Perspectives: Costs

Achieving The Low Cost Position
Most people think primarily of physical costs. However, a second, less understood type of cost is more important and holds the key to achieving the true low cost position

Acquisitions: The Buy or Win Decision
Acquisitions are common in hostile market places. To understand why, in those industries, acquisitions make sense consider what hostility means for companies trying to survive to better times.

Buying Share, Not Sand
One practical way to gain significant share during hostility is through acquisitions. But an acquisition will be successful only if it brings a significant base of loyal new customers.

Can We Raise Margins With A Price Increase?
Before a company commits itself to a price increase, it should check marginal costs in the industry and the ability of low cost producers to expand.

The Commoditization of Scale
Scale is a commodity traded every day on the stock exchange. Scale alone no longer guarantees a company an advantage in the market place.

Costs: The Last Consideration
As margins fall and profitability slides, the obvious first response is to cut cost. Knowing why that may be the wrong choice requires an understanding of the difference between effective cost control in hostile and non-hostile markets.

Cutting The Right Cost
When markets turn hostile, managers turn to cost cutting. Reducing cost seems like the most direct route to improving profitability. Often, though, efforts to control costs make the situation worse.

Getting Bigger, Getting Smarter
During hostility, acquisition is a realistic path to achieving, quickly, significant share growth. The full value of the acquisition can be achieved, though, only if reductions in cost occur along with market share growth.

Hostility in a Differentiated Market
A bottle of wine is surely a differentiated product. Nevertheless, the table wine industry underwent the same economic traumas faced by more traditional industries.

If Whitey Ford Ran My Company
A well-managed company succeeds the same way that Whitey Ford won all of those games. Neither a pitcher nor a company can stay in the game long without the basic elements working together.

Is Bigger Really Better?
In the average large industry, the market share leader is only slightly more likely to lead the industry than is any one of the next three competitors in the industry. Market share leaders often fail to become return leaders because they serve some customers who yield low returns and rely on size alone to create economies of scale.

Making Acquisitions Work in Hostile Markets
Strategic acquisitions can help a company through hostility, but the acquisition target must add the right customers to the buyer’s base and reduce unit costs without sacrificing customer service.

Managing Before and After Hostility Starts
Low levels of profitability for most competitors make a hostile industry a tough place to compete.

Must the Cycle Start Again?
Does hostility represent an inevitable cycle at work or can an industry prevent, or at least delay, the return of bad times?

Overcapacity: Threat or Opportunity?
Overcapacity is a problem that occurs in service, as well as manufacturing industries. When it strikes, the problem affects most functions in a company, and astute managements in a wide range of industries have found common formulas to outperform competition in markets with overcapacity.

Rare Mettle: Gold and Silver Strategies to Succeed in Hostile Markets
Managements of winning companies have common themes for success in hostile markets. They each follow five basic themes. While virtually all successful companies are aware of these themes, their implementation differs according to their market position at the onset of hostility.

The Rust Belt Revival
The revival of the U.S. Rust Belt in the late 1980’s holds lessons for companies who would prosper in hostile market places.

Staying Alive in a Hostile Marketplace
A few companies survive and even prosper during periods of hostility. How do these companies avoid being the victims of tough market conditions?

Success Under Fire: Policies to Prosper in Hostile Times
A hostile market evolves through six predictable phases. Most companies fail, withdraw or become acquisitions before this evolution is complete. They fail because their management policies were not effective. The few who survive and prosper do so by making decisions that follow two rules: attract customers and discourage competition. Losers lose by not following the second rule.

The Two Best Consultants in the World
The two best consultants in the world are a company’s customers and its competition. The customer informs a company about the value of its product. The competitor is an authority on the company’s cost. Neither consultant is ever wrong.

Use Subtle Strategy in Tough Markets
A hostile market operates differently than a market with “normal” competitive conditions. But as difficult as a tough market can be, it can also present an astute management team with an unusual opportunity.

What Makes Returns High?
At any point in time, most high returns can be traced to external factors that enable the company to charge high prices. Management really can not claim credit. Long term high returns, however, usually are the result of management efforts to control cost.

What We Do Know Can Hurt Us
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. For the business leader, the very abundance of knowledge poses a danger.

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