on an issue if you view yourself as an active player. You need to act instead of seeing yourself as a victim. “In the context of dealing with difficult customers, it means you have to think: ‘what can I do for you so that you feel that you have received good, fair treat ment.’ It does not help to put the blame on the marketing or pur chasing department, even if the fault actually is theirs. YOU are dealing with the customer here and now, so YOU have to take action to solve the problem.” However, Morten Elbro thinks that there are limits to what the sales staff can accept. If a customer becomes threatening or unpleasant, you should stop the conversation and get hold of the manager. In most cases you can give the customer a much better experience if you suggest solutions to the problem yourself rather than asking someone else for help. Magazine
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Streamline the store Space management takes time and effort to introduce – but it pays off. Sometimes you have to go through a lot of trials and tribulations before your efforts pay off. The 150 employees of the Cheapy branches in Southern Sweden know this from expe rience. During the summer of 2007, all the branches were streamlined under a shared space management project, which meant serious reorganisation of the fittings and furnishings in each and every store. “To start with, the employees were rather sceptical, but this is often the case when major changes are made,” says Benjamin Carlsson, Team Leader at the Varberg branch. However, six months after the reorganisation, the initial
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worries have been dispelled by the tangible everyday benefits that the project has generated. “It has become much easier to keep track of what items we have in stock, and we now have clear goals for our level of service,” relates Benjamin Carlsson. Cheapy branches are to have 99 per cent of their priority items in stock, and 98 per cent of the other items. “And in contrast to the situation previously, we now simply have to check the list of figures. Before the streamlining project, it was very difficult to build up an overview.” Benjamin Carlsson estimates that the occasions on which he has had to disappoint customers by telling them that an item was out of stock have fallen by 20–30 per cent. As a result of the streamlining project, all 22 Cheapy branches are now laid out identically, which makes it much easier for people to find their way around them: both for customers who may be shopping in a store other than their regular one, and for employees transferring to a new workplace. Cheapy primarily uses the shelves for storage, and an identical amount of space has been set aside for items in all the branches, which has helped the staff eliminate an otherwise irritating problem: the fact that previously, the branches often received deliveries of goods for which they did not have space.
(as of July 31st 2007)