Open tabs 5/4/11
Following the previous entry of open tabs (tagged News From You) and the ADHD side effect of having too many windows open, here is today’s edition.
I should mention the open tabs thing is worse now that I’ve upgraded to FireFox 4. Now you can group tabs according to different subjects in the background (I love it!). Mine are production scheduling, business, cotton and vanity sizing. I have 33 37 55 open…
Manufacturing: Yet another mega consulting firm has realized that outsourcing doesn’t work. Here’s a quote:
[...]Accenture found that 61 percent are considering moving some of their manufacturing back to their home market. Ferreira and Heilala describe this as being a “secret shift” and a “quiet trend.”
Many manufacturing companies that shifted production offshore “likely did so without a complete understanding of the ‘total costs,’ and thus, the total cost of offshoring was considerably higher than initially thought,” write the two analysts. “Part of the issue is that not all costs of offshoring roll up directly to manufacturing; rather, they impact many areas of the enterprise.”
Not that I’ve ever said differently, (I know folks e-pat me on the head and wink behind my back over my irascible inflexibility) I still think the best move anyone can make is to start their own sewing factory because you’ll be much better positioned by the time everyone else figures they need domestic cut and sew and finding any open production slots in the US will be an even harder scramble.
Speaking of, many domestic cut and sew operations are expanding. This operation in Olive Hill KY is hiring 200 sewing machine operators.
Business: Someone in the forum posted a link to a new-to-me blog called In Good Company. Call it preaching to the choir, their mission is supporting the choice to grow smart by starting small. A good introduction is 5 Reasons NOT to grow your business.
In the same vein, BNET has three recent articles posted. The first is How to hit it big (and why you’re not ready yet) -how many times have I hit that theme? Maybe it’ll hit home coming from someone else. The story features the story of one business that bucked the trend of getting into big box stores by starting with one. By the way, Whole Foods isn’t the only major retailer that facilitates small business vendors.
The second BNET story is Beware the Entrepreneur’s Debt Trap, another repeated theme on this site because money is the least of what you need. This story recounts how two brothers built the world’s largest frozen yogurt chain. Here’s an excerpt, the context is they’d originally sought a loan of $100,000:
So rather than signing a five-year commitment to get a permanent storefront in a popular mall, the Serruyas decided to take a two-month lease on a summertime kiosk. They kept their kiosk simple and bought just the yogurt they could sell that day. The Serruyas quickly paid back the $3,000 they had borrowed from their father and started saving their profits. They tested flavors, customer service approaches and price points. By the time they had accumulated enough savings to open a real store, they had hundreds of valuable lessons under their belt. These would serve them very well when they opened their first real shop.
Everyday I read messages from people who don’t have the money to launch their lines because they spent it all on a website, branding, PR, trademarking and IP and had nothing left over to actually create any designs. With no money left, they’re looking for someone to partner with to do that for them. No one is going to partner with you if your priorities (judgement) have been skewed thus far. I’m not saying any of that is bad but it’s cart before the horse. And sure, 99 out of 100 people will say I’m wrong but none of them are manufacturing. If you want a manufacturer to back you, it matters what they think more than any 100 branding experts. If those branding experts think it’s so great then why don’t they back you or front their end of the work?
The third BNET story (maybe you should subscribe) is called The exaggerated rumor of manufacturing’s death. It’s short, not much in it but I post the link so you can see that contrary to popular belief, manufacturing isn’t on its last legs. Five years from now, I think domestic apparel manufacturing will see an appreciable increase with folks running their own shops being in the best position of all.
I liked the Six Hidden Factors of Motivation (slide show) which provides clues on how to communicate with others better. As someone who is very often misinterpreted, I think Preventing Bad Judgement should be required listening. It’s akin to my beef with the Golden Rule -treat others as you want to be treated. If you’re really going to be selfless and put others first, you treat them how they want to be treated, not how you do. When communicating, don’t assume others share the same motivations and goals you do. Above all, if something goes awry, assume incompetence rather than malice because it’s usually more true than not.
Retail: John told me that some retailers in Australia are charging customers to try on clothes. The fee is refundable if you buy. I don’t know how this will go over, I only know that retailers are being hit very hard by shoppers who go to stores to try on clothes and then buy them at the lowest price they can find online. You need to keep this in mind as you try to open accounts. Never undersell your stores if you also retail and you must enforce your price points. If you have internet retail accounts that won’t and they’re scraping sales from your brick and mortar stores, you need to do something about it.
I learned what a “tell” is. In poker, it is a change in a player’s behavior that some say gives a clue as to his hand. I looked it up after reading Sex Tells. The rule is “When your product is indistinguishable from the competition, add sex.” I knew they did that but the pattern hadn’t come together for me. The long and short of it, I think “green” is becoming a tell. People say they will pay more for these products but sales continue to lag or even decrease. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it but I can only hope it is truly your core value. If you’re push manufacturing, it’s not green no matter how organic or fair trade your goods are. Besides, customers do lie to you. Always. Ignore what they say, respond based upon what they do.
Speaking of, it appears that nagging is effective. Who knew? New research shows that project managers who don’t have power or authority but nag, are much more effective using redundant communication strategies. Contrary to what we’d think, managers with power but who don’t nag (probably because they don’t think they need to) are the ones who find themselves up the creek without the proverbial paddle. Maybe the lack of nagging is why some DEs have problems. They assume that because they are the customer (bestowing work) that they hold power. I agree it’s a fine line. You don’t want someone to become so annoyed with you that they stop taking your calls…
Cotton: A story from the WSJ about Hanes moving into flax (linen). I’m sure the flax producers will be happy. Me too, my favorite fiber. Sourcing Journal (via Bloomberg) says farmers have planted record cotton crops. Analysts predict cotton prices will fall 51% by December 31st. Speaking of agriculture generally, I like to read Western Farm Press for balance. Apparel Newsletter has its own take on how it affects producers with Cotton Price Volatility Plagues Apparel Market with Uncertainty. And speaking of Apparel Newsletter, they say luxury sales are on the upswing. Lastly, New York Magazine published Trouser Math; a prediction that cotton inflation will mean skinnier jeans (I was interviewed as a source for the story).