Improving Profits at Kinky Boots Co
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The present paper discusses the actual needs for developing the kinky boots company, here the innovations and ideas of the 4th generation Steve Pateman's Kinky Boots story based on the WJ Brooks of Earls Barton's family business. The kinky boots company previously known as W J Brooks and Co is a shoemaking firm in the village of Earls Barton, near Northampton. This company has been making shoes for over 100 years. It was founded in the year 1889 with 80 people but in the meanwhile due to economic (cheap) foreign imports, and the strong pound value, sales have been collapsed and the company lost money. They used to pay the money but had no work for the employees (David Gritten, 2005). In the year 1998 the work force was almost halved and Steve felt heavy responsibility for the remaining 30 people and so he has taken his drastic steps towards his family business. The desperate and reluctant owner inspired by an outrageous drag queen to change his product to fetish footwear for transvestites. The present paper mainly discuss about the analysis made on which strategy will yield better profits for the kinky boots company.
For a new emerging organization which is of exposed firm, fluid units retrain comparatively employees and few managers as well as non-central functions contracted exterior to the organization. Such a rising organizations will be definitely focus on improving their significant competencies as well as designing techniques and innovative process which are considered as a part of the organization with the exception from its competition. Further the growth in the manufacturing industry has been motivated by improvement in technology and degree of difference in wage scales. These areas have made the organizations like kinky boots consider them as an element of the incorporated global economy.
Organization has to address (solve) some organizational issues to operate organization effectively. There are four target issues to be focused to solve the problems associated with the kinky boots.
Strategic issues: The organizations have to decide what services or products they will provide in the markets and in which they will compete as well as how to relate (or communicate) with their environment and how to transform them to keep pace with changing conditions. These issues are crucial among the various organizations in today's changing and highly competitive market environments (Thomas& Christopher, 2008).
Structural and technological issues: organizations have to make proper decisions on dividing the work into departments and proper guidance to the coordination among the departments to give support for the strategic directions. They should also make some suggestions on how to deliver their services and products to link customers to the tasks.
Human process issues: These particular issues will deal with the social processes taking place among the organizational members. These issues may include decision making, communications, group dynamics and leadership etc.
HR (Human Resource) issues: These HR issues are concerned with the attracting the competent (or capable) people to the organization including rewarding and appraising their performance levels, setting goals for them and ensuring that they manage stress and develop their careers to achieve success (Thomas& Christopher, 2008).
1. Strategic changes:
These strategic interventions will alter the internal functioning of the industry to the larger environment and converts the firm to keep pace with the changing competitive conditions. These changing conditions should be brought to the industry to achieve a fit between the business strategies.
Integrated strategic change: it describes about the changing plans required to make a value added contributions to the strategic management. This strategic change also argues that the organizational system and the business strategies should be changed together in response to internal and external interruptions. The best strategic change plan may help the team workers/ members to transition between the organization design and the current strategy towards the strategic directions.
Organization learning and KM (knowledge management): organization learning will explore the organization capacity to develop and to acquire the new knowledge. Whereas the knowledge management evolutes how knowledge can be used and organized to develop the performance of an organization. These strategies will solve the existing problems to become capable of maintaining the improvement.
2. Techno structural changes:
The changes could be done based on the technology (ex: job design, task methods) and the structure (ex: hierarchy, division of the labor). These changing methods will spread its lights on current concern on organization effectiveness and productivity.
This changing process deals with the firms division of labor and the traditional ways to divide the organizational overall work in between the appropriate organizational structures, conditions and technologies.
This approach will minimize the number of the employees to reduce the costs and bureaucracy through outsourcing, redesign and personal layoffs. Each and every method for this downsizing should be planned with the clear estimations and understandings of the organization strategies.
Reengineering: This recent phenomenon redesigns the organization core work procedures to create best coordination among the various tasks. This process of workflow will yield more responsive task with higher performance. It is also accomplished with the new IT (information technology) that allows employees to coordinate and control the work process more effectively.
