Sensible Manufacturing and the Ultrasonic Flow Meter

The Manufacturer MX Awards

Each year The Manufacturer MX Awards aim to recognise great achievements in the industry. Entries are invited for a number of different categories, with the ultimate title of ‘Manufacturer of the Year’ presented to a company that is strong across the board.

The winner of this year’s ‘Manufacturer of the Year’ title was announced in November and Dura Automotive took home the award. The company also returned to the office with awards for ‘People and Skills’, ‘World Class Manufacturing’ and ‘Sustainable Manufacturing’, so it was well worth attending the event!

Investment in Employees, Quality and Sustainability

Dura Automotive are an international company that design and manufacture control systems for the automotive industry. They may be a large operation, but the awards they won clearly illustrate what it takes to grow a successful business; investment in employees, quality and sustainability.

If you take a look on their website, you will see that their objectives are to ‘inspire drivers, customers, our people, the competition and stakeholders through innovation and performance’.

They understand that in order to deliver full customer satisfaction, they need to deliver high quality products. To do that, they need to stay ahead of the competition with innovative ideas, products and processes, staff training and development opportunities and a positive, customer focused vision. In addition, they understand the importance of integrating sustainability into every aspect of their business.

Sustainable Manufacturing

Sustainable manufacturing focuses on minimising the negative outcomes of production. The overriding aim is to lower the environmental impact of manufacturing and distribution, yet the real benefits to business come from the fact that in working towards sustainability is a process of continuous improvement.

Many manufacturers have been incentivised to take action. On the receiving end of Government initiatives or in a bid to reduce energy, water and waste management costs, more companies have been willing to consider sustainable options. Whilst they may have started off thinking of this as a tick box exercise, the real benefits of taking action soon become apparent. Huge savings have helped many companies to remain competitive in the global market, have paid for other investments or have boosted profits.

Flow Monitoring

When it comes to water and energy use, flow monitoring has proved valuable in running processes at optimised levels, improving quality control, minimising waste and reducing downtime due to problems in the process. This has supported significant cost savings in storage, processing, waste management and utility bills.

By investing in low cost ultrasonic flow meters, which retrofit to the exterior of pipework, flow monitoring can be straight forward to implement. Calibrated to the specific flow range of the liquid or gas that passes through the pipe, the ultrasonic flow meter provides data that quickly identifies when abnormal flow rates are detected. This acts as an early warning system, so the issue can be quickly identified and rectified.

The ultrasonic flow meter also supports the optimisation of the process, which can be highly effective in quality control. This has been widely used to reduce waste batches and waste management costs in food, pharmaceutical and automotive industries, to name but a few.

All of these potential cost savings from an affordable ultrasonic flow meter certainly justify investment in monitoring technology. Other low cost devices including tap aerators and rainwater harvesting systems have also helped UK businesses to gain a lot more than environmental credentials.

Recycled Materials

Another area in which Dura Automotive have invested is in research and developments around the use of recycled materials in their products. When manufacturers consider reusing materials rather than raw supplies, it can present a number of challenges. Being open minded to these challenges can lead to innovative thinking, fresh ideas and approaches which could open up new avenues for the product or company.

The use of recycled materials does depend on sufficient quantities being provided by a reliable source. Having said this, if a large scale operation such as Dura can find viable alternatives to raw materials, then a bit of research could lead to suitable supplies for smaller businesses.

There is often a cost in processing the material to ensure it is of a suitable standard for reuse. Companies may need to explore partnerships with other companies and other collaborative approaches to ensure that cost effective and convenient options are found.

Sustainable Advantages

Like Dura Automotive, the majority of the other manufacturing award winners also placed considerable emphasis on sustainability. If you want to see your company going from strength to strength, a greener approach could deliver many tangible advantages.

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Unique Features of E-Commerce

Nowadays E-Commerce is the buzz word. Although it is omnipresent but we never realize its importance primarily because it is known by different names. People do site promotion, SEO, affiliate marketing, and many other things but the goal is same i.e. to get clients and sell the products or services of the company. ‘E’ is just a medium to transact online. I will be listing some peculiar features of e-commerce which makes it considerably appreciable.

Ubiquity – In traditional commerce, a marketplace is a physical place we visit in order to transact. For example, television and radio are typically directed to motivating the customer to go someplace to make a purchase. E-commerce is ubiquitous, meaning that it is available just about everywhere at all times. It liberates the market from being restricted to a physical space and makes it possible to shop from your desktop. The result is called a market space. From consumer point of view, ubiquity reduces transaction costs – the cost of participating in a market. To transact, it is no longer necessary that you spend time and money traveling to a market. At a broader level, the ubiquity of e-commerce lowers the cognitive energy required to complete a task.

Global Reach – E-commerce technology permits commercial transactions to cross cultural and national boundaries far more conveniently and effectively as compared to traditional commerce. As a result, the potential market size for e-commerce merchants is roughly equal to the size of world’s online population.

Universal Standards – One strikingly unusual feature of e-commerce technologies is that the technical standards of the Internet and therefore the technical standards for conducting e-commerce are universal standards i.e. they are shared by all the nations around the world.

Interactivity – Unlike any of the commercial technologies of the twentieth century, with the possible exception of the telephone, e-commerce technologies are interactive, meaning they allow for two-way communication between merchants and consumer.

Information Density and Richness – The Internet vastly increase information density. It is the total amount and quality of information available to all market participants, consumers and merchants. E-commerce technologies reduce information collection, storage, communication and processing costs. At the same time, these technologies increase greatly the accuracy and timeliness of information, making information more useful and important than ever. As a result, information becomes plentiful, cheaper and of higher quality. Information richness refers to the complexity and content of a message.

Personalization – E-commerce technologies permit personalization. Merchants can target their marketing messages to specific individuals by adjusting the message to a person’s name, interests and past purchases. The technology also permits customization. Merchants can change the product or service based on user’s preferences or prior behavior.

