And you know what?
Chinese New Year is just two days away.
This advertisement becomes totally irrelevant and is a waste of the company's money.
This advertisement appears on the back page of Today's, a free newspaper in Singapore.
And you know what?
Chinese New Year is just two days away.
This advertisement becomes totally irrelevant and is a waste of the company's money.
How much % increment should a good company give to a staff?
A friend Whatsapp this question to me yesterday, to which I replied, "There are no good companies."
She asked, "How much increment should a company gives to a good staff?"
I replied, "What is your definition of good staff? Is he or she someone who reports to work everyday, has been with the company for many years, or what?"
I went further to quote a staff from her company who reports to work everyday and has been with the company for at least 20 years. But all this lady does everyday is walking around chatting with colleagues and staff from other departments, always asking for help just to move a few magazines and was exempted from performing duties by the boss that are required for her job title.
An exchange of messages ensued.
I was rather surprised at my friend's question knowing that she has worked for 20 over years.
Is this the mindset that most employees have towards their companies? A company is a good company if the increment meets the employee's expectation and a lousy one if it doesn't. Or is it a sense of entitlement that you deserve the increment regardless of your performance?
Can one expect to be entitled to pay raise every year for performing exactly the same kind of duties?
I often wonder how can a business be sustainable if a company increase the pay of staff every year doing the same job, without adding more value to their jobs and to the company.
Look at what most companies are doing. They are either making their existing products or services cheaper for the customers, improving their products with new features that helps solve customers' problems easier or introducing new products or services to solve new problems. Either way, they are adding value.
And if a business owner thinks that he or she can continues to raise price (even though costs are increasing) without adding more values to customers, they will be in for a rude shock.
Some competitors will find a new way to sell the same item or service cheaper than you. A new innovation may make your product or service redundant. Customers may find a substitute product or service that they can live with.
Back to the conversation with my friend.
Instead of asking the question she asked, would it be better to ask "What values did I add to the company for last year to justify a pay increase and what values can I add to the company this year to justify the percentage increase?"
See how the pattern of thinking shifts.
And not to worry about whether your company is good or not. If you've really added value to the company, the company cannot afford to keep you for long with pathetic pay increment. It's either you will be headhunted by the competitors or you will start looking to leave.
So learn to ask the right questions. And right questions includes stupid questions.
Do anything you want.
Print into postcard to send your customers.
Enlarge it and use as target for your dart.
There was an amusing news yesterday.
It was an announcement by Singapore's Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan about removal of a particular clause under National Environment Agency (NEA) hawker licensing requirement on his Facebook page.
He was responding to a hawker-stall holder Daniel Goh's Facebook post on this clause.
Apparently, Daniel's neighbor stall has just renewed his license and spotted this odd clause. This clause states that "in the case of a cooked food stall, no restaurant type of dishes shall be sold unless the licensee has been authorized to do so in writing by the Director-General of Public Health."
How do you classify a dish as a restaurant type dish?
Of course, it does not make any sense at all.
As usual, many people say this reflects a case of what the top does not know what his subordinates are doing. It's possible that he did not even read about the Facebook post. Probably an administrator of his Facebook page brought up this to his attention.
Did the clause mean to say hawker stalls are not allowed to charge restaurant type price? If this is the case, then the clause is way off it's intended meaning. The clause not only does not make sense, it creates more red tape for everyone.
Talking about pricing.....
Most businesses priced their products and services based on what their competitors are charging. They look around and see what other similar businesses are charging and priced themselves accordingly. This is a safe bet as you are offering a similar product or service at a price that is acceptable by existing customers who are already accustomed to the price.
Business owners are worried of pricing themselves too high to chase away the customers. They are afraid of pricing too low and become unprofitable. However, if you priced according to competitors, you are teaching customers to make buying decision based on price. When you compete based on price, you risk turning your product or service into a commodity.
So how do you price your product or service?
When it comes to pricing, it is different for everyone.
What you consider as expensive may be cheap to others. What you consider cheap is seen as expensive to others.
If you own a restaurant, does it mean that you can charge high prices like other restaurants? Generally this is the case as people already expect to pay the kind of price. It's easier for you to justify for the prices you charge. Customers are not just paying for the food. They are paying for the brand and its promise, the expensive cutlery, the expected quality of food, the ambience, the better seats, the nicely laid out table, the service, the aircon and other frills.
