profitability and accounting in .NET framework

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profitability and accounting
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a leader in the computer industry for years In the 1980s, when the personal computer market started to bloom, IBM took it for granted that it would maintain its leadership position But that was not to be The development of the Internet has taken a toll on Barnes and Noble s leadership in the book industry Amazoncom has emerged as the leader in revenues from book sales over the Internet With time, Amazoncom is increasing its dominance and, hence, its cost advantage It is also taking some market share from Wal-Mart Somehow, someday, Wal-Mart s dominance will erode, but I can t predict which competitor will emerge to challenge Wal-Mart If retailing is in your circle of competence, you may spot such a candidate early and invest in that company The second important ingredient for success in the commodity business is customer service or customer satisfaction American Express was not the rst credit card company; Diners Club was But American Express came from behind, established its name on the strength of its customer service, and captured market share Interestingly, VISA then came from behind and, using a low-cost strategy, became the market leader At least for now, VISA, MasterCard, and American Express seem to be surviving well in this market by differentiating their products The main advantage for American Express is its excellent customer service Overall, it earns about one percentage point more on charges than VISA and MasterCard But it is expensive to provide good customer service For this reason, you may notice that companies often decide to service one segment of the market or the other In credit cards, American Express prefers to service high-end customers by charging a higher annual fee and a higher fee to book airline tickets Good customer service is one important reason for Berkshire s success in traditional industries Buffett explains Berkshire s emphasis on customer service through the following example: Our two pipelines, Kern River and Northern Natural, were both acquired in 2002 A rm called Mastio ranks pipelines for customer satisfaction Among the 44 rated, Kern River came in 9th when we purchased it and Northern ranked 39th There was work to do In Mastio s 2009 report, Kern River ranked 1st and Natural 3rd Charlie and I couldn t be more proud of this performance 3 In the 2008 American Customer Satisfaction Index survey conducted by the University of Michigan, GEICO ranks higher than
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Who Wins in Highly Competitive Industries
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it major competitors Allstate, Progressive, and State Farm It seems that it is neither low cost nor customer service but a combination of the two that results in the winning strategy for companies in highly competitive industries Just as a company s cost advantage grows with market share, the same is true of customer satisfaction As the number of retail customers increased, many Wal-Mart stores started to remain open 24 hours a day In my neighborhood, Wal-Mart is open 24 hours, whereas Kmart is not Longer store hours often reduce costs and leave customers more satis ed
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How Do Companies Keep Costs Low
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Companies keep costs low in a variety of ways Wal-Mart has kept the company headquarters in the small town of Bentonville, Arkansas Its executives share hotel rooms and do not dine at fancy restaurants while traveling Even though the largest cost for companies is the cost of goods sold, cost advantage seems to emanate more from indirect or overhead costs For example, have you ever wondered why lunch prices are a fraction of dinner prices at many fancy restaurants Restaurants pay a xed monthly rent, so if they can serve extra meals, their cost per meal goes down Also, even if there are plenty of customers available to nice restaurants during regular dinner hours, a reduced price can help attract additional diners earlier in the day At one of my favorite restaurants in New Orleans, a xed-price dinner before 6:30 pm is only $19, whereas the same meal after 6:30 pm costs twice as much Extending hours of operation also reduces overhead costs and attracts a different set of customers a mechanism known as price discrimination, in economic terms Airlines that offer reduced prices on afternoon ights or on nonbusiness days also use this principle to boost their pro ts You may be surprised to know that it is not the high gross margin that is the driving force behind Wal-Mart s pro tability Gross margins at Wal-Mart and Kmart have been similar for years But Wal-Mart, whose inventory turnover is much higher than Kmart s, is known for maintaining a highly sophisticated and technologically advanced system to keep inventory moving This system considerably reduces overhead costs per item sold, which brings about higher pro tability
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