MKTG 3010 MARKETING ASSIGNMENT

ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW

  1. The purpose of this exercise is to help you develop and understand your empirical and quantitative skills, your critical thinking skills, and your business writing skills.
    To those ends, aspects of the exercise tap your abilities in the following areas:

    1. Your ability to discern relevant facts or data.
    2. Your ability to evaluate (process, synthesize, or manipulate) relevant facts or data.
    3. Your ability to deduce conclusions (interpret) or contextual information from relevant facts or data. 4. Your ability to identify primary problems or needs from a situation or set of information.
    5. Your ability to interpret data, needs, problems, and parameters associated with a situation.
    6. Your ability to elucidate assumptions you make as well as to identify contextual characteristics
    and limitations associated with the data you used to evaluate the situation.
    7. Your ability to construct a presentation that advocates a solution to a key problem or need.
    8. Your ability to project the benefits of suggested solutions—its effects on parties involved

  2. How the FedEx Office Exercise works: Read the case study carefully before you begin this exercise.

    You will be given a case to read. Be sure to read the exercise carefully—taking as much time as you believe is necessary. The case will:

    • Specify your role; who your client is; and contain data as to the situation your client faces.

    • Then, determine the relevant facts or data from the description of the situation.

    • Drawing from the facts you have selected, specify the problems that your client, its

      employees, or to your client’s customers are facing, remembering to focus only on the

      problems that your product or service can solve.

    • Taking into account the facts or situational parameters you selected and the problems

      you have deduced from those facts or situational parameters, estimate the larger

      implications associated with the problems the client presently faces.

    • Present solutions that your product or service can offer and provide detailed

      explanations on how the solution applies.

    • Relate the benefits of your solution to the specific beneficiary - your client, its

      employees, or the client’s customers.

      You will have to organize the analysis based on the format presented in class by the instructor. You will present your analysis with the following sections:

    1. SITUATION: Relevant Facts (separate section for seller and buyer)

    2. PROBLEMS: Analysis of Training Force’s Problems

    3. IMPLICATIONS: Larger, Future Implications if Problems Are Not Solved

    4. SOLUTIONS: FedEx Office Solutions for the Specified Training Force Problems

    5. BENEFITS: Benefits of the FedEx Office Solutions to Training Force

    SPIN questions are included at the end of the Situation, Problems, and Implications sections but should only be created after the analysis for each of these sections has been completed.

 
Remember - it is not enough to identify facts, problems, implication, solutions and benefits; you must analyze them in detail.

SECTION 1: SITUATION

  1. Relevant facts - specify all of the relevant facts associated with the situation as outlined in the case study. Include facts for both the seller (FedEx Office) and the buyer (Training Force) and utilize the format provided by your instructor.

    The first part of your exercise, related above, is to help you develop your skills in evaluating a situation facedbyanother.Youwillspecifytherelevantdata associatedwiththesituation.As you determine the relevancy of the data, start to evaluate the impact of the data or situational parameters on parties involved and consider the potential outcomes of the problems on the parties involved (client, client’s employees, customers, and others).

  2. Situation questions - write and present a minimum of four (4) Situation Questions the will uncover the relevant facts that are needed to understand the Training Force background and the complete Training Force process for producing and shipping materials.

SECTION 2: TRAINING FORCE PROBLEMS

  1. Analyze Training Force’s problems - identify and completely analyze a minimum of four problems that the seller can solve. Do not include internal human resource problems that have no relevance to the potential solutions that the seller may provide.

  2. Problem questions - Write and present a minimum of four (4) Problem Questions that will uncover four different problems that FedEx Office can solve that relate to Training Force’s process for producing and shipping materials

SECTION 3: IMPLICATIONS TO TRAINING FORCE

  1. Implications of the problems - specify and completely analyze a minimum of four (4) implications related to the four problems. Each implication must relate to one of the four identified problems and demonstrate the larger effect that will occur without a resolution to the problem.

