BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE PROJECT
SME Best Practices in the Service Sector was conducted primarily to have a deeper understanding on Business Excellence practices in Japan.
The winners in different categories each conducted their talk on their philosophy & motivation in order to innovate towards national competitiveness.
Site Visits conducted enabled the participants to have a feel of the actual environment of the companies featured, esp Kikuya, wherein observation extended to actual plant visit.
Each country representative discussed the problems being faced in their respective industry ranging from talent acquisition & retention, talent competencies, service expectations & standardization of services.
OBJECTIVES FOR PARTICIPATION
The Workshop on Best Practices in the Service Sector, primarily to provide key concepts of business excellence in customer satisfaction and shared learnings in the various cases studies of foreign counterparts.
Being able to gain key insights from successful entrepreneurs in Japan, who are Service Excellence Awardees in various categories.
It is expected that there will be tangible results that will be gained from the experience, and be able to develop realistic action plans that will be applicable to the current business I am involved in.
A total of 17 participants from 14 countries attended the workshop. 7 participants were from the public sector, while the rest were involved in SMEs in their respective countries.
I am the lone Philippines representative, in the field of Retail. The other participant from Retail, is from Singapore, who represented Charles & Keith.
It was a diverse mix of culture from the Asia Pacific. Even though the attendees met for the first time, the group was able to establish a good rapport within a short span of time. Each actively participated in the discussions.
OUTCOMES AND EVALUATION
At the end of the 4 Day Session, there was an overwhelming feeling, of having obtained so many invaluable ideas. The learnings gathered has exceeded my expectations. The next thing would be to evaluate it in terms of its applicability to the Philippine Setting.
The presentations made by the Entrepreneurs provided insight into Japanese way of thinking. The discipline & hardwork instilled in them as a Japanese trait is admirable. Who would have imagined that a simple business such as a Beauty Salon of Okhushi would make use of consumer research, and have 160 different cut styles. They listen to customers and make their strategies according to feedback. In our setting, the Salon is dependent on the hairdresser most in demand.
Starway President, Mr. Takemoto, was not disheartened when the product he developed did not take off, he decided to come up with a different business model, in order to make it feasible for companies to invest in e-star packs, he came up with the logistics / rental arrangements. He has since partnered with Toppan Forms to handle distribution, and he is looking at expanding his business outside of Japan.
RECOMMENDATIONS AND ACTION STEPS
The workshop is focused primarily on SMEs, in the Service Industry. As I shared with my own company, the key success factors are not rocket science, we do not have to be too complicated in the things that we conceptualize. The principles & insights presented not only serves as inspiration for us, but are things that we can emulate in our business.
There are 3 key learnings that can be duplicated in our country regardless of the nature of business:
1. Kaizen ( Manufacturing Process Improvement ) that can also be adapted in the other business models as well.
2. Internal Research in the form of Employee Surveys / Employee Dialogues. Action planning is necessary to work towards Employee Well Being
3. Development of Corporate / Management Philosophy , then shared regularly with everybody in the company. It serves as a guiding principle for each individual.
It is only these past few months since I learned about the program that I have started to be informed about what goes on in APO Philippines. I have already attended a learning session, and indeed, successful entrepreneurs selflessly share their stories.
In the Retail Environment where I belong, there is yet to be more awareness in so far as Productivity Efforts are concerned. In the absence of benchmark references, most of the metrics use are those of the obvious & easily quantifiable. Best practices are not readily shared. The Philippine Retailers Association can provide a good linkage to reach the Retail sector. The PRA holds regular assemblies and sends out circulars to member organizations.
Senior Vice-President for Retail
The Expressions Company