Conversely, if you own a hawker stall, does it mean that you have to charge low prices like the other hawkers? Anyway, there's no aircon, no service to talk about, no ambience, customers do not expect high quality of food, etc.
The answer is it depends.
It depends on who do you want to attract? Do you want to attract big bosses who like the feel of olden days? Do you want to attract working professionals? Or do you want to attract the elderly? Are you aiming for niches or mass market?
It also depends on what do your prospective customers want? Are they only concern about the taste? Are they particular about cleanliness and hygiene? Do they want affordable price for the quantity? Do they want high quality and price is not an issue?
On top of that, you need to justify the price you charge with the value you provide.
If you are a hawker stall and you want to charge $30 for a plate of fried rice, how are you going to justify to your target customers that it's worth the price? You definitely cannot bank on nice ambience, aircon, etc. Are you going to bet on taste, quantity, quality or service? Do you have a secret recipe? Or you're unique precisely because you've been around for forty years ? Do you have a brand to build on? A promise? Will customers overlook cleanliness and service for the taste?
While its easier to charge higher prices for a restaurant, it doesn't mean that you do not need to justify for it. With higher pricing, customers' expectations will also be higher.
Whenever I visit Bangkok, I stay at Sukhumvit Road. It's two stops away from the main shopping belts in Bangkok by the skytrain. There's a night market as well. And the whole stretch of Sukhumvit Road is filled with pubs, restaurants, cafes, shopping malls, 5-star hotels and high-class residential condominiums. It's one of the favorite hangout and accommodation area for expatriates and tourists.
And when there are tourists and expatriates, some things are a little more expensive.
I remember buying Tom Yung Goong from a street hawker for 200 Baht only to find out that a 24-hour air-conditioned restaurant on the same street is selling the same item for only 150 Baht. Both taste just as delicious.
Of course I prefer to eat at the restaurant than sitting by the side of the road inhaling the exhaust fumes from the vehicles passing by, especially in the heat. For those of you who want the experience of eating by the roadside, you'll probably choose the street stall over the restaurant.
On the other hand, I had eaten at non air-conditioned restaurants in Bangkok's Chinatown (Yaowarat Road) for a dish that costs the same as the higher class restaurants, because it was renowned to be one of the best and the outdoor atmosphere was just great.
Whether customers feel that your prices are expensive or not depends on the value they get. If they see no value in the price you charge, even $1 is considered expensive to them. If you charge $500 and they derive $5,000 value from it, it's not expensive to them.
No one is stopping you from selling a high price dish at a hawker setting. It does not mean also that a high class restaurant is entitled to charge high prices.
The important thing is to make sure your target customers get more value than the price they pay, so the price is no longer an issue.
13th January 2014, the day People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), the anti-government protestors will shutdown Bangkok city by occupying major road intersections in a bid to force the current government to step down.
Although the current government has proposed a election on 2nd February 2014, it has been rejected by the opposition parties.
Situation can turn nasty if the pro-government red-shirt clashes with the anti-government protestors.
Everything is so uncertain even the locals do not know what will happens next.
My neighbor, Susan booked a flight to Bangkok on 9th February. She was telling us that her Thai friend advised her not to book her accommodation in case the situation there gets worse and she needs to postpone her travel.
There were many cancellations of trips to Bangkok since the protest started in November 2013. As the situation gets more tense, airlines are reducing flight frequency to this favorite city as travel demand drops further.
The question most travelers going to Bangkok during this period is "To go, cancel or to postpone?"
And if postpone, to when? After all, no one knows how long this is going to lasts. It could be a few days, a few weeks or a few months.
But one thing that you can be certain of is, when everything is over and peace is restored, the tourists will be back. And they will be back in great numbers especially after the pent-up demand during this period.
Susan was telling me about her colleague who has not been to Bangkok for over twenty years. She said her colleague did not understand why she goes to Bangkok a few times a year, thinking she is crazy. This guy often travels to Malaysia for short trips. But when he went back to Bangkok for the first time after so many years, he was WOWED. He fell in love with the city right away and rather choose to go Bangkok anytime over Malaysia.
