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Kimura K.K. Can this customer be saved?
What is value for a customer like Kimura?
Although it is stated that the decision was made based on the fact that Pramtex¶s equipment would minimize the learning and start-up curve, and that it was also important that the equipment was delivered on time, I believe that the true value for a client like Kimura K.K. was customer relationship. Kimura K.K. wanted to feel like it was a special client and that it could trust its partner relying on its suppliers equipment as an important part of the process to manufacture Kimura¶s final product. It can be observed during the development of the case that Kimura K.K. was satisfied with special treatment received by other suppliers, and that it was disappointed with several unprofessionalism of Pramtex team, culminating with the poor assistance after a breakdown . The lack of
professionalism and the untrusted relationship, as it was valued to Kimura K.K., led to a non-rebuy of Pramtex¶s merchandise.
Who are the key players at Kimura in the purchasing decision? What are their respective roles and interests?
The key players at Kimura in the purchasing decision are Mr Kimura, the President of the company and final decision maker ± The decider; Mr Nomura, the Senior R&D advisor and admirer of Spartacus ± The influencer;Dr Komoda, the Chief of production and the one who will be dealing with possible problems of Spartacus ± The User;Mr Hashimoto, the finance dir ector, who is against the acquisition of Pramtex products ± The Buyer; and finally Ms Yamashita who alerted John for his unprofessionalism ± The gatekeeper.
Even though all of the players want what is best for the company, they all have different motivations to achieve that goal. As Finance director Mr Hashimoto is more concerned with reducing the costs of the machines and its maintenance expenses than with its performances. Contrarily, Dr Komoda is exclusively worried about the performance of the machines. For Dr Komoda it is essential that he has time to test the machines before having to deliver the first major project that would be done on Spartacus. It is also crucial that the machines can handle the production of the 15,000 DVDs per day that h e had planned. Although
being an advisor, Dr Nomura has a large responsibility in the final decision since he his a high influence on Mr Kimura. Dr Nomura was an important bridge during the negotiation of the contract, since he was a big admirer of Dr Max Scorse¶s work and classified his machine as being the best in the market. Mr Kimura was the one taking the decision, influenced by the needs of his workers. His final decision took to consideration the minimization of the learning and start-up curve so that its production team could adapt faster to the new machines, and satisfy Kimura K.K.¶s clients.
Why did Pramtex fail in Japan? What could/ should it have done differently?
The lack of professionalism and no special attention to an important client, led Kimura K.K. to see Pramtex as an untrusted partner. Failing the first major contract in Japan passed an image to the Japanese that Pramtex wasn¶t the best partner to be making business.
Although considered by some as being the Rolls Royce of the category, Spartacus wasn¶t convincing enough to Kimura K.K. Since Pramtex was relying on Kimura¶s contract as a reference to get more contracts with the largest companies in Japan, it should have taken more care of it. There were several situations in which Pramtex showed unprofessionalism. One was when John failed to call with the new quotation, other was when there was confusion with the delivery of a payment and the most damaging one was when there was a failure in one of the Spartacus, aggravated by the fact that when the source of the problem was found, Pramtex had no problems shifting the responsibilities to a third party. After having delivered the first three machines, Pramtex was satisfied with its business, and decreased its attention towards the client. When clients like Kimura K.K. work in a tight schedule to achieve their goals, they are looking for partners and nor mere suppliers to help them deliver their final product. The first time that they faced a problem, Pramtex let them down. How can a company that wants to position itself as technology leader, fail to offer adequate maintenance services. In my opinion the problem that occurred with one of Pramtex machines was the main responsible for the company failure in Japan. Not because of the problem itself, but because of the lack of confidence that came with it.
When facing an equipment failure that can¶t be solved by the inside engineers, the production team was expecting the collaboration from Pramtex to be immediate or close to it. The first thing that Pramtex did wrong was to postpone the resolution of the problem to after the weekend. Kimura K.K. couldn¶t afford to loose all this time to fix the problem. The second time that Pramtex didn¶t act accordingly was that it took 4 days to put two technicians on their way to Japan to figure out what was wrong. Coincidently in the same day Kimura¶s Engineers found the possible source of the failure. The third mistake that Pramtex made was when Dr Max Scorse excused the failure of the machine by saying that the problem was in a component that wasn¶t produced by them. Even if not produced by Pramtex it surely made part of Spartacus. The last failure was when Pramtex took three days to find the spare part that was needed. In short, it took Pramtex 8 days, of the tight Kimura K.K. schedule, to solve a breakdown in one of its equipment. With this successive events, it is possible that Kimura K.K. rose the following questions: Do we really need the Rolls Royce if can¶t solve a breakdown quickly? Should we have very sophisticate equipment that can¶t be fixed by our inside engineers? Can we trust Pramtex assistance? What if next time a machine breaks down we are in the middle of the production of an important contract for us, can we wait 8 days? Will it be only 8 days next time? After raising all these questions, I believe Mr Kimura got more concerned in having a reliable equipment that fulfilled its company production needs, and with which its production team could work easily. What Pramtex failed to do with Kimura K.K. was what was essential to Kimura K.K. with Disney ± to win their confidence. After loosing the confidence of Kimura K.K., Pramtex lost the confidence of the Japanese market.
In order not to loose the Japanese market, Pramtex should have focused better in the company that they were relying on to be a reference for the rest of the market. First of all, Pramtex should have tried to understand what were Kimura K.K. truly needs. Pramtex should have invested its time understanding what was value to its client. If it had spend some time studying its client, Pramtex would have understood that Kimura K.K. was concerned with a trustworthy relationship with its suppliers, that Kimura K.K. wanted to feel being taken care off, and that
Kimura K.K. equipment needs were not for the most complete machine, but for one that delivered a specific amount in a determined time, not more nor less. In order to build a trustworthy relationship, Pramtex could have done the following: y Educate its employees to be as most professional as they possibly can; y Provide the best assistance possible; o o Assure that the repairing time is the shortest possible; Have spare parts available, even if they are manufactured by a third party; y Assume responsibility on every component of their offering products;
In order to fulfil Kimura K.K. operational and financial needs, Pramtex could have done the following: y Develop a machine that could be customized only with the specifications needed by the client, not more nor less, thus decreasing its costs;
By failure to satisfy Kimura K.K., Pramtex missed the opportunity to be seen as a trustworthy and competitive choice in the Japanese market.
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