Second, the technical-support group handles incoming phone requests. This happens most often when the problem is a minor one that does not cause the failure of an entire system. Anyone, whether a customer or not, can call into the technical-support group directly and request some technical assistance or a “phone fix” at no charge. Compufix is proud of the fact that many Microsoft employees call the company with technical questions about computer equipment, even though Microsoft isn’t currently a client of the company. According to one employee in technical support, “this kind of inquiry proves that we are held in high regard.
John Hiser would like to improve the efficiency of technical support. In his words,
We have good people working there-actually some of the best technicians in the company-but the phone system is the pits. As an experiment, I recently tried to call in. It took me three tries to get an open line, and then I was put on hold for ten minutes. We have had some problems with excessive turnover of personnel in technical support. Morale seems to be low. I think the nine people we have there are just overloaded.
The lab is responsible for fixing defective equipment or parts that cannot be fixed on-site by a field engineer. The repaired parts are stored in a large depot next to the lab. Under the direction of its new manager, Doug White, the lab/depot has undergone some major changes in its operations. Doug white is another ex-Navy man. He started out as a field engineer, then moved into technical support, and was appointed to his current position in early 1995.For a time, Compufix’s lab performed warranty work on a wide range of OEM provider for work performed. Following Doug’s suggestion, Compufix has started to get out of the warranty business since it has proved to be very unprofitable. Originally, Compufix took on warranty business as a means of forming alliances. These alliances have not proved profitable of have not materialized.
The three main client service areas in Compufix are the field engineers, technical support, and the lab/depot services. The field engineers go out to the clients and actually repair the equipment or solve the problem. If the situation warrants it, a defective part or piece of equipment is removed and sent to the lab for repair. In order to minimize the customer’s downtime, defective parts are replaced by a rebuilt part from the lab’s inventory. The defective part is then repaired by the lab and stored in the depot for future use. Often, the client will not even have the field engineer come on site but just send the defective part to the lab for a replacement. Compufix generates substantial savings in its ability to repair and recycle used parts for its maintenance service. John Hiser estimates that the percentage of first-time fixes by the field engineers are about 45 to 50 percent. The major hindrance to fixing a problem in the field is not having the proper part in the field engineer’s hand.
Technical support is the information hub of Compufix and serves a dual purpose. First, it is an on-call reference service for all the field engineers. If field engineers run into a situation that is unfamiliar, they call the technical-support group, which has an extensive manual library and direct lines to all the major equipment manufacturers. The technical support group is most often staffed by former field engineers who add their own expertise to aiding the field engineers. John calls technical support the point of escalation for field support since technical-support people, formerly the best field engineers, will go on site if needed.5 個解答語言1 0 年前
Compufix's typical customer is a Fortune 1000 company with technically complex computer systems and problems. Some are business partners. such as IBM and Hewlett Packard. (Compufix has been able to establish subcontractor relationships with a number of large OEM organizations by agreeing to handle all the small, low-end, or problem maintenance that they don’t want.) Others are exclusive relationships, for instance, Intermec and Tektronix. Customers are concentrated in the northwest region of the country, with 75 percent of them in the greater Seattle area. (Compufix does have a small regional office in Portland.)
Of Compufix's current customer base, Boeing's business makes up approximately 74 percent of the company's revenues. The top-five revenue-producing contracts, including Boeing, account for 84 percent of Compufix’s revenues. In total, Compufix has about 200 contract clients and about 300 time-and-materials customers. The time-and-materials customers are nocontract customers who want a fix-it-when-it-breaks service and consistently demand Fedex service at post office rates. Compufix initially went after and has held onto a number of these smaller clients because, according to sales manager Steve Grab, you “never know how they will develop.”Compufix is now trying to get out of the time-and-materials business.Jerry Smiles has apparently decided that these clients are not worth serving.
Compufix's low prices are the initial attraction for its customers. In Harry's view, however, while price may make the sale, it is the quality of service and the responsiveness to customers that keeps the clients. The customers appreciate the ability behind a one-stop shop for all technical support-Harry's idea works!
OEMs and TPM companies are adopting information systems that enable them to become more efficient at controlling their operations and serving customers.
Both OMEs and TPM organizations are focusing upon what they do best and outsourcing some of their service needs to other providers. They are acting as prime contractors and then outsourcing parts of the contract they don’t want to other vendors such as Compufix.
More generally, there has been a notable in crease in the intensity of competition among repair and maintenance providers. Increased competition has resulted in declining profit margins and growth rates in the industry, providers. Increased competition has resulted in declining profit margins and growth rates in the industry, particularly for the TPM companies. The decline of profitability and the in-creased need for capital investment to keep market share has forced many organizations to examine the viability of their activity in this industry.
HISTORY OF COMPUFIX, INC.
Harry Jones moved to the Seattle area in 1981 to take on the new position of regional manager for a national computer leasing company.
During his tenure, Harry set up a repair lab for the regional office. As timeprogressed and the lab became more established, the demand for its repair and depot services increased dramatically.
