Golden Business Ideas


Quality Improvement Programs
Trap: When announcing a quality improvement plan, be careful not to denigrate the current process. Doing so can be considered an insult by the staff.

Make it a point to invite employees to actively participate in the redesign even if you brought in a team of expert consultants. It will generate support for the program and make the staff feel more involved.

Also, make it clear to employees that good ideas come not only from experts; in fact, their hands-on experience gives them the advantage of dealing with problems most effectively. This, too, will generate support and ease whatever resentment they may have toward the “intruding” consultants.

Tracking Dormant Accounts
Losing a customer is one of the most costly hidden business expenses. Not only has the company lost the client’s future revenue, but all the time and effort that went into developing the relationship goes down the drain, too.

So what can you do to stop such losses?
While the sales and marketing department is responsible for luring the customer back, the accounting department can help to stop such losses in the first place by advising the sales team to set up its database to signal an alert when an account suddenly goes dormant or the ordering level drops. At that point, the sales team should check with the customer to look into the problem and try to correct it.

Hone Your Management Style
Question 1. Do you find yourself fussing about the efficiency of your employees—worrying about how they perform rather than what they are doing?

Question 2. Do you put off tackling tough issues—figuring with time they may solve themselves?

If you answered yes to either or both questions, you probably have some serious soul searching to do about your management style. Focusing on efficiency—the less difficult issue—rather than the rationale for the activity in the first place could be a sign that you don’t like to tackle fundamental problems.

About Question 2: Delay in addressing a management problem may be a way of denying its existence. After all, problems usually don’t solve themselves.

Why Customer Complaints Are Good
No, the headline is not an error! If your company receives no gripes from customers or clients, don’t celebrate. It may be a sign of serious trouble. Even the best businesses have their share of unhappy customers—and when the grumblers communicate with you, at least you know what needs to be done to make things right. But if there is no feedback from customers by letter or phone, that may mean they have given up on you and are switching quietly to another supplier.

What to do about it: Encourage feedback—use questionnaires, provide a special e-mail address for gripes (and compliments), conduct phone surveys and train front-line employees to watch for signs of dissatisfaction and report them to management.

An Invitation
The JofA publishes a monthly collection of Golden Business Ideas and invites readers to contribute their favorites (for attribution, if you like).

Send your ideas to Senior Editor Stanley Zarowin via either e-mail ( zarowin@mindspring.com ) or regular mail at the Journal of Accountancy , Harborside Financial Center, 201 Plaza Three, Jersey City, NJ 07311-3881.

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