E-commerce technologies make it possible for merchants to know much more about consumers and use this information more effectively than ever before. Online merchants can use this information to develop new information asymmetries, enhance their ability to brand products, charge premium prices for high quality service and segment the market into an endless number of subgroups, each receiving a different price.

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Dealing With Conflict in the Workplace

Introduction

Conflict is a major concern in both your personal and working life. If not deal with quickly, tactfully and efficiently conflict could lead to serious confrontation and / or a complete breakdown of relationships. It could even lead to violent and dangerous situations.

A conflict could stem from a minor complaint that was not resolved and left to fester. This could then gradually grow into an insurmountable problem. A conflict can be as innocent as sibling rivalry – arguing over a toy – to a dispute with a customer or colleague over a product, service or procedure to a war between countries in extreme cases.

There will be times during the course of a working life where you will have to deal with complaints and conflicts. Your successful handling of these situations will have a direct bearing on you and your organization's reputation for customer service and its continued success.

What causes conflict.

Conflicts usually occur when people have different ideas and believe they have the superior view point. This is particularly true of conflict in the workplace – between collections and / or management. The issue becomes one of power, of gaining control or of 'being proved right'. To resolve this type of conflict it is necessary to move from the power clash, to one of service and responsibility – to work for the good of the group rather than individuals within it. In resolving a conflict it should be more important to make sure that both parties needs are met rather than winning the argument.

Conflict can also be caused by a lack of communication or by a failure to recognize the needs of another person. Whatever the scenario, the main component in conflict is misunderstanding. These misunderstandings can occur due to differences in age, culture, race or religion. Conflict situations can include customer related issues, misunderstandings or communication barriers or Conflict among work collections.

Conflicts due to customer related issues.

A complaint, no matter how trivial it may sound to you, is legitimate in the eyes of the customer and must be taken seriously. Customers come into your organization to do business. They have a need and they believe (or hope) that you will be able to fulfill that need. They are willing to pay you for your time, effort and service and they expect your full and undivided attention. If they do not receive this attention or a satisfactory product or service, then they are not receiving value for their money and then have every right to complain.

Conflicts arising out of customer related issues could include;

  • Problems or faults with services or products. The customer has not received the quality of service or product that they expected and are unhappy enough about it to complain. A complaint of this nature can be fairly easily resolved if the parties involved are prepared to communicate and compromise.
  • Delays or poor timing of product or service supply. The customer has been kept waiting longer than expected or advised for their product or service and, as in the point above, become upset at the delay. Delays can cause a great deal of inconvenience for customers, particularly if they have made time to be on hand and are then disappointed.
  • Difficult or demanding customers. Some customers are hard to please and are, by nature, very demanding and aggressive. If they are not handled carefully they could, potentially, become threatening.
  • Drug or alcohol related issues. These could include being refused entry or ejection from concessions due to their condition and the risk they represent to other customers or staff.

Conflicts due to misunderstandings or communication barriers.

No two people are exactly alike – not even twins. People have different points of view thought about by the many influences on their lives.

These effects include;

Genetics – the things that we inherit from our parents and over which we have no control. These things might involve the color of our eyes and hair to our health.

Upbringing – which involves the way in which our parents raised us and the values ​​they instilled in us.

Culture and religion – this influences the things that we believe to be true and the customs and traditions we follow

Economics – our view on life can be strongly influenced by our economic situation, whether we are financially comfortable or struggling to make ends meet.

Education – our level of education will also have a large impact on what we think and how we view the world.

The environment – this means the environment in which we operate: our neighborhoods, housing situation, and the people we are surrounded by.

Life experience – involves all the experiences we have had in our lives, the successes and failures, the lessons we have learned from these experiences and the many roles that we have played to date.

All of these things and more go in to making us the individuals we are and our thoughts and feelings about almost everything we come into contact with will be shaped by these influences. So we have our own opinions and points of view on a whole range of things and these sometimes clash with other peoples. These clashes can take the form of a lively but friendly debate but they could just as easily become heated and aggravated and degenerate into shouting matches. The beginnings of conflict.

We can avoid these situations by reaching an understanding between the parties. This can be done by communicating openly and honestly, being willing to listen to the other person's point of view – remembering that the influences that have shaped their beliefs and view points could be very different to yours – but no less valid.

Misunderstandings and communication barriers could occur because;

  • People do not listen to each other with an eye to reaching an understanding
  • People are not prepared to compromise in order to resolve the situation
  • People do not understand cultural differences and are not prepared to make allowances for them.

To resolve a conflict situation steps need to be taken to bring the two points of view closer – to reach a compromise that both parties can accept. Part of good conflict resolution skills is the art of communication and recognizing the barriers to a good two way communications flow. These barriers can include;