3. HR management changes:
These changes may include employee selection, placements, career developments, performance appraisals; focus on people in organization for incorporating the employees into an organization.
Goal setting: this approach involves with the setting challenging and clear goals to develop business efficiency by setting up the best fit in between the organizational and personal objectives. To inculcate this change process the subordinates and the managers should make certain plans to solve the existing problem in achieving the organization success.
Performance appraisal: This is the primary human resource management for the performance feedback to evaluate individuals or workgroups with the systematic approach of assessing the work related achievements, weakness and strengths of an employee.
Reward systems: This process of reward system will enhance the employee performance and satisfaction. It may include promotions, incentives, fringe benefits etc.
4. Human process changes:
Human process changes particularly deals with the group decisions, problem solving, leadership qualities and communication. These sorts of approaches should be applied in an organization to expect the enhanced functioning of the people and organization process.
It assists the group members to analyze the appropriate solutions to solve the problems associated with the organization. Problems may include poor communication, dysfunctional conflicts and ineffective norms. It also helps the team members to acquire the knowledge and skills to process the problems.
Third party interventions:
This intervention changes may come from substantive issues like interpersonal issues (miscommunication), disputes over the work etc. hence the third party may interrupt and helps them to resolve their problems through probing, conciliation and by bargaining.
Team building: This team building may include strategies and member roles for performing tasks. In addition to this inter group relations, large group interventions and organization confrontation meetings will also address the problems.
Manufacturing organizational issues:
According to the Skinner (1969), the manufacturing strategy issues should pay its attention towards the operations, productions and even in the strategic management fields. Schroeder et al., (1986) have given their definitions on manufacturing strategy as a long-standing plan of manufacturing function to go with the overall strategy of the firm. Some other studies considered that the manufacturing strategy as diversify perspectives of strategic planning. Sweeney (1991) treated manufacturing strategy as a specific field of strategic management. However, Cerwin (1993) summarized that the defined manufacturing strategy and diversify disciplines as a decision-making procedure whereby an organization can lead its mechanized activities based on a strategic perspective. Hence the manufacturing (production) strategy has become an innovative topic in the strategic management field.
Khandwalla (1974), in his research on the 79 American manufacturing companies originated that the most profitable firms are those which adjusted their structures according to their mass output orientation of the technology.
According to Adam et al., (1989), the main 4 priorities for the manufacturing organizations are flexibility, reliability, cost and quality. These are the key elements for the manufacturing strategy with the four types namely Marketer, care taker, Reorganizer and innovator.
Marketer: this strategy has to mainly focus on the customer needs and their satisfaction about the product produced.
Caretaker: it includes employee efforts and hard work to decrease the manufacturing costs.
Reorganizer: this strategy mainly concerns with the rethinking capability to fit their manufacturing strategy with the present market environment.
Innovator: this aspect deals with enhancement of employee or authority to improve their technological capacity to innovate their new products into the competitive environment.
W J Brooks and Co current situation:
The Kinky Boot Factory by the Richard manufactures the Divine varieties of erotic shoes for both Women and Men. This shoe company has been manufacturing the best and high quality products for the four generation in Northampton. In the year 1642, records illustrate that the Northampton's staple industry made 600 boots, 4000 shoes for the army and further it continued to Oliver Cromwell's army in the year 1648. Later in the year 1831 a third of all the men in the Northampton (England) were shoe makers which are mostly home workers. Aftermath commercial shoe manufactures were started with receiving finished shoes, and with packages and dispatches to the stores (Robin Wood, 2009).
