OK, THAT COMPANY’S NAME may sound suspiciously like another you hear bandied about a lot these days, but we promise you it isn’t that one. Wad-Waf is pure invention — an invention of veteran fulfillment consultant Donald R. Libey back in the days when companies actually had time to romance customers. In a gem of an article written for the July 1993 issue of O+F, Libey used an imaginary company, light-bulb marketer Wad-Waf, to illustrate a quantitative customer retention formula that should still work with very little modification. Here are Libey’s assumptions:
|Send 3 postcards||0.60||1.60|
|Send 1 reorder reminder||0.40||1.25|
|Send 1 birthday card||0.65||0.60|
|Send 1 no-special-reason card||0.60||0.00|
|Source: O+F, July 1993|
Each customer of Wad-Waf orders twice a year and spends $150 per order. A typical customer buys for at least five years.
Wad-Waf prospects heavily and gets 20,000 new customers every year. But only 50% of those customers ever buy from Wad-Waf again.
Wad-Waf wants to keep half of the 10,000 customers who never buy again.
Wad-Waf is willing to spend 1% of its lifetime net profit before taxes (NPBT) on each new customer to raise its customer retention percentage to 75%.
Wad-Waf now has a budget of $45,000 to retain 20,000 new customers.
Do the math, and you end up with these numbers:
Lifetime purchase value: 2 × $150 × 5 = $1,500
Lost purchase value: 10,000 × $1,350 = $13,500,000
Recovered purchase value: 5,000 × $1,350 = $6,750,000
Lifetime NPBT: $225 × .01 = $2.25
Customer retention: 20,000 × 2.25 = $45,000
With $2.25 to spend on each customer, what can Wad-Waf do to get its desired 50% increase in repeat orders? What kind of marketing bang can $2.25 deliver? How can Wad-Waf keep 5,000 of the 10,000 first-time buyers who go away?
By doing just the few things listed in the box above, Wad-Waf can show its customers that it cares about them, or at least knows that they exist. “How much will that effort be worth?” asks Libey. “Possibly $6,750,000.”
A PERFECT 10
You never know what nuggets you’ll find when combing through the O+F archives. A perusal of the July 1993 issue of O+F shows that some things never change. For instance, the hackneyed business phrase “top of mind” was already in use a decade ago. In a more serious mode, this month’s research also provides evidence for the far more substantive point that measuring productivity is crucial to improving it.
Of the respondents to a 1993 O+F survey who used benchmarking to measure productivity, an impressive 89% of those firms using “engineered,” or time — motion benchmarks, rather than “historic,” or average, benchmarks, reported a significant increase in worker productivity from the previous year.
The most common benchmark, used by 69% of respondents, was for units processed per man hour. Cost per package was next, measured by 53% of respondents; cost per piece was measured by 37%.
In measuring the impact of engineered standards on worker productivity — defined as catalog sales versus the number of FTEs — the respondents (all catalog firms) claimed an average of about $170,000 more sales per FTE than companies that did not use those standards.
Way Back When
Firms with the highest levels of performance follow many of the same practices:
- Measure productivity daily
- Use engineered (time-motion) productivity benchmarks
- Batch orders
- Employ scanning and bar code technology
- Have incentive programs
The advantages large firms enjoy are often a result of following these practices rather than a consequence of their sales volume.
Source: O+F, July 1993
1993 Cycle Times
|Actual Time (hours)||Optimal Time (hours)|
|Shipment received to unloaded||1||1|
|Unloaded to putaway||8||4|
|Order taken to available for processing||6||3|
|Order printout to picking completion||5||4|
|Order picked to pack||2||1|
|Returns order receipt to putaway||33||20|
|Source: O+F, July 1993|