  • Not paying attention . Customers or colleges who are trying to communicate with you will feel ignored and frustrated if you allow yourself to become distracted. Not paying attention to them is rude and unprofessional and stops the communication flow. The result of this could be the loss of a customer, a complaint about you to your manager or a loss of respect. Do not allow yourself to be distracted – focus your attention on what is being said and really listen to your customer or colleague. If you must interrupt the conversation to answer the phone, or speak with another staff member, excuse yourself.
  • Not looking at a person . Maintainable reasonable eye contact with the person you are communicating with is very important. It shows you are paying attention and that you are interested. By not looking at the person who is talking to you, you are indicating not only disinterest, but are also making them feel uncomfortable. They may think you are not being honest or trustworthy – you may be trying to hide something from them.
  • Interrupting . Interrupting someone when they are talking is a major barrier to open, two way communication and could easily cause conflict. Once again, you are indicating that you are not interested in what they have to say. Breaking into what they are saying to make your own thoughts known, or worse, to finish their sentences for them is no way to gain a proper understanding of the other persons needs and expectations. Allow them to finish what they are saying and pay attention. If, for some reason, the conversation needs to be wound up, then take control by asking leading or closing questions – that allow for short answers only.
  • Tone of voice. The tone of voice used during a conversation could also start a conflict. Arrogance, demand, anger, whining, disinterest etc. All add a tone to the voice that can cause people to react negatively. When dealing with customers or collections you should keep your tone friendly, calm and pleasant. At the very least, if you do feel annoyed you should try and keep the tone of your voice neutral.
  • Sarcasm . Sarcasm has no place in any conversation between two people and is an open invitation for conflict. There are times, in everyone's working life, when you think "If I get asked one more stupid question, I'll go mad!", But sarcasm in the face of a silly question or remark does nothing but hurt the other person and, Possibly, dent their self esteem. We often forget that not everyone knows everything we do about our industry – in fact most customers know very little about the tourism and hospitality industries. We can forgive our customers or junior collectors, therefore, for asking questions that may have obvious answers – obvious only to someone who knows. Show patience and understanding – it's just as easy and much more pleasant than giving a sarcastic or snide answer.
  • Rudeness . There is never any excuse for rudeness. A respectful and courteous attitude on your part should avoid or defuse any antagonism a person brings with them into your office. Should you find yourself never the less, dealing with a person with whatever you simply can not get along – rudeness is not the solution. Speak to your supervisor or manager and ask for their advice.
  • Cultural differences . Cultural differences can be the source of a great many conflicts. When dealing with people from other countries, other beliefs and so on, it is easy to misunderstand words, gestures and customs. If you want to excel at your profession it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the more prevalent customs of other cultures. On the whole, however, people from all over the world, from all walks of life and from all creeds respond well to respectful and courteous behavior. Do not make fun of customs you do not understand. Treat everyone you deal with, both customers and colleagues, with respect and you should do very well.

Any one of these points could provoke a customer or a college into complaining – which could then, potentially, turn into a conflict. It is a good idea therefore, to remain courteous and polite when dealing with other people.

Signs of potential conflict

A conflict does not happen suddenly. People do not go from calm and cool one moment to angry and aggressive next.

Conflict builds. It may take hours, weeks or even years. However long the process takes, there are always signs that a conflict is building. If these signs are recognized early then steps can be taken to quickly and efficiently resolve the situation before it becomes a major issue.

Early signs of conflict can include (but are not limited to):

  • Aggressive body language: Narrowed eyes – trying to intimidate you Flared nostrils – a sure sign of building anger as the person takes a deep breath, either to control themselves or to go on the attack Stretched muscles in the face and jaw line – tightened in building Anger and aggression Tapping fingers or feet – shows impatience
  • Malicious or negative gossip among collections
  • Difficulty in discussing an issue calmly and rationally
  • Tone of voice – indicating boredom, sarcasm, irritation

These are all signs of irritation, dissatisfaction or impatience. If you recognize any of these signs when dealing with a complaint or a conflict you should endeavor to find out the reasons why the other person is starting to feel impatient or irritated. You can do this by asking relevant questions and listening carefully to their answers. In this way you can reach an understanding of the issue at hand and possibly avoid escalating the situation.

If not recognized and acted upon these signs could then be followed by;

  • Raised voice – speaking rapidly in a loud, high pitched voice – or even shouting
  • Body leaning forward in an effort to intimidate
  • Hand gestures – finger poking and pointing in an aggressive manner.
  • Refusal to cooperate
  • Storming out of a room, slamming doors, drawers or implements

At this point you may already have a conflict and it will take careful handling to bring the situation back under control

Crisis situations

Complaints can escalate into conflict and conflict, if not resolved effectively, could potentially escalate into a crisis.

People wish to be taken seriously. If they are not, or are repeatedly ignored, it can become aggressive and a threat to safety and security of the organization and the people in it. Equally, people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and are not in control of themselves, can present a danger to those around them if they are not handled carefully.

Situations where personal safety of customers or colleges may be threatened and assistance required may involve:

  • Drug or alcohol affected persons
  • People with guns or other weapons
  • Situations where someone has been or may be hurt
  • People who appear to be violent or threatening
  • Situations where customers refuse to leave or to be pacified.

In these cases it is extremely important to:

  • Keep calm yourself and to try and calm the other person.
  • Move them, discreetly, out of the main area of ​​your office or shop
  • Take note of details of the problem for future reference
  • DO NOT argue with a person who is visibly upset or aggressive as this will only compound the situation.
  • Bring in the assistance of relevant management, security and / or entities such as police as soon as possible.

Organizational requirements

You can not simply make a conflict go away by giving the complaining party whatever they want. Resolving a conflict is a deferred balance between reaching an agreement between parties while at the same time staying within the constraints of your organizations requirements and policies.

These constraints may include:

Costs issues. Often, a conflict with a customer will be centred around dissatisfaction with a product or service. If the product or service was actually found to be faulty then the simplest solution to the problem is a straight forward replacement. Sometimes, however, the situation is not as simple and the customer will demand further compensation. In these cases a replacement may not be enough and something extra may need to be done. When determining the amount of compensation, if any, to be offered to the client, there are a few issues to consider. These could include;

  • Customer good will & repeat business. If your organization is dependent on customers coming back again then this is an important consideration.
  • Organisations reputation. A dissatisfied customer will tell many people that they received bad service from an organization who did not meet their needs and this can lead to a loss of business.
  • Direct cost. Compensation to a client can be in the form of cash, additional products or services, or an upgrade to the product or service they have purchased. If compensation is to be of a monetary nature then the cost to the organization must be considered.