When Harry couldn't sell his existing employer on the idea of going into the computer repair and service industry, he decided to branch out on his own. He started Compufix in December 1985 with four employees and major funding from his brother-in-law, a California-based venture capitalist who also serves as the chairman of Compufix's board of directors. Operating initially as an independent off-site computer repair facility, Compufix quickly expanded its capabilities to include on-site repair. Today, Compufix's mission is "to solve the technically and administratively complex computer hardware, repair, maintenance and support needs for companies located in the Pacific Northwest."The primary business is to provide comprehensive repair maintenance and support service to the information-processing industry. Compufix is a service provider only, mostly for microcomputer hardware (primarily personal computers and workstations)and related peripherals(for example, printers and network equipment).Many of Compufix's clients rely on the company to fix problems that occur in mission-critical computer equipment where downtime for the client is very expensive. For example, the spare part distribution center of the Boeing Corporation, which pledges to get spare parts to an airline customer anywhere in the world within twenty-four hours, contracts out the repair and maintenance of its computer equipment to Compufix.2 個解答語言1 0 年前
It is Harry's strong belief that trust and loyalty within the entire staff will naturally lead to exceptional work.
It was Harry Jones’s problem-solving proficiency with the computer-leasing company that initially helped land Boeing as a customer. Boeing took a chance with Compufix-and Harry in particular-giving the fledgling company the opportunity to repair some equipment that no one else could or would even touch. Building on its early success at meeting Boeing’s unique repair challenges, Compufix now has maintenance contracts on both generic and customized computers at Boeing. Since its firs contract, Compufix has repeatedly repaired apparently unsalvageable equipment for Boeing, saving the aerospace company roughly $5 million a year in maintenance and administrative costs.
Becoming a subcontractor for Boeing was the crucial break that Compufix needed to establish itself in the computer-maintenance industry. Via this connection, Compufix was and is invited to bid on numerous government contracts, both as independent provider and as an approved federal subcontractor. As of January of 1996, Compufix has never had to hunt down contract bids proactively. Potential clients have come to Compufix via referrals from Boeing and other satisfied customers.2 個解答語言1 0 年前
Harry sees Compufix as a company that is able to provide its customers with a “one stop shop” for computer hardware problems and “quick response.” Compufix focuses upon fixing technology(for example, laser printers),as opposed to fixing the products of certain manufacturers(for example, Hewlett Packard laser printers),and fixing it quickly(that is,within four hours).According to Harry, this competency differentiates Compufix from the service operations of original equipment manufacturers such as IBM, Hewlett Packard, Compaq, and DEC, all of whom presumably have a competency in fixing the equipment they produced but are less skilled at fixing the equipment of other manufacturers and may not be as Compufix.
Harry developed a number of fundamental business principles that have been crucial in guiding the development of Compufix. First, Compufix pledges never to let the customer down and to always “walk the talk.” Second, consistent with this philosophy, Compufix promises important customers that four hours will be the maximum downtime they will have to suffer as a result of equipment failure. If an equipment problem cannot be fixed on-site by a Compufix field engineer, Compufix will replace the malfunctioning part or machine with a backup from its own supplies, ship the malfunctioning item to its own repair depot, and fix the problem there. Third, Compufix also pledges to its customers to have any part necessary, anywhere in the world, within twenty-four hours. Fulfilling these promises requires Compufix to hold an extensive inventory of parts and equipment. Fourth, Compufix makes a concerted effort never to get involved with any political issues involving its clients. Fifth, Harry has also pledged to keep the lines of communication open at all times with his employees. To avoid the spread of rumors, he and his management staff hold regular all-employee meetings.
In January 1996 Jerry was brought in by the board of directors as chief executive officer (CEO) to see whether he could turn the company around. Jerry was a former management consultant who had once run a division of a Fortune 500 company. Jerry had been told by the board that
Compufix's financial situation was deteriorating, although the company's
president and principal stockholder, Harry Jones, was holds 51 percent of
Compufix's stock, stepped aside from the CEO position when Jerry arrived. Compufix had always had positive profits, and its book of business had grown consistently since the company first commenced operating in 1985(see Table 1).In Harry's view, given these two positive trend, how could Compufix's financial situation be anything other than solid? True, there were some problems with overstaffing in 1995,but Compufix had still made $128,000 in operating income last year and the overstaffing problems had recently been solved through layoffs and attrition.
Nonetheless, within six months of his arrival Jerry had found a number of ongoing problems that contributed to Compufix's recent financial weakness, but no clear diagnosis. In Jerry's best estimation, the company had grown too fast. It was started in 1985 with 4 employees and had grown rapidly to reach more than 100 employees and $7,500,000 in sales by 1995.This expansion evolved without any formal strategic plan. Compufix was always eager to attract new customers and would bend over backwards to win business. In the past Compufix just added employees and capabilities because it seemed to be the right thing to do at the time.
This is a disguised case. The names of the company and all key personalities have been changed. The company is the source of all data cited in this case. The case is hased on extensive field research by the authors. This case was prepared by Charles W.L. Hill and Maureen Kibelsted. University of Washington. Used by permission.
This case was prepared by Charles W.L Hill and Maureen Kibelsted of the
School of Business, University of Washington, Seattle.
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Jerry Smiles had an unshakable feeling of foreboding when he first
walked into Compufix's offices and read the mission statement prominently displayed in the lobby. To his mind, it read more like world
organization than the mission statement for a competitive business.
Perhaps this was a clue to solving the task that he had been given.