Later the kinky boots is based on the family shoe business with 4th generation managing director Steve Pateman founded in the year 1889. Steve employed about 80 people. He had very well known most of his employers since Steve Pateman began efforts on its factory floor as a 17-year-old school-leaver. Steve continued to manufacture quality men's brogues but suddenly like all the Northampton shoe production were in terrible straights due to heavy competition from strong pound hitting the export market and cheap imports. By the end of the year 1998, Steve had been enforced to cut his staff from 80 to 30 people but they were still in a struggling position. In addition to this problem he also faced another problem, rival boots and shoes from China (Eastern Europe) manufactured “with little craftsmanship, but at a fraction of his labor costs” (David Gritten, 2005, p.1).
A visit to kinky boots largest customers exposed that its “traditional market had been taken over by cheaper, lower quality, imported shoes” (Jim Stewart, 2010, p.1).
Gloomily Steve maintained the reduced workforce but then suddenly one phone call changed his life. In Folkestone, there was a shop containing boots and sexy lingerie, which is run by a lady. The boots are the favorites for cross dressers and drag queens, which are made thigh-high, colored red or black leather or PVC and the shoes should be of women with men's sizes. Pateman recalled past as they did a lot of high heals as well as Beatle boots; for that he purchased a machine worth £12,000 which helps to put a 4 1/2 inch heal (David Gritten, 2005).
Sensing that there might be a productive niche market, Steve explore his potential customer base and created own designs. The main problem raised with other manufacturers were, they simply manufactured bigger size shoes to fit for the men. Based on the customer voices Steve simply made boots and shoes wide enough to men. Initially the interest of the customers as well as sales was good and hence Pateman determined to turn his entire shoe factory into manufacturing this particular specialized fetish footwear. From this point of time, W J Brooks would be well known for the Kinky Boot Factory. This peculiar smart move in the business changed the entire firm and kept the shoe factory workers employed (David Gritten, 2005).
Analysis on the issues faced by kinky boots:
This kinky boots company gives best example of how to develop a winning marketing strategy. The problems faced by the company are the fast changing and demanding world in which we operate. For example: attaining the best quality standards is different from “traditional business demands more of workers than has ever been done in the past” (Jim Stewart, 2010, p.1).
From the above literature kinky boots faced technological and structural issues, human resource issues, strategic issues and human process issues.
Technological and structural issues: Kinky boots downsized the employees working in the manufacturing unit from 80-30 people to cut back their costs.
Human resource management issues: the effective management and leadership qualities and good decision making strategies for the organization change made to learn the importance of the competencies required to lead the organization to achieve its aims and objectives.
Strategic issues: the drastic integrated strategic change from the management of kinky boots described, how planned change could make a best value added contribution to strategic management. This issue also illustrates about the organization learning (capability to develop a new knowledge) and knowledge management (application of the knowledge to improve organization productivity).
Human process issue: kinky boots did not face any disputes in between the employees but the change process and innovation from the Steve improved the functioning of the people and organizational processes.
Nowadays there is a drastic change in the business and economic environment, by which the firms are forced to be innovative in the way they perform their business and to fail or learn more. The key factors for the firms for their survival are Innovation and innovativeness. Relationships between Research and Development, marketing activities and a firm's manufacturing strategy are made as the part of organization strategy, in order to examine the innovation-related issues by linking them with the firms. The innovation issues from the point of organizational perspectives have been clarified recently. For example, as per Senge (1990), one of the best ways to create competitive advantages is to build an organization which is based on continuous learning and enhancement. According to him, many aspects of an organization including, which includes even the manufacturing activities are also influenced by organizational learning. Some of the organizational factors like organizational structure, scale, and member of organizations are related to manufacturing strategy by Adam et al., (1989).
Kinky boots paid its attention towards the marketing activities by knowing the customer requirements and based on that he selected their manufacturing strategy and relatively it also focused on the development activities through innovation.
Pateman first taste of fame was from the BBC2 series which made a documentary about his foray into the world of kinky boots. It nearly attracted 4.3 million viewers and was repeated and publicized world-wide (BBC, 2000).