Organization policy on refunds or exchange . Most organizations will have policies on giving refunds. Some companies will give money back, others will give credit for products or services they provide. In the tourism industry you must also consider the refund policies of the principals you deal with. For example some advance purchase airline tickets do not allow refunds at all within a given period prior to departure and if the customer does not use the ticket, they have lost their money.

So before agreeing to provide a solution to the customer, you must first determine if it is financially viable to do so and to take the organizations policies and procedures into account.

Resolving conflict situations

When a person has purchased a product or service from your organization and it is not what they expected it to be, or does not perform properly they will feel dissatisfied and disappointed. As a consequence when this person complains that they generally believe that they have a legitimate reason for doing so and they may do so long and heatedly to the first person they come across in your organization. This might be you – even though you had nothing to do with the original sale and have never met the customer. The worst thing you can do is tell them its not your problem.

Take ownership of the issue, regardless of whether you were involved in the problem or not. "Passing the buck" at this point is not going to help matters. The customer approached YOU, so deal with the issue and do not pass them off saying "It's not my problem" or "The lady who handled this is not here now ….". At that particular moment in time the customer does not see you, the individual, they see you, the representative of the company, so it is you, the representative of the company, they expect to help them.

If you were not part of the original transaction where the problem occurred get as much information as you can from the customer to help you determine what to do. For example, you could ask;

  • Exactly what the problem is
  • When & where it occurred
  • How long ago the problem occurred
  • What they paid for the product or service
  • How they see the situation being resolved – this will give you an idea of ​​the person's expectations and how they impact on the organization's policies and procedures.

If the person who was involved in the original transaction is available you should ask them to join the discussion in order to get both sides of the picture. It is very important, however, to keep to the issue at hand and not to let emotions or ego get in the way of finding a solution to the problem; Stay calm, listen to all points of view with an open mind and try to keep the communications process flowing in a positive manner.

Finding a solution to a conflict involves a certain set of skills and techniques. It takes a step by step approach to ensure a positive income for all parties concerned.

Steps in resolving conflict

Finding a solution to a conflict will often become a matter of "give and take" where one party makes a suggestion that may not be entirely acceptable to the other. When this happens you will need to define the issues as seen by all parties and negotiate a mutually acceptable exit. This would normally occur in a logical sequence:

  1. Define the problem
  2. Work out what you want out of the conflict
  3. Brainstorm for options
  4. Evaluate solutions
  5. Decide on solutions

Define the problem

Everyone involved in the conflict needs to agree on a definition of the problem before it can be solved. This could mean describing the problem in terms of each persons needs and understanding of the issue at hand. Questions to consider might include:

  • What is the problem? Is it only my problem? Who else is involved?
  • Can I solve it? Is it worth solving?
  • Is this the real problem or merely a symptom of a larger one?
  • Does it need an immediate solution or can it wait? Is it likely to go away by itself? Can I risk ignoring it?
  • Does the problem have ethical dimensions?
  • What conditions must the solution satisfy?
  • Will the solution affect something that must remain unchanged?
  • Will I need help?

Asking these types of questions will outline what all the issues are from various perspectives giving you a firm foundation for exploring options. Depending on the nature of the problem and what it will take to resolve it, it might in extreme cases even be worth letting the matter go. It is important to keep a customer satisfied, but not at all costs. If a customer is being completely unreasonable and demanding then sometimes it is the better option to lose that customer.

Work out what you want out of the conflict

You also need to develop a clear understanding of the expected outcome. This could be; An agreement on acceptable compensation for faulty products or service a better relationship with the other party a mutually acceptable solution to an ongoing work issue the other person to respect your opinion With firm expectations of what would be an acceptable exit in mind, you can then begin To negotiate with the other party until an agreement has been reached.

Brainstorm for options – When all parties concerned have had the opportunity to explain their feelings on the matter, then all of the issues should be out in the open. At this point you can look at the various options available. There might be a number of solutions to the problem which could work for everyone involved. Do not get stuck on one solution just because it's the first one you find. Be creative about the possibilities available to you, and look for common ground. You can decide from the options later.

Evaluate solutions – In deciding the best result from the options available you should weigh up the pros and cons of each one based on the organizations policies and procedures, cost or budgetary constraints, legal ramifications and mutual benefit. When discussing and evaluating options it is often the case that each party will prefer an option that most closely gives them what they want regardless of its impact on the other party. In these cases you need to negotiate and compromise so that an agreement that both parties are satisfied with can be reached.

The Art of Compromise – Compromise does not mean giving in or losing. It means looking for ways to meet each others needs by making concessions to the other party involved. Compromise involves negotiating what you are, or are not, prepared to do in order to get what you want.

You should be open to good arguments rather than pressure or manipulation from the other party. Be open to reason but closed to threats. In difficult conflicts it might be necessary to bring in another person to mediate. This person may need to be skilled, mutually respected, and not have a personal interest in the outcome.

Decide on a mutually acceptable solution – When all available options have been tabled and considered then you can decide on the best one – the one that keeps both parties happy! Make sure each person takes responsibility for agreeing with the decision. This may take the form of a written agreement or contract, or a letter outlining what was agreed to.

Separate your feelings from the problem . When your emotions get tangled up in the pros and cons of an argument you can not reach the best conclusion. If you take a strong position because of the way you feel, you can not work out the best solution to the problem because your perception of it is controlled by things which are likely to have nothing to do with the problem. It's not about who is right or wrong. Arguing over who fault it is or placing blame will do nothing but increase tension and get in the way of resolving the situation. You should not let your feelings get in the way. Points that can help here include:

  • Act and speak calmly. Arguing with a customer or colleague could result in a full blown confrontation. Pause before making a response to them. This will give you time to collect yourself, to calm any irritation you might feel and also gives you a chance to work out how to phrase your response in the most appropriate way.
  • Try to put yourself in the other person's place; Empathise with them. Use expressions such as "I can understand why you would feel that way" and encourage them to share their point of view.
  • Listen carefully and completely to what they are saying. Hear them out without interrupting them. Show you are interested through a positive listening attitude and ask clarifying questions to make sure you have understood them correctly.
  • Be patient and understanding. Do not interrupt them. Once they have had their say, they will generally be a lot calmer and easier to reason with. The problem can then often be resolved in a civilized manner.
  • At the appropriate time, acknowledge their point of view and ask them to give you the court of now listening to your (organization's) position. For example; "I understand what you are saying, may I now explain our position to you, and then we can see how we could solve the problem together?"

