Successful companies put a large amount
of time and effort into creating a specific image through
their products and services and they way that they are presented
to the public. Even to the extent of passing up immediate
sales if they would damage the image of the company.
At the launch of the new Commodore, Ross McKenzie
the director of Holden sales said that there were two important
things about brand image: knowing what to do and what not
to do. And something that Holden does not do is develop
Commodores for the taxi trade. "We don't do taxis," McKenzie
added. "They are detrimental to brand image."
When you are evaluating a company as a possible
investment, as conscious investors it is vital to consider
the services and products of the company. Do you like the
products? Do you use their services? What about your friends?
Would you recommend them to others? Instead of the actual
products and services, it may be even more important to
consider the image the company has, no matter whether the
image is unplanned or planned.
In the book "The Warren Buffett CEO" by Robert
Miles you get an idea of the type of management and companies
favoured by Warren Buffett. Consider the actions by Bill
Child, the head of the Berkshire Hathaway company R.C. Willey
Home Furnishings. When a warranty company employed by R.C.
Willey declared bankruptcy just days after the furniture
company had paid a cheque for $180,000 (AUD $325,000) for
warranty service, Child directed R.C. Willey to stand behind
the warranties even though it was not legally obligated
to do so.
Child said at the time. "We did it because
our reputation with our customers is the most important
thing our company has. Integrity must be constant, in good
times as well as bad. We must be honest and trustworthy
with our employees, our customers, our suppliers, and ourselves."
To satisfy all the claims, R.C. Willey eventually paid out
$1.4 million (AUD 2.55 million).
A similar philosophy is expressed by Chuck
Huggins, the president and CEO of See's Candies, another
company owned by Berkshire Hathaway. When asked to explain
See's business, he replied that it is about the customers.
It's about making sure the customer is pleased
whatever it may take, no matter how outrageous. Pleasing
them is the most important thing we can do, and is absolutely
vital to our success. We try to make the best product
we can, but sometimes we make mistakes. And there are
certain things that we do inadvertently, or because we
are not watching things carefully enough, where we dissatisfy
the customer. And when that happens, we always admit that
we blew it, and ask what we can do to make it right. And
then we stand on our heads until we get that done.
Sometimes a company establishes a certain
image only later to realise that, although they may have
got success from it, perhaps even massive international
success, they would like to change the image. Believe it
or not, McDonald's is attempting to do just that, at least
in the USA. A recent consumer survey placed McDonald's bottom
of 77 fast food chains in a range of categories from food
quality to service. According to Jack Greenburg, McDonald's
chairman and chief executive, the company is now refocusing
on quality of products, customer service and cleanliness.
It may be a case of too little too late.
Considering Australian companies, are there
any companies that stand out in terms of their willingness
to go that extra distance for their customers? Are there
any that have a strong internal philosophy that you feel
will guide them through the ups and downs of business to
sustained success? If so, then these may be companies that
are worth investigating more closely.
In some case the image a company has is based
on the vision it has for itself. The image of a company
is how the public sees it whereas the vision of a company
is how it sees itself. The vision of a company goes beyond
its immediate products and services-it determines its future
structure, how it will try to position itself in the market,
and what its offerings will be.
James Collins and Jerry Porras in their book
"Built to Last" try to determine just what makes a visionary
company. They believe a key component is a well-articulated
core ideology. This ideology, in turn, is based upon two
parts, core values which are the organisation's guiding
principles, and purpose which are the organisation's fundamental
reasons for existence beyond just making money. They argue
that over time these companies far outperform their competitors
that have not have this core ideology.
Conscious Investing is just a new company
but we do have a vision. In part this vision is to help
people become "conscious" about their finances in general
and their investing in particular. Our mission statement
is to help people create the wealth to enable them to live
the lifestyles that they choose and to champion the causes
they believe in. We may be small now, but our aims are big.
Conscious Investor is just the start.
We thank all those who have subscribed to
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list, or just visited our website. You are the reason why
we started this company and the motivation for us to put
in long hours in this early building stage. We hope that
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