Not So Hard To Swallow

I loved John Case's review of Tom Peters's new book, Thriving on Chaos ("Hard to Swallow," Required Reading, November 1987). If the book did nothing more than give you three ideas, it was completely worth reading.

If you implement the ideas at INC., your customers will 1) get their monthly issues error-free, 2) feel like a million bucks because someone at INC. really cared enough to call a subscriber, and 3) get better service when they call INC. on the telephone.

If you follow through on ideas like these, you might have the surprise of finding INC. in Peters's next book. It happened to us!

Stew Leonard Jr.
President
Stew Leondard's
Norwalk, Conn.

In the past, I too found what Tom Peters was preaching somewhat hard to swallow. Then I had the pleasure of spending one of the most educational, stimulating, and personally rewarding seminar weeks of my career at a Peters "skunk camp." We developed a set of working guidelines and project thought-starters using Tom's 45 "promises," as outlined in Thriving on Chaos.

The great thing about the program is that it emphasizes commonsense actions -- which for the most part don't even cost anything. The key is that there must be at least one person at a high level in the organization who is not just concerned about but totally obsessed with the need for quality.

Tom J. Shea
Director of Strategic Applications
Electronic Data Systems Corp.
Troy, Mich.

I believe your assessment of Thriving on Chaos is accurate.

The real keys to better service in America are the front-line and entry-level people in most organizations. They, not the chief executive officers and managers, make the first and most lasting impression on customers. Have you ever had a CEO pour you a cup of coffee, assist you on an airline, help you in a retail store, solve your billing problem, or repair your automobile?

Lee J. Hough
President
XSell Team Inc.
Scottsdale, Ariz.

Name Fame

"Tex's Chain Saw Manicure" (November) reminded me of the company-name brainstorming I did with the founders of a chain of dry-cleaning shops in high-rise office buildings.

Many names were considered: Clothes Encounters, Bruce Cleansteen, Grateful Thread, Lintball Wizard, Haagen Duds, Laundering Jew, and the Wild Cleandom were among the best. The founders finally decided on Jack & the Cleanstalk. The logo and the decor of their shop (now with several locations and still expanding) reflect the fairy tale theme.

The founders chose Jack & the Cleanstalk even after they were advised by business associates that a more serious name, such as Executive Cleaners, would attract a professional clientele. Obviously, this advice was based on an inaccurate perception of what consumers like. What consumers really appreciate is a sense of humor backed by a commitment to excellent service.

Louise B. Caplan
Office Manager
Jack & the Cleanstalk
Los Angeles

It's about time! After nine years of constant questions about the name of my production company, Almost Network Productions, I see that I was not off base, but rather among the vanguard.

What started as a lark, a temporary name, soon became established. And it has always allowed me to share my background (ABC-TV, Hollywood) with the curious, some of whom have ended up becoming clients.

What the heck! The first step is to have them notice you, and "Almost" always, the name does it. Thanks for the tip of the hat.

William M. Canter
President
Almost Network Procutsions
Kailua, Hawaii

Apple Pie Marketing

Laurel Cutler's assessment (Face-to-Face, November) of the role of market research in the marketing mix of tasks was right on.

Her last point sums it all up beautifully. "We must help our customers find something to hang onto -- to sink roots into. One hundred percent quality, real service, unique design, style -- these are the product values that deliver the human values that never change: love, pride, joy, the family, self-esteem."

David B. Ault
President
David B. Ault Associates
Dallas

Midsize Dreams

Skip Kelley's experience ("Big Dreams," Insider, November) is an excellent example of how new companies are too concerned with making it, not with thinking of what could happen if things go well or better than expected.

I started my company more than a year ago. Company growth has been incredible. But with it came lots of headaches and problems, chief of which was my impending burnout.

I then decided to merge my company with a health-care management firm. I can now breathe easier, knowing that I can concentrate on the things I enjoy and do best.

The merger has resulted in even greater expansion and growth possibilities. I own a smaller piece of a bigger company, which is just fine with me.

Leo H. Bradman
Executive Director
Bradman Therapy Centers Inc.
North Miami Beach, Fla.

Noncompete Agreement

I agree, competition among employees is detrimental to the growth of companies, especially small ones like ours ("No Contest," Managing People, November).

Although we feel very strongly about competitive spirit, we feel it should be vented against our real competition outside, not within, the company.

Francis P. Rich Jr.
Presdient
Action Equipment Co.
Londonderry, N H.

"No Contest" points the way to an improved business climate for all small companies. Although individual performance may be increased in competitive situations, competition results in duplication of effort and frequently causes lasting animosity.

When two companies compete but have slightly different strengths, each should direct customers to whichever company is best able to serve a particular need. The short-term loss of an occasional customer will be more than compensated for by referrals from the other organization, and by an increase in the total market as better service is provided.

Martin Galligan
President
Westford Disk Systmes
Carlisle, Massaa