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To successfully complete this assignment i have chosen National Express company to use in my case study. I have chosen this particular company
National Express is the largest scheduled coach service provider in Europe. In the UK distinctive white National Express coaches operate to more than 1,000 destinations and carry over 17 million customers a year. The Euro lines coaches additionally operate to over 500 destinations within Europe and Ireland. National Express coach services also serve the major UK airports with additional dedicated ‘on-airport’ coach and bus services operated by Airlinks who are based at Gatwick. They also provide a Hotel Hoppa service, which links major hotels at both Heathrow and Gatwick to the airport terminals. Other dedicated airport operations help to serve British Airports Authority (BAA) and the wider airline community at these increasingly busy locations. National Express Ltd is also part of a leading international transport provider – National Express Group (NEG), which itself has over 45,000 employees. In addition to train and bus companies within the UK including Gatwick Express, one, Midland Mainline and Travel West Midlands their overseas operations include student transportation and public transit in the USA & Canada, the management of Stewart International Airport near New York and bus and coach operations in Spain operated by Alsa. In total the National Express Group now carry over 1 billion passengers a year
A BRIEF HISTORY OF NATIONAL EXPRESS
The distinctive white coaches of National Express are a familiar site on the UK roads, and they represent a proud heritage of public transport that now goes back well over a hundred years. Horsedrawn stagecoaches were undoubtedly the forerunners of todays long distance coach network, but it was not until after the first World War, and the introduction of motorbuses, that express coach services really came into their own. These were initially operated by independent companies with differing company names who later came together to form a loose network of nationwide services. The formation of the National Bus Company (NBC) in 1968 brought many of these independent companies together and soon led to a more co-ordinated policy of express coach planning. This resulted in a ‘National’ branding of such services during 1972 and the introduction of a new and distinctive ‘all white’ livery for vehicles was quickly adopted. A new brand name of ‘National Express’ first appeared on publicity during 1974 and was then introduced onto vehicles during 1978.
The introduction of a new Transport Act during the early 80’s meant that National Express faced strong competition on many of it’s most popular routes, especially on those to/from London. Totally without subsidy, and by introducing new services and lower fares the ‘coach war’ actually gave National Express a major publicity boost and its customer numbers quickly increased. The de-regulation of the NBC led to a management buy-out of National Express and a new company called National Express Holdings Ltd was formed on 17 March 1988. Over the next few years the new company quickly began acquiring other bus and coach businesses in the UK and eventually grew to become the National Express Group (NEG) during 1991 which was then eventually floated on the London Stock Market in December 1992. During the 1990’s, and working within the NEG, National Express coaches continued to expand it’s business base with the acquisition of both European and UK coach services – especially those serving the UK airports. This growth in route development was also matched with the opening of the UK’s first purpose-built coach stations at Liverpool, Leeds, Southampton. As National Express entered a new Millennium it was clear that technology was going to play an increasingly important role. Over the past few years improvements to ticketing technology, booking procedures, call centre access and most importantly websites have all played an important part in providing even easier access for customers. On 03/03/03 National Express launched a new look to the business with the introduction of a new National Express logo and ‘smile’ that helps to reflect our new single business identity for our UK coaching operations. European services continue to operate within the Eurolines network and a new business called ‘Airlinks’ has been set up to look after ‘on-airport’ services at Heathrow and Gatwick. With such an exciting history behind us National Express is a business that is looking forward to the future with eager anticipation.
(b) ‘Strategy’ describes the differentiating activities an organization pursues to gain competitive advantage. www.balancedscorecard.biz, 2007
Strategy is adaptable by nature rather than a rigid set of instructions.
The simplest explanation of this is the analogy of a sports scenario. If a football team were to organise a plan in which the ball is passed in a particular sequence between specifically positioned players, their success is dependent on each of those players both being present at the exact location, and remembering exactly when, from whom and to whom the ball is to be passed; moreover that no interruption to the sequence occurs.
By comparison, if the team were to simplify this plan to a strategy where the ball is passed in the pattern alone, between any of the team, and at any area on the field, then their vulnerability to variables is greatly reduced, and the opportunity to operate in that manner occurs far more often. This manner is a strategy.