Documentation

Recording accurate information about complaints, conflicts and their outcomes is a very important part of any business. This type of information will show (among other things);

  • Areas of the business that are not working properly
  • Processes and procedures that need to be changed.
  • Things that customer like / or do not like about your products or services
  • Gaps in the supply and demand of your products or services

With this information in hand, an organization can then use it to continuously improve its products, services, image and reputation.

Information can be recorded by way of (but not limited to):

  • Letters (or emails) of complaint. These should always be taken seriously. A written complaint should be answered immediately – even if it is simply to advise the customer what will happen next. An investigation of the complaint should follow and the customer should then be advised of the outcome. A report of the complaint and the outcome should then be sent to the relevant supervisor or manager for any further action needed.
  • Notes taken during a phone call or after a face to face meeting. Once again, it is good business practice to record the details of complaints or discussions about conflicts. These notes can be used for the organization's continuous improvement program but they can also be used as reminders of the conversation should a dispute arise.
  • Formal documentation. These could be; Refund forms Credit notes Contracts or agreement forms

Evaluating conflict situations

It is good business practice to continuously look for ways in which an organization can improve its practices and procedures. One of the main ways an organization can do this is by seeking feedback – comments from customers, staff and other visitors to the organization. Reasons for seeking feedback can include;

  • To ensure customer satisfaction and repeat business
  • To maintain its reputation
  • To learn from errors or mistakes
  • To make improvements to the service or product delivery or quality to improve productivity and efficiency
  • Follow up to see if customer is satisfied in the case of a complaint or conflict

In a matter as important as a complaint or a conflict, feedback can also be taken by way of a phone call, letter or even even a personal visit to the person concerned to ensure that any issue that exists between the conflicting parties has been successfully resolved.

When looking for how effective the solution to a conflict was, some of the questions that should be asked could include:

Why did this situation happen in the first place ? A close examination of the circumances surrounding the matter of conflict from both the customers and the organizations perspective can show up problems in procedure, policy or product or service delivery. Issues to look at could include;

  • Was there a breakdown in communication?
  • Is the service delivery as good as it could be?
  • Are the organization's policies and procedures as effective as they could be?
  • Was the service / product faulty in some way?

Did we resolve it effectively ? This is a very important question from the customers and the organizations point of view.

  • For the customer, resolving the problem effectively could mean that they are satisfied, that they have received value for their money and most importantly that they will probably continue to do business with you.
  • For the organization, resolving the problem effectively could mean that they have retained a customer and kept within organizational guidelines and budgets

When looking at how the problem was resolved:

  • Ask critical questions about the output – was it the best possible option for every one concerned? Did it cost your organization money? Too much money? Was the income worth the cost?
  • Evaluate the customer's reaction to your proposal – were they happy with it? Were they prepared to be reasonable? Will they continue to do business with you?
  • Compare the situation to any previous incidents of this nature. How was it handled last time? Is there a pattern emerging that should be addressed?
  • What can we do to prevent it happening in the future? By looking at how the problem occurred in the first place and how effectively you resolved it you can then take any necessary steps to prevent the same thing happening again. This might mean; A change in policy or procedure A change in a product or service training staff in customer service skills Training staff in conflict and complaint handling

By asking these, and other relevant questions, you can make improvements to the organization. This could lead to greater customer and staff satisfaction which will have a positive impact on the organizations continued success and prosperity.

For more information go to: www.lptraining.com.au

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Brainstorming To Start A Small Business – Questions To Answer

Hello readers and potential future entrepreneurs. I understand the feeling; desire to create, operate, and succeed. Throughout my professional career, I have learned that there are numerous steps that must be taken in order to organize opening and operating a small business. I have put together a few questions which aspiring entrepreneurs should, at the very least, consider reading over. There are many questions that may arise with opening a small business, and I will address a few of those questions briefly in the following list of questions one may ask while brainstorming.

What type of business do you want to open? There are various business endeavors an entrepreneur could involve themselves in. It all comes down to what knowledge one has, or is willing to obtain. Are you a restaurateur? Repairman? Plumber? Home health / assistance? Do you have experience managing or working at such establishments? Do you need formal education from an institution? Will you work as a sole proprietor, or a partner / member? Research limited liability corporations (LLCs) in addition to sole proprietorships and partnerships. S corporations are another option, but they are for business with stockholders, and may not be right for your particular business application.

What kinds of licensing and/or permits are required? Each business will have different licensing requirements; it all comes down to what the entrepreneur ultimately chooses to do. A restaurant would need food safety licensing in addition to basic business licensing, and if alcohol is on the menu – there is another permit the entrepreneur would need to legally sell alcohol on the premises. Repair oriented businesses would need at least the business license to repair, but if they sell parts as well, they would need to have “retail” listed on their business license in addition to “repair”. Health care services require at least formal education and licensing as an LPN, RN, or one of several other health care related licenses. Be sure to check your state’s laws to ensure what is necessary to operate your type of business.

What training / education / certifications are required to legally run this business? We touched upon this in licensing / permits, however there is much more involved than the required licensing. For example, one cannot operate a vehicle collision repair business without the knowledge of performing those types of repairs. There are schools that can be attended to learn what must be learned to effectively operate nearly any kind of business. However, there are also businesses where experience is enough to operate effectively without needing any formal education (lawn care, house cleaning just to name a couple). Also, there are certifications for training in nearly, if not all, care industries.