  2. Implication questions - Write and present a minimum of four (4) Implication Questions that would reinforce the larger, more painful, and future implications that could occur if the problems are not solved.

SECTION 4: FEDEX OFFICE SOLUTIONS

Potential seller solutions to the buyer's problems - present and explain in detail with supporting FedEx Office features a minimum of four solutions that the seller can offer to solve the buyer's problems. Do not offer internal human resource solutions unique to the buyer’s company.

This part of your exercise is intended to help you develop your ability to amass, consolidate, and present a solution to a complex set of problems or situation. Using the data gleaned from the exercise, you will develop potential solutions to the problems. To support the solutions, you will need to specify and support your solutions with specific features and benefits. To underpin the problem and sub problems, you will need to relate relevant data and specify implications of those facts, data or situational parameters. Essentially, you are stating and justifying your interpretation of the situation— drawn from the data presented or evident.

SECTION 5: BENEFITS OF THE FEDEX OFFICE SOLUTIONS TO TRAINING FORCE

Benefits of the potential solutions - identify and explain in detail a minimum of four benefits that the buyer will experience resulting from the implementation of the seller's solutions. The benefits should clearly identify the specific beneficiary related to the buyer – overall company, employees, clients, trainers, etc.

Okay. Take a breath. Keep in mind that you are simply trying to help your client and your client’s customers achieve their goals. Rather than simply blurting out random ideas, you are going through a thought-driven process. Chances are good that you have done such things at work or in personal problem solving.

Your written submission is an internal report. Therefore, write it as professional business document with clarity and conciseness. Use full descriptive sentences that analyze the facts from the case. Format the document with clearly identified sections and headings for each of the required analysis areas. Remember that you will create SPIN questions only for the Situation, Problems, and Implications sections and the SPIN questions are created after your thorough analysis.

The required file format is Word (.docx) or PDF (.pdf) and upload the file to the Blackboard assignment. Do not email the file to your instructor. It must be uploaded to Blackboard to be graded.

Okay. Given your assignment, go ahead and read carefully through the data presented in the following section. Take your time. Read through the situation several times. You will glean different bits of information each time. Then, initiate the analytical structure related in the previous paragraph.

Assumptions - list any that you are making (implied or unstated facts). For example, it is reasonable to assume that a client seeks to grow revenue and profit.

 
 

CASE STUDY OVERVIEW Your Employer – FedEx Office

You are an account representative with FedEx Office. Your job is to secure relationships with client organizations. Your company melds the parcel moving capabilities of FedEx with printing and data capabilities. Your customers are businesses that need to distribute information to their clients or internal users(e.g.,traininginformation,productinformation,manuals). UnlikemainlineUPSorFedEx,your employer does not move parcels or freight. Instead, your company helps clients disseminate data to users. In most cases, the data and information disseminated are non-routine (i.e. specific to a certain product, project, or program). An example would be copying, packaging, and shipping training materials and operating manuals to sixty-four hospitals and other facilities owned by Trinity Health group.

FedEx Office can print, store, disseminate, package, and otherwise prepare documented materials. Its facilities are located in all U.S. cities with populations in excess of 20,000. The firm ships to any location that can be reached by road. Data can be transferred between any of the nearly 2,000 FedEx Office locations. All locations feature printing, binding, cd or DVD burning and other data packaging capabilities. All locations are served by FedEx pickup and delivery. All locations offer a range of delivery options (next day, same day, two business days) very similar to those offered by UPS.

FedEx Office can ship across the world. In some nations, agents of FedEx Office (other firms) engage in delivery. FedEx Office facilities are located only in the United States (all fifty states) and across Canada.

Your Prospect – Training Force

Training Force contacted you by telephone. Training Force is a global training services company that provides an array of packaged training programs to businesses across the United States and Canada. The company headquarters is in Cary, NC. It has sub-offices in Dallas, TX and Los Angeles, CA.