I used to think that Bangkok is hot, dirty and has nothing to offer until my first trip there. And there's no stopping after that.
I always find myself asking this question even before my Bangkok trip is over. "When am I coming back again?" Do you catch yourself doing this?
Bangkok is chaotic, not clean like Singapore. There's no proper city planning. There's no order and proper control. Yet, it has the charm to attract tourists, makes them fall in love with the city and wants to keep coming back.
There are probably other places that makes you want to go back again and again. Maybe it's Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan or Italy.
Do your business possess the charms to attract customers to keep coming back to you? What's the reason that your customers are coming back?
News about shortage of hospital beds in Singapore's public hospitals made headline recently.
In fact, it looks like the situation is getting worse with report of patients being housed in temporarily setup air-conditioned tents and corridors of wards. Patients at hospitals facing bed crunch are also sent to other hospitals with spare beds. Not only that, some patients waited up to 24 hours for an inpatient bed despite boosting capacity.
As a patient, this is a very unpleasant experience. Imagine you are suffering from some acute illness and need to be warded for medical treatment. Yet, you are made to wait for a bed. And when you get one, you end up at some place along the corridors with visitors walking in and out. I don't think anyone want others to see them looking haggard and in pain. You won't be able to rest well too.
So what caused the bed crunch?
If what was reported in the news is accurate, the problem has been around since 2008. Did the situation get worse this time? Or perhaps the situation has not improved at all after all these years.
Of course, hospitals do not run like a hotel where you know exactly the available capacity at any one time. Sometimes, a patient may be fit for discharge but the family members want to extend it for another day to monitor the situation. It's a decision the doctors have to make daily based on the patient's condition.
Mr Liak Teng Lit, head of Alexandra Health which runs Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, described the situation as abnormal as public hospitals usually experience a dip in patients during this period.
On the other hand, Dr Chia Shi-Lu, a member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health, said the crunch may be due to the holiday season rather than a spike in illness.
Immediately, there was a public uproar over his comment. Frankly speaking, is there anyone who rather choose to be admitted to the hospital during the holiday season than stay home?
But if you think about it, it may be true. Mr Liak explained how some patients refuse to be discharged because their families are on holiday, and there is no one at home to take care of them. So does it mean that this kind of thing happens every year during the holiday season?
And if this is not due to spike in illness, what really caused the bed crunch? Was it due to controllable or uncontrollable factors?
Will building more hospitals solve the problem?
And what can you learn from this?
1. Taken out of context
While what Dr Chia said may have some truth to it, but the way the message is put across is distorted and different from what the public perceived.
Most people do not read like how you write or listen to all you say. When you are crafting your message, you have to be careful not to let your message be taken out of context. You have to be very clear and precise about what you say.
2. Substantiate your statement with proof
Even with Mr Liak's explanation about how some patients refuse to be discharged, do you think the general public is going to believe him?
If you want to support your argument or point, support your comment with proof. Otherwise, it is just an opinion. If Dr Chia or Mr Liak are able to provide statistics of the comments they made, like exactly how many patients refused to be discharged and the various reasons, they would probably be more convincing.
In your message to your customers, provide as much proof and evidence as you can to support your comments.
3. Check your data
Do the hospitals have data about the kind of illness reported every month? Are there any trends from month to month? What about data for the holiday season over the past years?
If you have data, you can find out exactly the cause of the bed crunch. If it is due to certain reason not seen historically, probably there's no need to build more hospitals. If there is a trend, could there be other more effective measures to improve the situation, apart from building more hospitals?
Do you actively collect data about your customers? Careful analysis of the data can helps you uncover valuable information about your customers.
4. Look at the real reason
What is the real cause of the bed crunch? Is it really due to patients refusing to be discharged? Or is it due to the discharge procedure? Instead of speeding up the discharge procedure, can they revamp the whole accounting procedure instead? Is it due to people rushing to do their annual insurance covered check-up at the last minute?
In your business, you have to find out the real reason for your problem. You have to find out the real problem of your customers. Only then can you implement the most effective solution to solve the problem.
Ask what it costs to do it.
Ask what it costs not to do it.