Does this business require a storefront? Retail establishments will undoubtedly need a storefront. Bear in mind, retail business will have a much larger initial investment than a service based operation. That initial investment is inventory. Some service businesses may not need a storefront to operate, as much of the service performed could very well be on-site. If a storefront is necessary, be sure to consider delivery or on-site service if it is feasible for your operation.

How much will it cost? This number will vary wildly based on the type and size of business you are planning. For smaller businesses, this number could be as low as $200 for a license and/or permit, or as high as a million dollars or more. Obviously, inventory is very expensive, and so are specialized tools for performing extremely precise work. Calculate the expected opening and operating expenses. Determine what size storefront is needed (if applicable), and research local commercial realty properties, locations, and prices. It is absolutely cheaper to rent in the short-term, although the thought of owning property that is paid off is very tempting. Prices on most things will vary based on your location. Employees are another cost, if your business warrants employees. When employees come into the equation as opposed to sole proprietors or partnerships, one must add extra insurance for the business (unemployment insurance comes to mind). Check with your selected insurance company for which types of additional coverage are required, and if offering health insurance can be done reasonably. Those employees will also need to have taxes paid on their wages – part from the employee’s paycheck and part from the company. Another potential cost is repayment of loans, if you don’t already have the capital needed to open your business. Basic operating expenses are not to be forgotten, as heating/cooling, Internet connectivity, and utilities will be regular expenditures for any storefront. On-site service operations cost very little when compared to a physical storefront.

How can an individual pay for this? If you do not have the funds available, which is very common, applying for loans is a way to attain funding. Be sure to have a business plan with projected expenses and revenues. There are other ways to gain funds for a business. Look into grants. While they are not very common, they are a potential source for assistance nonetheless. If many people believe in your dream, one could possibly acquire donations from those individuals.

What about accounting? Bookkeeping is a necessity – research which accounting/bookkeeping software would work best for the type of business you are planning. Point-of-sale (POS) systems are needed for “ringing up” and selling inventory or goods to the customer. POS systems keep track of sales, sales taxes, employee labor dollars spent, and many other items. If you are apt at creating spreadsheets, you may be able to keep track of your own inventory depending on your particular business model.

I hope this brief listing of questions and potential answers has been of assistance to aspiring entrepreneurs. Although there are countless successful entrepreneurs who have little or no formal education in business, it is never a bad idea to research courses regarding administration and management. Be sure to take a look at the Small Business Administration’s website at http://www.SBA.gov for more helpful information.

The author, Johnathan Baker, is an educated entrepreneur, with over ten years of experience in small business administration and management. Opening any type of business is no simple task, as many things must be considered. With experience opening, operating, and managing small businesses, the author aims to help aspiring entrepreneurs in realizing their dreams. While the questions are not all inclusive, they are, at the very least, a good bit of information to consider throughout the beginning processes of opening a small business. Take the information provided and begin or continue working on your business plan on the road to entrepreneurship.

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The Importance of Family Love

I wonder if someone could explain this in words. No not at all, it is not easy to hold the weight of words describing family love. Yeah but someone can do the job nicely! The one who has departed from his family members or the one who is unable to see the beautiful faces of his parents and siblings. The one who has pulled up stakes from his family will surely realize later, that he has lost something worth caring. They all can feel the importance of Mother love in it’s intense form. They can realize the importance of father’s intimacy and the confidence of sharing tales with one’s siblings.

Though sometimes out of anger and wrath we behave unfriendly but it does not mean that we don’t care for each other. Family quarrels are bitter things but are of least importance. We should not care about these few bitter memories but rather we must think about the existing love within our family members.

Actually a family is the building block of a society. Many families when combined give rise to a social network. If the building block of a society is scattered then imagine the bitterness that spoils the whole society! But if the family members are linked to each other with the strong bonds of love and intimacy, a prosperous society will be developed.

Family members are amongst those few people in this present day world, who will genuinely worry about you. They will always be there for you, to fall back upon when you have been disillusioned with the outside world. Though at times it feels that they are interfering too much in your life, it’s only because they care for you. If sometimes you feel bad about them, do focus on your mistakes and errors and be sorry for them.

In family life, love plays the role of a magic bullet which helps you to overcome all the difficulties that come across your path. You are able to share all your sorrows and pleasures also with people who really love you and care for you! The love of your family is your ultimate confidence and strength, so take care of your family members and truly love them before it’s too late and you have to repent on your carelessness.

“There’s no vocabulary for love within a family, love that’s lived in but not looked at, love within the light of which all else is seen, the love within which all other love finds speech. This love is silent.”

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8 Best Tips For Solo Travelers

Traveling alone seems to be a pretty daunting thing to do. Ten questions come to your mind. What if you get stranded somewhere? Can you go out alone at night? Won’t it look strange to eat alone in a restaurant?

All these kinds of worries and other things like will I get attacked by thieves? Or what if my car gets stuck in a ditch? Plague the mind of many travelers before they go on their first solo trip. But once you know the benefits of solo traveling all these thoughts will instantly be removed from your mind. Here are 8 best tips for solo travelers that will help you in how to go alone without difficulty.

Plan In Advance – Before you travel, it’s best to do some planning. You don’t need to have a detailed plan, but you should at least know a few basic things like where you will stay? It’s best that you book your hotel before you leave.

Pack Less And Light – It’s always the best idea to pack light so that you can manage your luggage quickly without any assistance. One suitcase, backpack and carry on will suffice your requirement for a one or three week trip.

Try Traveling During Day Hours – I highly recommend that you should plan your arrival during the daytime so that you can find your way easily through an unfamiliar city.