Training Force has been in business since 1997. Jordan Davis and Alex Underwood started the company as co-founders. Davis focused on developing “Voice of the Customer” program that has enabled Training Force to provide tailored solutions and services to a wide variety of industries including finance, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, logistics, retail and energy. Davis is a professional human resources trainer and holds several national standards certifications in the human resources area. Davis earned an MBA from Wharton.

In 1999, Davis convinced four fellow human resources trainers to form a co-operative. The trainers began training human resources managers in the technology area. Over the years, Davis and the partners built relationships with trainers from other disciplines (e.g., LMS, Oracle, SAP and other areas where business often job out training.

Word of mouth and positive experience allowed Davis and the partners to establish a network of
1,800 contractor trainers across the U.S. and Canada. Training Force offers training solutions for more than 25 specific applications.

 

Situational and Context-based Information

You have a video conference call with Jordan Davis. It lasts for about forty minutes. During the visit, Davis shares information with you and responds to several questions you ask. The following are notes and observations you log during the visit.

Clients contact Training Force via the internet or telephone. Based on client needs, Training Force devises a training plan and generates a bid. If the bid is accepted, Training forces notifies a trainer or training team and schedules the session. Then, the Training Forces staff confirms the printed materials specifications and any online requirements. (Training Force has learned over time that companies want to provide employees with both electronic and hard copies of all training materials.) The step is materials preparation including printing, collating and shipping. Occasionally, the client generates the materials. Next, the training site is established and trainees are registered, contacted and sent preparation instructions. Finally, training execution takes place on the designated site.

TrainingForcehas26full-timeemployees. Twelve(12)full-timestaffworkattheCary,NCoffice. Eight (8) full-time staff work at the Dallas office and six (6) full-time staff work at the Los Angeles office. At each office, training materials are prepared from documents proprietary to Training Force. Preparation usually involves customization (e.g., inserting the client’s logo, date, and producing any mandatory materials such as document numbers or certificates).

Training Force produces the materials in the quantities specified, prepares and labels flash drives or other ancillaries, and packages and labels the shipment according to the delivery instructions.

The Training Force full-time staff is mostly over 50 years old with a 60/40 mix of female/male employees. The full-time staff primarily works forty hours or fewer per week. All of the full-time staff are capable of running duplication equipment, handling document management tasks, and carrying out other office tasks. One employee at each location, the site manager, handles scheduling and billing of the training seminars. Davis and the original partners select and arrange compensation for the contractors who carry out the training.

Training Force materials ship to training locations via all the major package carriers USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL, and others as needed. The training location or hotel holds the materials and the contract trainer (i.e. not a full-time employee) picks them up.

Status of Training Force 2017

Training Force’s revenues have fluctuated over the past few years. Historically, Training Force carried out more than 5,000 seminars. Each location dispatched approximately 30 seminars per week over a 50-week training year (fiscal year). Base price for any seminar (net of materials) is $5000. Base price covers a three-day seminar (including trainer travel time). Base price covers training for ten trainees net of materials with an additional $100 for each additional trainee. In 2016, the average seminar serviced fifteen trainees and averaged four days duration.

Training Force has an excellent reputation as a provider of training for human resources, Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics, SAP and PeopleSoft. Davis knows that the cadre of 300 contract trainers, who conduct slightly over seventy percent of the classes offered each year, are the key to Training Force’s success. The core trainers average twelve four to five day sessions per year.

Contract trainers are nationally recognized experts in their fields. Most trainers once worked for large corporations (e.g., Oracle, Texas Instruments, and Microsoft) and some trainers hold advanced degrees. All trainers hold specific certifications that make the courses acceptable to certification bodies.

In 2015, the average training session cost a client $6,500 net of materials and trainer lodging, food, and travel. Training Force grossed $30.8 million in revenue.

In2016,TrainingForceran4,800sessionswithanaverage billingof$6,000persessionforagross revenue of $29.2 million. The declining revenue in 2016 caused Training Force to change pricing.