Nowadays kinky boots is well known for many countries and different countries are showing their interest especially in Steve's product. Here the major problem he faced was getting the order of the sales so he prepared a mail-order catalogues to get the order of the samples into massive sales. Hence he could sell kinky boots directly to the customers.
Support of Information Systems to improve the organization's future strategy:
Presently kinky boots is depending on their exclusive technical expertise with strong heel design and dramatic change in the manufacturing thought of kinky boots successfully created a new niche market by saving the Steve's factory and the jobs of the employees. The company created out unique capabilities and the real strength in materials knowledge rather than their efficiently and ability to operate sewing machines (Paul Calver, 2009).
The major growth in the current economy is coming from the “information” industry. The success of the firms like kinky boots (knowledge based organizations) depends on the IS (Information systems). This IS requisite globalization of the market and some technological changes. Hence many of the manufacturing industries are placing their importance on the information systems. However this information system is playing a pivot role in the information and communication technologies in meeting the firm's information needs (international graduate, 2010).
According to Kroenke, D M. (2008), this information system is a combination of people's activity and information technology using the management, support operations and decision making. This term is broadly used to refer data and technology, people, process, and it also focus on the way in which people (employee) interact with this technology in support of business processes.
Information systems may be unsuccessful for a number of reasons. Some of the failure reasons of the information systems of the organization include complexity, communication, organization, leadership and technology. Failure can be summarized in four major categories: project management shortcomings, technical shortcomings, continuing information explosion and the organizational issues. Change management is the process of supporting different organizations as well as individuals in passing from an “old way of doing things to a new way of doing things” (Int J Med Inform, 2003, p.1). This sort of Change management created its innovations early in a technical process, and it necessitate for making major alteration starts at the conceptual level.
The result of many corporate decisions is that the shoes tend to be more expensive than its competitors. To offset this pricing difference, New Balance differentiates should be included in their products with blend of gel inserts, technical innovations, heel counters, and the best selection of sizes, particularly for very narrow and/or very wide widths.
Kinky Boots Company should launch the internet based order systems rather than mail catalogues. It would be the better option to globalize their market with the secured password site. This new order system should be available for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The management simply has to have a Personal Computer or laptop with the Internet access with Internet Explorer 3.0 (or above) version or Netscape and AOL 3.0 (or above).
Kinky boots can also continue its growth by following the latest designs to make ordering footwear from the different company's major women's brands than ever before.
For the good profits the kinky boots company can also engage in the provision of various branded, private-label casual, licensed, athletic, and dress footwear products to men, women and children.
It can be said that for an organization like kinky boots that using the information systems as a routine and commodity, the auxiliary functionalities are better managed by employing the skilled and shoe designers. Such a practice has always offered a positive result with enhanced performances, time saving and returning cost cutting in their activities because of having a combination of inadequate proficiency and considering the related costs (DiRomualdo, A., & Gurbaxani, V. 1998). As mentioned in the literature, it is true that for a newly emerging organization like kinky boots has to be exposed and as it contains newly employed graduates and small skilled team and the organization has to get contracted with other exterior organizations. Acting as a virtual company, kinky boots has to concentrate on how to improve its competitive edge. In these conditions practicing innovation and innovativeness is one among the competitive factor of the company, since growth in the local market will motivate the company to enhance its information systems along with the differential incoming scales. Such a footstep will make the business to believe them as a part of the global economy (Mullin, R. 1996). Hence inventing new designs for manufacturing, good decision making process and leadership qualities in an organization will definitely assist the business to enhance in all aspects (local market as well as in the global market).
Kinky boots can also find its niche both in the local market as well as in overseas. For the globalization the kinky boots company should search for the vendor with same culture and values since will set up common interest and mutual understanding to make a successful relationship but this practice may not be possible all times because of the cost cutting and availability of employees over options based on the connections of culture (Gurung, A., & Prater, E. 2006). However, globalization is required for development of this kinky boots company as in the past they were not able to handle both work and life. So Patemen decided to downsize his employees and starts the work but as it is concerned with the financial aspect he went for globalizing the company requires both employers as well as machinery for the stitching.
