Think twice before creating a system in which customers deal only with salespeople. Often you can provide better service--andrun your company more efficiently--if you let customers deal directly with the people who help make the product.

It was with that thought in mind that Hugh Vestal reorganized his machine-tool business, Carbide Surface, in ClintonTownship, Mich. Customers who need a tool coated with carbide talk directly with one of the five "impregnators" who actuallydo the coating. The impregnator schedules the job, arranges for delivery of the part, performs the work, and submits a job-costform to Vestal, the president of the company.

Customers like the system because it spares them from having to work through intermediaries. Shop workers like it because itchallenges them and breaks up the monotony of the job. And salespeople like it because it frees them to concentrate on gettingnew business.

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