Davis explained the Training Force had cancellations between 2015 and 2016 and conceded that several long time clients had cancelled training because of delays. One client indicated that his trainer was unprepared. “The guy used a white board for the first two days of training. We paid for professional training. I had several trainees complain that they could not follow the material and had to take copious notes by hand.”

Davis elaborated that in the situation the trainer arrived at his hotel on Sunday expecting that the training materials would be there. Because of delays in processing at one of the offices, the training materials could not be shipped until late the previous Friday. The training materials arrived Tuesday afternoon— two days into the training. Davis further explained that two of the staff in the office involved were ill— causing a backup in processing. So the materials were shipped out ASAP to the hotel rather than the training site—a hospital.

Not only did Training Force lose the hospital chain as a client--the trainer involved, who was one of the core, went to another training company. “That fellow took about $250,000 annual revenue with him,” Davis conceded.

Davis observed that, although Training Force can schedule sessions, it was getting more difficult to prepare materials. Most of the clients, hospitals, banks, school districts, and certain types of manufacturing companies, were small to mid-size. Therefore, they want Training Force to prepare the training materials rather than having to print, bind, and package the materials themselves.

In cases where companies (clients) prepared materials themselves, disasters occurred. PowerPoint slides were missing or out of order. Binders were incomplete or not available. Production of training materials occurred on the spot. Misspelled words and format errors were rampant. In all cases, trainees complained and contract trainers became very frustrated.

Davis noted that the trainers were responsible for getting the materials onto the training site. That protocol had been in place since the inception of Training Force. Davis conceded that several of the core trainers were frustrated with having to secure the materials and haul them to the site. One fellow noted that a competing firm shipped direct to the site and texted its trainers regarding arrival time and location of materials. Davis conceded that ‘something needs to be done soon or we will be out of business within five years.”

When asked why Training Force did not ship direct to the training site, Davis sighed and explained that most of the hospitals, banks, and school districts the trainers deal with have large, extensive facilities. In one case, a shipment delivery to a school district office, the receptionist set the shipment with stacks of textbooks and mail that had come into the office. The trainer arrived at the high school conference room, the designated training site. It took fifteen telephone calls to the carrier, the different schools, and the school district offices to locate the training materials. “That is why I hold the trainers accountable for shipping materials.”

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When asked if the materials are customized to the client, Davis proudly stated, “You bet. That is a strength of our programs.” Davis then noted that in two cases, the wrong organization name ended up on the materials. Oracle materials prepared for the IT staff at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX were mislabeled with materials to be shipped to the IT staff at the School of Veterinary Science at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. Fortunately, the parties saw the irony in that situation.

Davis admitted that, “our office staff is well-trained and compensated but still staff productivity is declining.” The average age of an office staff member is 55 and most have family and social obligations that sometimes interrupt attendance at work. However, Davis noted that replacing and training reliable, literate, staff for such positions is expensive. Training Force pays the average staff member $40,000 per year with $20,000 per year in benefits costs. Therefore, staff costs are more than $1.5 million per year. Davis estimates that replacing a staff member will run closer to $50,000 with $30,000 in benefits and other costs of employment. Last year, Davis paid out $100,000 in overtime bonuses to staff attributable to rush jobs and business flux.

Goals for Training Force

YouaskJordanDaviswhyTrainingForceseekstocontinueinthisbusinessinlightoflaborand support problems. Davis indicates that there is increased demand for outsourced training for technology needs with anticipated growth of 10% (percent) per year for the next five years. “I really need to ramp up our operations and growth,” Davis observes.

So what other problems exist, aside from delivery and preparation issues? Davis indicates that Tech Train, a company started by a former Training Force contractor, had begun to eke away atTraining Force’s client base. Dylan Marshall, founder of Tech Train, had lured away several of Training Force’s core trainers with more lucrative compensation and better support. “Oh,” you utter. You ask Davis if Training Force can sue Tech Train for pirating materials. Davis glares at you. “The trainer is the key asset here. Any expert can develop materials. If I sue, core trainers will leave us like there’s a plague.”

 

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