Sidney Smith wants to involve employees in his cost-containment efforts. In June he asked how to encourage and reward their suggestions ("Power of Suggestion," [Article link]).
In Commit to Quality (Wiley, 1990, $12.95), Patrick L. Townsend and Joan E. Gebhardt tell how to organize employees into quality teams and reward them for projects that improve quality and reduce costs. Rewarding team -- rather than individual -- efforts builds cooperation and prevents the negative impact that can attend traditional award programs. Teams develop and implement their own projects and measure the results, so they feel greater ownership of the projects and are more likely to support them. Because awards honor quantifiable results, employees perceive them to be fair.
Blair C. James
Salt Lake City
Like many mail-order companies lacking a storefront, Daniel Sherron's can't get a merchant credit-card account, which would allow his customers to pay by credit card for his car-stereo-electronics equipment. In June Network suggested he place his product in an appropriate catalog and let the catalog company worry about credit-card orders ("Taking Credit," [Article link]).
Don't go with a second-party catalog. We did it years ago, selling our product at a discount to a computer-software catalog in exchange for placement in the catalog. We thought we'd sell enough to make it worthwhile. We were wrong. We sold thousands of dollars of products but saw not a penny. Worse, catalog discounts destroyed several other reseller relationships. Customers said they could get our product cheaper from catalogs than direct from us.
Instead, seek bundling agreements with stereo manufacturers, offering your product as an original equipment manufacturer. (But get a patent first.) And try to get reviewed in the trade press to generate interest from a distributor, retailer, or manufacturer. Or try direct mail, using lists from automobile or consumer electronics magazines. Ship the product COD and absorb the extra charge.