Sometimes the most unusual Network questions elicit the smartest responses -- take a look at this month's tips on marketing fertility monitors. The letter we received from a would-be exporter of classic cars may therefore find an expert to answer it. If you're not such a specialist, there are more general questions concerning credit lines and business plans, plus the very sensitive problem discussed in the first letter below.
My mail-order business sells laptop and notebook computers and peripherals. As a minority, I try to give my employees, most of whom are also minorities, the break they need. And I reward them all, regardless of position, with commissions for every order they take over the phone. But I'm afraid we may be losing sales because most of our employees have very strong accents and some difficulty with English. Some customers have canceled their orders, saying they cannot do business with vendors "who don't speak English." Yet those same employees happen to be more hardworking, knowledgeable, and efficient than those I hired who had good speaking voices. If I did find the right employee and asked the others to avoid answering the phone, I'm afraid I'd court trouble for my company. Please help.
Manny O. Manapat
Foster City, Calif.
Stuck in Traffic
Our company is starting to market remanufactured classic cars of the '50s and '60s, and we'd like to export cars to Western Europe, Asia, and South America. We have investigated traditional channels -- the Department of Commerce, world-trade centers -- but progress has been slow. Can anyone recommend alternatives?
Carey M. Berg
Where Credit's Due
My home-furnishings store has been open for 16 months and showed a profit in its first year. I have an excellent credit record and a good relationship with my bank. Still, I can't get good credit lines. I have one line of credit with a factor because the manufacturer agreed to work on recourse, but most refuse to do that. Another manufacturer asked for a letter of credit from my bank, but the bank says I have too little equity. Any ideas?
How do I locate U.S. companies that are outsourcing? We're a small, nonprofit rehabilitation facility that prepares injured workers to return to their jobs. As part of our program, we run a factory for recuperating workers. We're trying to find companies that outsource packaging, mailing, shrink-wrapping, drill-bit sharpening, and so on.
Sales and Marketing
Betty Jane Memorial
A Man Without a Plan
Can anyone recommend a good book or pamphlet on writing a business plan?