Mingle With Others – When you are travelling alone, it’s a good idea to mingle with the other travellers. The lounges and common rooms of hotels are a great place to meet new people and make short term friends and get great travel advice.

Connect With Locals – Meet the locals, many cities have free local tour guides, but you can also connect with the locals through different websites and enjoy your vacation in a better way.

Look At The Things Around You – Take your time in observing your surroundings, watch how people interact with each other and how things work in that place. While sitting at a coffee shop, or park or just killing time walking around the city, you can learn how to pay your bill whether at the table or counter or how to hail a cab, etc.

Open Up – Honestly, speaking I know traveling alone seems to be pretty scary, you can get insecure easily and get all your defenses on, but that’s not the right approach its, best to talk to strangers, smile and start a conversation. Be curious and ask questions that seem important.

Enjoy Yourself As Much As You Can – Go out in evenings, go to different bars and pubs and grab a seat at the bar. Go to local drama shows or concerts, do everything that you want to do and enjoy your solo trip as much as you can.

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How Being Authentic Will Help Your Network Marketing Career

People can see through smoke and mirrors. Maybe it was different in years past but these days people are very smart. In this article, we are going to talk about how being authentic will help your network marketing career.

Let me first let you know that being authentic to me does not mean that you share all of your business with the world. Being authentic means being in line with whatever message it is that you are sharing. If you are talking about financial freedom and you don’t have it, you should be talking about how you are working toward it and what you are learning instead of trying to make people think that you already have it.

One of the things I remind myself and teach to my team is that the truth is good enough. Maybe we are not impressed with the success that we have so far but it could be just what the person we are talking to needs to hear.

When I am talking about success, I don’t even necessarily mean monetary success levels, it can even mean that you’ve enrolled one person or got one customer. Whatever your story is, you have to be good with your story and be authentic. This does not mean that you tell the world all of your problems. People don’t need to hear all of that. You can give your story after you’ve gotten through your challenge. When was the last time people were inspired by a rags to rags story?

When you are talking to people just connect with another human being and be genuine in your writing and any other communications as well. The more that you do this, the more people will know, like and trust you. We all know that these are the people that we love to do business with and that is how your business will be helped by being authentic.

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Why Should I Engage in Outdoor Recreation Activities?

More and more people engage in outdoor activities these days, as outdoor sports are becoming very popular. The top recreational activities include kayaking, jogging, walking, hiking, and camping.

This article is for the people who love to spend their time outdoors, enjoying new adventures in fresh air.

How can outdoor recreational activities be beneficial to you?

The foremost advantage of spending time outdoors is gaining a good mental spirit and healthy balance of your body. Not only will it help in giving you the liveliness that everyone should have, but it will also pump your life force and the love of living.

Activities such as walking, bird watching, kayaking and camping all make you feel happier while appreciating the beauty that we often forget during our busy hours at the office. Nowadays the stress level has increased so much in everyone's life that everyone, without exception, describes a small break to get rid of this stress. Sometimes a small walk in the park will do the trick and can lighten up your tensions and make you feel happy.

In today's hectic life styles, we hardly find time to spend with our families and friends. Engaging regularly in various outdoor activities can help you create much stronger bonds with your family and friends. You can interact and talk more with your friends and family while sharing the astonishing experiences of a different outdoor activity each time you go out.

How can outdoor recreation help you in saving money?

Our lives are never smooth and secured; Everyone comes across various difficult times in their lifetime. Taking the time to engage in simple outdoor recreations will not only help you mentally, but you will also find that it costs close to nothing. For example hiking does not cost anything when compared with cycling. All you need is a pair of good shoes and a mountaintop to hike to. Another example is simply playing outdoors with your kids. Nothing will beat playing soccer or tags with your kids, especially when you take time off from a stressful job.

While there is other activities like hunting that are somewhat costlier however they will provide you with a lot of thrills and great sense of accomplishment. If you can not afford spending money on such activities then you still have many options that will definitely suit your pocket.

You should try to spend as much time as possible in these types of activities. You should also encourage your friends, family and kids to spend such a wonderful time together building good memories. Nothing can be more enjoyable and beneficial than gaining a good and healthy lifestyle by being in the outdoors.

Take full advantage of the beautiful world we live in and its alluring nature that surrounds us that we inheriting for centuries from our ancestors.

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Pros and Cons of Wild Animals As Pets

Many people find the idea of ​​having wildlife as pet as exotic and exciting. However, if you want a wild animal as a pet, you should have thorough understanding of the animal and its behavior and needs. The people who have these animals as pets are invariably trained to handle them, but even they will tell how unpredictable these animals can be. You may have read stories in the newspaper of zoo keepers being mauled by their wards.

So, having wild animals as pets has become quite a sensitive and controversial issue. Some people like to highlight the pros, while others just point out the cons. However, both should be weighed equally and only then a decision should be taken to keep a wild animal as a pet.

Here are some pros and cons of wildlife as pets.

Sometimes, conventional pets like dogs and cats can not be kept due to lack of space. In such circumstances, one can keep a wildlife like a hedgehog or gecko as a pet as they do not require that much space. Some wild animals have their own benefits. Like a hedgehog can be used to keep insects and others pests at bay in a house.

Often it has been seen purchasing a wild animal can be cheaper than purchasing a pet that is popular and has a pedigree.

Also, many proponents of wild animals feel that some species have a better chance of survival if they are adopted. It has been seen that the dart frog is facing a problem in the wild as its natural habitat is diminishing. Here, if this animal is adopted, it will have a better chance of survival.

However, there are sufficient cons and disadvantages of owning wild animals as pets. First of all, one has to take into consideration the welfare of the animal. Having a wildlife means giving due consideration to its diet, exercise and social interactions. Often, the animal will not have any interaction with other animals of its own species and will be left to lead a lonely and solitary life. Also, the owners will not be equipped to provide proper care to the animals as they may not be well-versed in these things. Many wild animals look cute and cuddly when they are small. However, as they reach adulthood or sexual maturity, their wild side takes over and the animal becomes aggressive. This is the time many owners abandon their pets or give them away to zoos.

