17/04/2007 - 22:00

Service a sales tool that's often forgotten

17/04/2007 - 22:00


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We have a few great columnists whose fine work is to be found in the back half of this paper.

We have a few great columnists whose fine work is to be found in the back half of this paper.

Several are focused on specific areas of business advice, such as Jeff Gitomer’s sales column, along with Dan Kehoe and Verne Harnish whose look at wider management issues.

US-based Harnish has taken his engagement with our newspaper to another level with his recent workshop in Perth to help high-growth companies.

I love his take on things. This week he discusses the idea of using two screens (Bill Gates has three) to improve productivity.

But it was a column of a couple of weeks ago that really caught my attention, at first because it was about an Australian medical practitioner whom he’d met during his visit here.

The case study revolved around improving the medical practice’s bottom line by improving things for the customer. That is, not making them wait.

I was reminded of this take on things the other day when I visited a medical practitioner.

I turned up precisely at the time booked, having had to travel out of the city a reasonable distance. I then waited almost 40 minutes, while people who arrived later than I did were treated first. The consultation, when I was finally got past reception, took all of three minutes.

It was second time in six months I’d received this treatment, so I guess I should’ve learned a lesson.

It is amazing, though, that this is not an unusual experience.

I am aware that it’s hard to manage customers. They fail to turn up, they arrive late and their problems don’t always fit neatly into seven minutes or whatever period the practitioner has decided is the optimum time to keep their business ticking over.

I also have a lot of respect for many medical people. When we are in real trouble we often realise how important they are to us.

Nevertheless, in this day and age, leaving people waiting for long periods is more than just rude; it’s bad for business.

It costs me time, often from work because understandably, few medicos outside the hospital system are keen to work after hours.

I will look for somewhere else to go, ever hopeful that if I’m on time, so might the practitioner.


Time for candidates to make a statement

This week we’ve taken a look at the Perth mayoral election race for 2007. 

It would be great to see someone who really had a plan to move Perth’s CBD into the 21st century. In the past I found business fairly apathetic on this topic, but things have changed.

The skills shortage has really focused business people on the need for the city to be attractive to people who can live and work anywhere in the world.

Increasingly, business sees the need to develop the foreshore and more lively entertainment areas as human resources issues.

Regrettably, business is not sufficiently organised in this area. Despite representing 95 per cent (or so) of the city’s revenue and a similar percentage of the city’s daytime population, they are largely outvoted by the tiny residential base in the city.

Sometimes I wonder if the city would not be better represented by an appointee rather than a mayor who represents just a few thousand individuals.

While there are some true achievers in the current field, I do hear many in business who desire someone who would have the background to champion Perth and get it past the semi-provincialism that seems to linger from the 1950s.

Having said that, the building blocks are there.

No matter how you criticise Perth, what is needed is very simple and, with examples from other cities, does not take a great leap of faith.

The foreshore development from Sydney’s Darling Harbour and some busy dining areas a la Melbourne would be a good start.

These would build on the city’s strengths – that it is well serviced by public transport, it has a beautiful outlook, it is clean and relatively crime-free.

Also, as much as I am suspicious of inner-city residents who complain about noise and other collateral damage that they should expect to come with their choice of residence, they may well be the key to bringing more life to the city at night by helping make the entertainment sector more sustainable.

More bars and eateries are needed, especially on the streets where our climate allows people to be outside enjoying the fresh air and presenting life outdoors, rather than tucking it away unseen.

New liquor licensing regulations ought to make this possible.

At the smaller end of the scale, tolerating more street music entertainment and food vendors while maintaining the clean, crime-free atmosphere ought to be a challenge for whoever replaces outgoing lord mayor, Peter Nattrass.

At the larger end, someone is needed who can lead Perth into its rightful place as the capital of a vibrant, healthy and growing state with a real global outlook.

The job is not easy, but it has to be done. Getting someone in business to run is a big ask due to the commitment involved, but that is what readers I speak to seem to want.

Such a person might at least get business issues on the agenda, even if they don't end up taking the mayorship. 

Let the race begin.


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