In today’s world of industrial market, the competition between the organizations is increasing by the day and along with it, the difficulty of survival. Darwin’s theory of Survival is working best in this pace environment. If the organization is not at its best and don’t evolve according to its surroundings, it will not be possible for organisation to survive the environmental conditions and will lead to your extinction. That’s true, before making it big, one need to survive. One need to know how to thrive in the market. Survival per se takes up lot of effort coupled with intelligence now. And so the big strong companies and even the smaller companies that are cropping up every now and then are coming to realize the significance of Strategic Planning and Implementation.
In a successful company, apart from the administration and the execution development, a different team is hired, leaving alone the important yet underestimated unsung-of pieces. That different team is the research and development team. They are mainly like the well-wishers cum ministers in a king’s court who used to assist the king in making his important day-to-day decisions on his subjects. The research and development team study the market and assists the administrative team in chalking out the company objectives and policies for the smooth execution of the company functions.
(c) How is strategy created at National Express?
(d) In my opinion various models can be used by national express to develop their marketing plan. The most appropriate model in my view for national express is AIDA model which is a very famous marketing communication model. Advertising is the main tool in this kind of model. Advertising plays a very important in this model as it creates a great effect on the minds of the consumers. Aida model has two techniques which are widely used in it one is Action, the main aim of it is to spread knowledge about its product and services among the customers. The next step involves is to create interests among the customers by highlighting the features of the products. In my view national express should pay media to bring national express to the attention of consumers by communicating brand, product and promotional messages to persuade, inform and influence customer’s purchasing behaviour and perceptions of National Express in the trade. National express should advertise in national and regional press, trade publications, partner magazines, outdoor billboards and poster sites, at the airport, on a variety of websites, on the radio and sometimes on television. National express aims to develop and deliver campaigns that sponsor product trial and continually reinforce positive perceptions of the brand.
As a part of the management team, it is very important that you understand the various reviewing options open to you and how to apply them in a methodical step-by-step to achieve the best results. Whether you are doing a direct research, which involves interacting with your clients and customers and asking for their direct opinion, or doing an indirect research that involves your checking up the various trade and business journals, the regular economic cash-flow sheets published by the government and other non-government organizations, especially the high-profile venerable business review groups. The company’s previous financial balance sheets and financial charts need to be examined properly for any loops that might have been formed or any overlooked unproductive outcome
Another most important yet inactive piece of the company is the stakeholders. Though these are not a part of the management, they sure play an vital role in the strategic planning and implementation program. Now who are the stakeholders? Stakeholders, in the simplest of words, are the people or organizations that have some interest in the well-being of the company. They have staked something on the performance and success of the business company. They are affected by the company actions and on the other hands, profit from the viability of the goods and services of the company. Now, the stakeholders can be of two types: internal and external. The internal stakeholders are the employees, administrative heads, company owners, managers, etc. They are involved in the processes of the company and the company’s actions have a direct effect on them. We can see it from the Silicon Valley accident or the layoffs in the customer support sector of the airlines sector. And the external stakeholders are the shareholders, the creditors, the government, the society, the suppliers, the customers, etc. Each has a different interest in the welfare of the company and it can be seen in the figure below:
Examples of interests
Profit, Performance, Direction
Taxation, VAT, Legislation, Low unemployment
Senior Management staff
Performance, Targets, Growth
Rates of pay, Job security
Working conditions, Minimum wage, Legal requirements
Value, Quality, Customer Care, Ethical products
Credit score, New contracts, Liquidity
Jobs, Involvement, Environmental issues, Shares
So starting from the suppliers to the customers, the government to the society, the creditors to the shareholders, the owner to the laborers, everyone has an interest in the company.
