FOLLOWING management trends in the United States and Europe, South African companies have been so busy unbundling, downsizing, re-engineering and restructuring that they've forgotten the real reason they're in business.

This is to find out what customers want and to give it to them where, when and how they want it at a price they can afford.

Nobody knows this better than foreign business people sitting with the bitter fruits of over-production in saturated domestic markets. To them, the elimination of sanctions, the fall of punitive import tariffs and a receptive and growing market, make South Africa appear to be the answer to a prayer.

So, as you trim your overheads to cut operating costs and pare your staff complement by eliminating levels in your corporate hierarchy, don't go overboard. Slimming without respite can lead to anorexia, a potentially fatal condition.

Anorexic companies will be too weak to defend themselves. It takes energy and resources always to give customers the right product at the right time in the right place at the right price. It takes even more energy and resources to top up the package with World Class Customer Service.

Product, time, place, price and World Class Customer Service form a combination that's difficult to beat. Many foreign-based raiders will quickly retreat when they come up against this sort of defence strategy.

There is, of course, another effective defence strategy.


Carry the fight into your enemy's territory. Threaten his market share. But that's another book.


  Authors Note
1. Protection Gets the Bullet
2. Perceive the Threat
3. Define the 'Get In' Strategy
4. A Quick Backward Glance-1
5. The Importance of Pricing
6. Vital Ingredients: Products and Productivity
7. Customer Service: On the Backburner
8. A Quick Backward Glance-2
9. Preventative Strategies: Price and Service Quality
10. Preventative Strategies: The Ramparts of Distribution
11. Preventative Strategies: Management - to restructure?
12. Preventative Strategies: Market Aggressively to Win
13. A Quick Backward Glance-3
14. In Conclusion
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