There are also some benefits in globalizing the industry for its development. The main benefits for globalizing are as follows. The coordination and control of the marketing and promotional programs must be simplified. The kinky boots company initially has to concentrate on marketing for making expanding the business in UK. Exploring the great ideas, innovations for expansion in worldwide can result minimizing the planning and control cost for advertising. Globalization saves their money as well as the cost for advertising will be reduced. For making the company universal it must have good company image and brand name.
Importance of value chain for the kinky boots:
Kinky boots may get a good position in the market place by establishing a market based cost structure. Many manufacturing units will look at their products or final deliverable services but they are failing to notice real opportunities which could be a unique or strengthen capabilities embedded within their business processes, knowledge base or value chain. Recognizing these strengths is an important task while looking at the local market in terms of protecting the business position in the market. (IFM) The Cambridge University Institute for Manufacturing has developed different tools to assist companies in identifying the manufacturing opportunities in the manufacturing value chain. This report also suggests that the total value chain has to be considered while proposing the business. According to the Paul Calver, (2009), many of the UK companies considered this to increase their global competitiveness and they are also following the PETS approach Purchase, Establish Then Sell for their market entry. Hence the organization like kinky boots should follow the PETS approach as well as the tools from IFM to minimize its costs and to make progress on the productivity improvement tools.
IP protection plan (intellectual property)
This protection plan will give the business a real strength to create new opportunities and the new directions for the business. One of the main uncertainties of the companies emerging into the new markets will generally lose their IP. Hence the manufacturing business like kinky boots should support the improvement of IP protection plans to be taken as a part of their market entry strategy.
According to the above literature and analysis of the organizational issues of kinky boots, researcher found that those people are willing to change as per the requirements of the industry. Where as the issues they are facing are regarding high production cost due to pound value hitting export chances and cheap imported products from the global market. To overcome the above specified obstacles, they have to optimally utilize the man power and the resources where as to increase the productivity of the company. The kinky boots people should minimize the wastage of the goods at the time of production. They should make various sizes of kinky boots in order to reduce the wastage for men and women. By this, they will produce maximum merchandise with minimum production cost. They should use the Information systems (IS) in an organized way; in such a way that the product publicity should reach the targeted customers with less cost. They should employ a team of innovative people in order to design and produce new model shoes in such a way that they are affordable to the common people. Another responsibility of the innovative team should be designing high end shoes targeting right people, who care more about the design and quality but not about money. For every new model of shoes they made, they should have patent rights, which will help the company a lot. They should collect information from the public regarding the expectations of the people, feedback of their products from time to time. They need to consider all these issues in releasing the new model of shoes. They need to be globally competent i.e. they should think of expanding their business as they are well-known for kinky boots. They should use the foot wear exhibitions, expos for this purpose. Another aspect they need to think of is their marketing strategies. The marketing strategy should be in such a way that should increase the sales in an organized manner. They need to think of directly selling to customers by opening outlets. By that they can sell customers to a reduced price which will enhance the sales of the company.
Kinky boots is the shoe making business firm run by a family's fourth generation, which is formerly known as W J Brooks and Co. Steve Pateman is the present owner of the firm, 4th generation successor of the family of WJ Brooks. He worked in the firm from the age of 17 years as a school-leaver. He had good relations with the 80 people working for the company. Due to the less export orders hit by pound value and cheap global imports, he downsized his employees to 30. Once the phone call from a lady shop owner in Folkestone changed his life by placing orders for the kinky boots, a high heal shoes with men sizes. By that he completely changed as per the situation and made kinky boots as his firm's key product. The present paper analyzed the organizational issues in detail for choosing a better strategy for the existing company. Distinguishing these strategies for the survival, expansion and growth of the company different strategies are required and recommended. It necessitate to employee a new team of innovative people by which the company's productivity will be enhanced.
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