Now, it is easily noticeable that a company’s survival depends a lot on these stakeholders. Whatever role they fill in the daily functioning, all of them, when congregated together, result into the overall market productivity and recognition of the company. So, keeping them interested in the company is of utmost importance. If they lose their interest in the company, it is eventually a loss to the company. And for these reason, staying attractive to the stakeholders is one of the main priorities of the management. But how can one stay attractive to someone? By being of benefit or value to himâ€¦ It is as simple as that. If you look at the biggest and most profiting companies in the world like the IBM, Microsoft, McDonalds, Subway, etc, you would find one simple thing. They are caring to everyone! They look to the best interests of everyone associated with them. They are as thoughtful about Tom, the electrician as about their recent well-established business partner. They make sure that all of the people working directly or indirectly with them are at least getting some value from them and this makes them the top notch of the companies worldwide.
And one of the best ways to do that is to get them to participate into the whole process. Getting their participation and feedback on the different programs already running or the projects that you are going to launch, you would create a sense of bond as well as be using a readymade sample survey group for research. They would feel themselves to be a part of the company and thus, they would further endeavour to make it a success. A sense of responsibility and commitment would give rise to dedication towards the company, which is so important in determining the overall efficiency and coordination of the company. Working environment is one of the most important things that dictate the productivity of a company. According to survey reports, motivated employees are most likely to be more productive than rather unmotivated employees are.
Engaging with the different groups that influence or are affected by our business is fundamental to our values. Understanding our stakeholders’ needs and concerns also helps identify the relevant CR issues and enables us to plan our CR programme accordingly.
We have a wide range of stakeholders with many different needs and expectations, and these sometimes conflict. We can’t be all things to all people, but we can assure all stakeholders that we have listened to them and taken their views into account when balancing different considerations.
Customer Question Time (CQT) meetings help to identify and respond to changing customer needs. They are recognised as a key factor in success in recent years. These meetings, held in stores around the world, enable staff and senior managers to hear customers’ views on everything from how we are serving them to our role in the community. CQT are used to drive Customer and Community Plans. These Plans are the management tools used to deliver continued improvement in customer satisfaction.
To do a good job for customers, people need to feel good about the place where they work. It is important that staff understand the principles that guide the way we do business and feel proud to work for National Express. As such, it is vital that we listen to and engage with our people as often and as well as we do with customers. Our staff give direct feedback through Staff Question Time sessions. They are also invited to give anonymous feedback through our annual Viewpoint survey. The vast majority of staff enjoyed working for National Express, thought benefits had improved, and thought they had an opportunity to get on.
To play our part in local communities we must listen to what local people are saying. This is particularly important when we are proposing to build new stores. So we distribute leaflets locally, detailing our plans and inviting feedback. We hold public exhibitions so that people can come and talk to us about our plans for a new store. And we talk to local traders about how our stores can attract new customers to the area and improve business for us all. We aim to continue this dialogue once stores are open. We are currently trialling “Community Champions” in 50 stores, whose role is to maintain links with and support local organisations such as charities and schools.
We have regular dialogue with our suppliers and try to develop confident and honest relationships so that concerns can be resolved and we can work together effectively. We also use formal processes to understand suppliers’ views and identify how we can work together better. We carry out an anonymous survey, called Viewpoint, to understand what suppliers think of us and identify areas for improvement across the business.
We maintain a good dialogue with shareholders by organising meetings and presentations and responding to a wide range of enquiries. We want to understand shareholder views on a range of issues from strategy to corporate governance and we recognise the importance of communicating any significant Company developments appropriately. This shareholder communication is mainly coordinated by our Investor Relations team. The Board is kept informed of the views of shareholders, either through direct meetings or through updates from the Investor Relations team. As part of our engagement programme, we meet with representatives of the Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) community and with mainstream investors. These meetings give us the opportunity to provide an update on our corporate responsibility strategy and performance, discuss key opportunities and challenges and seek feedback to improve our future programme.
Government and regulators
National Express is also keen to have an open and honest relationship with political stakeholders, engaging with governments, MPs and officials on a range of policy issues that affect business and the communities in which they operate. We do not make donations to political parties, nor do we employ political consultants to lobby governments on our behalf. Our Government and Corporate Responsibility teams work closely together to ensure that our responses to government consultations are aligned to our CR policies and practices. We do not ask government departments to withhold our submissions from public disclosure
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