Wild animals are carriers of many diseases that are lethal to humans. For instance, reptiles and amphibians are carriers of salmonella infection and each year thousands of people in the US contract this disease due to their pets. Also, rats imported from Africa are known to carriers of monkey pox. An outbreak of this disease occurred in the US in 2003 when Gambian rats bought in the monkey pox into the country.

Above all, the demand for wildlife as pet is increasing. So, many illegal traders are taking advantage of this demand. Most of the wild animals are captured and then transported in cruel and inhuman manner to reach their owners. In addition, majority of the owners do not know to take care of the animals and this causes them to fall sick or even die.

So, weigh the pros and cons of having wild animals as pets before jumping to adopt one. Make sure that you are properly equipped to handle the care of the animal. Do not adopt one if you have any doubts.

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10 Types of Jewelry For Men

When we think of jewelry, we automatically think of jewelry for women. These days it is becoming increasingly common and fashionable for men to wear jewelry. Although much of men’s jewelry serves a purpose, there are many items that have no other purpose than to complement a man’s natural good looks. Read on to discover some obvious (and some not so obvious) jewelry choices for men.

Make a Statement with Men’s Jewelry

1. Watches

Timepieces have been around for a few centuries and serve a useful purpose. Jewelry or machine? Honestly, a watch is really a piece of jewelry that also happens to tell time. This is a way to get men who do not like wearing “jewelry” to actually wear jewelry without knowing it. The type of watch worn has to match the image the man wants to project,: a watch for the executive, a Swatch for the artist, a Nike for the athlete. Since many men have active lifestyles, there are different watches designed for different activities.

2. Rings

The next most common piece of jewelry men wear is a ring. The reason being in just about every culture, rings are worn to symbolize marriage between two people. Rings have been around for ages. Unlike watches, they do not serve a purpose, but when worn on the left ring finger, they do send out a signal about a man’s marital status. Wedding rings used to be made out of just gold or platinum. In fact, it wasn’t until recently that wedding ring designers began to experiment with the idea of using alternative metals. One of the first alternative metals was titanium. The metal was valued for its light weight, white color and strength. It is used for many other types of jewelry, not just rings. Only less than 5 years ago, tungsten carbide – a relatively unknown metal to the general public – suddenly exploded in popularity. It now comprises 20% of all men’s wedding ring sales in North America. Men’s tungsten wedding bands are valued for their extreme hardness. They are four times harder than titanium and have a hefty weight that men like. Tungsten is so hard that only a diamond or sapphire can scratch it. Tungsten is also very affordable. If you want to stick to a precious metal ring, but don’t want to pay through your nose for a gold or platinum ring, palladium may be the way to go. Palladium rings look and act just like platinum because both these metals are from the same family of metals, the Platinum Group Metals. Palladium, however, is about 70% less expensive than platinum rings. Many jewelers only deal with a few select metals.

3. Earring(s)

Traditionally for women, the earring is now accepted by society for men. Some men wear one earring and some wear two. Men that have traditional jobs in an office setting are often discouraged from wearing earrings or not allowed to wear them by company policy. Although, less popular as a man’s gift, earrings are here to stay as men’s jewelry.

4. Bracelets

Although less popular than watches, bracelets are a piece of jewelry many men wear. Men’s bracelets used to be made of heavier and more expensive metals such as gold, but alternative metals are becoming increasingly popular. The variety of materials used for bracelets are more varied than for rings or watches, and many of them are not even metals. There are bracelets made of wooden beads, carbon fiber, and ceramics, as well as stainless steel and titanium. Frequently, they incorporate more than one of the above mentioned materials.

5. Necklaces

Necklaces were worn by more men in the past than today. Men who wear necklaces tend to wear just one. In the past there was a higher tendency to wear multiple necklaces. Multiple necklaces can be viewed as tacky or “slimy” today, and as such many men today avoid wearing multiple necklaces.

6. Pendants

Men have mostly switched from wearing necklaces to wearing pendants. Pendants can be used to show a man’s religious faith or just to express oneself. The most common pendant to wear is the cross, in countless variations, and much like bracelets, pendants which were mostly made of gold in the past are now being made in all kinds of metallic and non-metallic materials. Some men wear pendants in conjunction with necklaces, while others choose to wear their pendants around their neck with a modest black leather cord.

7. Cuff Links

Commonly referred to as men’s accessories, cuff links are actually jewelry that men wear without thinking they’re there just keep shirt cuffs buttoned, right? Cufflinks are most often worn in an office setting where more professional dress is required. They make great Father’s Day gifts or birthday gifts. They are usually made of stainless steel or in some cases titanium. Gold is used, but is less common.

8. Money Clip

Men who like to show they have higher status, or at least the appearance of high status, tend to use money clips. With credit cards beings so ubiquitous, many men do not have cash in their pockets, which defeats the purpose of a money clip. The clip part of the money clip is typically made of stainless steel and if there is a decorative element on the clip it can be made of silver, gold or some other type of material. Money clips are usually given on the same occasions as cuff links.

9. Fountain Pens

Designer fountain pens can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, and tend to be gifts that companies give to their male and female executives. They can also be given to friends or spouses. In today’s high tech world, writing with pens is less common – even signatures can be electronic now. The fountain pen is becoming more of a piece of jewelry than a functional item.

10. Key Chains

Key chains are a jewelry item used to perform a function more than jewelry. For this reason, few key chains are made of expensive metals. Most are made of stainless steel, leather or titanium. This is a gift that is popular for Father’s Day or birthdays, particularly from a son or daughter.

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