Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Schick-Wilkinson Sword: Installment 1

Schick-Wilkinson Sword is an international organization recently acquired by the Energizer Company from Pfizer in 2002. They are a twenty share in the United States razor market, which is far shot second to the market leader, Gillette (owned by Duracell). They have picked up about 5 points over the last three years in the multi-billion dollar industry thanks to their new innovations, Intuition and Quattro, the world's first ever 4-bladed razor. The media has dubbed Schick's first attempt to beat Gillette to the market with new technology as the "Razor War". Schick was actually the premiere razor big shot since the industrial revolution, as they mass produced the world's first ever two-bladed razor before the arrival of Gillette. However, since the era of the Mach 3, Gillette has taken on a sizable growth over Schick, which has been a passive number two competitor for over the last decade.

Time is money for a growing company trying to make a run at their industry competition, so by communicating more efficiently I feel Schick can shave a few dollars off of their expenditures, increasing profits. As Michelle, who is reviewing Hall, Kistler & Co. LLP, stated "a company must be open to change if they want to keep ahead in their industry."

The first objective is to get to the retailers. This is a task for the sales department, and indeed is the most important process to undergo. Marketing is important, but unless the product is on the shelves, no one is making money. Over 40% of Schick's total U.S. income is derived from Wal-Mart. This gives Wal-Mart an unprecedented foothold in our success. The simple fact that Schick can really only do as good as Wal-Mart is something that we mush focus on, and change. Wal-Mart is an important client and will always be the most important, with over 100 million customers walking through its doors every year, however we must diversify our product flow in order to reach different demographics and new money.

Here are our largest customers in order of revenue spent...

If we are able to have an increased, more efficient flow of communication between these primary customers we will be able to do damage. Wal-Mart has recently developed a strategy called predictive sales; I've posted a portion of the NY Times article, which details the strategy on my study guide blog for those of you that would like to see. During the hurricane season this year in Florida the method worked to a "T" thanks to flawless counts of data and good timing. Wal-Mart found out that before a hurricane the sales of strawberry pop-tarts increased 7 times its normal capacity. And while many people might believe that water would be the top seller among pre-hurricane goods, it was actually beer. So as the hurricane began to head towards the coast of Florida with about one week until landfall, trucks packed full of toaster treats and twelve packs headed out to every Wal-Mart in Florida and along the coastline. The profits for this period were unprecedented, and I suggest that Schick do the same.

While we may not have the capacity to record the same amount of data as Wal-Mart, (which by expert analysis contains twice the amount of data as the internet itself) Schick must step up its market research approach in order to know what the customer is going to do, before they do it. By linking up with our major clients and giving them access to this information we will be able to increase their profits as well as our own. As earlier stated, the prime objective is to get to the retailers. We will have to change our org. flow chart so that we have the market research department working more closely with both our sales department as well as our prime clients like Wal-Mart and CVS.

Schick relies heavily on e-mail and voice mail forwarding to send messages. I intend to diversify our communication methods so that the entire company can be more quickly informed on a larger scale. Since the vast majority of our product is produced in China any type of delayed information (especially pertaining to product in stock and product on shelves) hurts us in a large way. When the Quattro first hit the shelves there was an error in inventory count which cost the company millions due to the fact we were forced to ship needed product by air instead of waterways. This type of communication breakdown is unacceptable and we must better our techniques in order to prevent this from happening in the future.

Wiki's are the big up and comer in intercorporate communication. Disney and Kodak are a couple of the pioneers that switched over to these "message boards", which allow everyone the opportunity to post messages and information on one organized page. Instead of sending the message out to everyone, we send everyone to the message.

As we know from chapter 12, communication and change, problems might present themselves with this new method of communicating. Some employess may not take the time to understand how to use the wikis and others may opt not to try at all. It will be necessary to illustrate the importance that everyone use the new system as we are a quickly growing organization with new needs. Without all nodes connecting to our main node (the wiki board) there will be a communication break, resulting in lost productivity.

The yearly National Sales Convention at Milford, Connecticutt is the most important communication period for the company. Employees from every region of the U.S. come together to outline the next year's plan and agenda. This is where we must introduce the new communication system, so that its importance in emphasized.

Chapter 14 deals with conflict in communication. A lot of the conflict that presents itself on the corporate level deals with people undermining each other's ideas. As Imbie stated, "to agree or not to agree, that is the question." While it is okay to disagree, problems do arise if people feel they are undermined by co-workers. With a wiki board everyone is able to post their own ideas and take credit for them. There is no classic example of Roger has a great idea for the company, but then Bill takes credit for it in front of the big boss. Employess can openly express their ideas for the company without worried about being undermined making the workplace a more productive environment.