Showing posts with label Alan Sugar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alan Sugar. Show all posts

Friday, 13 November 2015

The Apprentice Week 6 - Non-existent Negotiation

This week saw the 13 remaining candidates told to set up their own DIY business and try to make a profit from basic jobs. This involved the two teams providing quotes for two jobs set up by Lord Sugar, handyman tasks for a football club and a theatre, as well as to try and drum up their own business from flyers and knocking on doors. For sales professionals this episode was particularly interesting as the key to success in the task involved negotiation to try and get the best deals possible, as well as generating business in the first place. Lord Sugar has shown just how much he values sales skills in his future business partner, firing Dan in the first week for his failure to sell. So how did the candidates get on?

Awful Negotiating


Throughout the whole of the episode I’m sure sales professionals across the country were shaking their head with astonishment as to how bad all of the candidates were at trying to secure a good deal. The biggest mistakes made by the teams from a negotiating perspective came when offering a quote for redecorating the dressing rooms for a theatre in London. One of the first rules of negotiation is to know what price you’re offering for a service and to try and stick to it. Team Connectus did not seem convincing at all when initially offering £777 for the refurbishment, only ten seconds later changing their price to £877. Comically, Brett tried to cover up this mistake by suggesting just how good a service they were offering, before mincing his words telling the theatre manager ‘I am an expertise in my field’. Not the most impressive pitch.

Team Versatile had the opportunity to capitalise on the other team’s price mishaps offering an initial £560 for the theatre refurbishment job. Astonishingly, after some of the worst negotiating in the world the team ended up doing the job for only £375! Negotiation is about creating a ‘win-win’ for both parties, not just for price but for the service offering as well. The negotiation led by Richard ended up discounting the price by £200, whilst the service still included the same amount of hours of work to complete. A good strategy may have been to change the service: offer cheaper materials to try and regain some profit margin, or to remove a part of the job to reduce the amount of hours needed to complete the project. In the end the team spent a large amount of their time on this task for not a huge amount of money, a key reason why they lost the task.

Generating Business


Quite often the key to securing a large volume of sales is to manage your time effectively. The balance between prospecting for business and actually securing deals needs to be right, wasting your time on one sales channel can really hinder your efforts. Yet again the candidates were not good business examples, with Team Connectus wasting a whole day on ‘market research’ to try and find out the best areas to clean windows! With only three days to generate sales what a waste of time this was! Somehow Team Versatile seemed to match their dismal efforts by missing the deadline to print fliers, talk about a rookie error… 

If your name isn’t out there it’s going to be very hard to try and gain new business. From both a sales and business perspective this week’s apprentice is not a very good model to follow!

Thursday, 15 October 2015

The Apprentice Week 1, ‘Fish Food’- Business Lessons Learnt

Last night saw the return of the hit BBC program ‘The Apprentice’ starring business guru Lord Alan Sugar on his search to find a new business partner. The first episode entailed the 18 candidates selling seafood products across London with ingredients sourced from Billingsgate fish market. Team Versatile in blue, led by Selena, opted to sell budget calamari and fishcakes to the general public.

On the other side, Team Connectus in yellow, headed up by food blogger April, made an expensive tuna nicoise salad and high quality fishcakes to sell to high-flying business people across the city. As per usual, some of the lines from the candidates were comic such as Joseph Valente describing himself as “the ultimate persuader of women” and the “godfather of business”, unsurprisingly this series’ applicants seems to have as many odd-balls as ever. Here are the biggest business mistakes the teams made in episode 1:

The Calamari Disaster


The biggest head-in-hands moment of this week’s episode has to go to Team Versatile getting the storage temperature of the calamari wrong. For calamari to be fit to be sold and eaten it needs to be stored at around 2°C, not the 15°C which the team in blue left it in for the majority of the day. To make matters worse, the team were aware of this before they left for the day and vowed to keep it under control! Unsurprisingly the seafood spoiled and the team had to throw away half of their stock; you would have thought if you had researched how to store calamari you would at least stick to the rules. Despite this, Team Versatile made a decent profit of £200 and managed to win the task. This begs the question of what the other team could have possibly done to perform worse and make a lower profit…

Where Was The Negotiation?


One of the biggest mistakes that Team Connectus made was buying from the first fish stall they came across at Billingsgate fish market, without negotiating. This is one of the oldest lessons in business, you have to shop-around a bit before you commit to buying a product- without doubt there would have been a cheaper source of tuna at the market, which Karren Brady picked up on. On top of this, the team failed to negotiate at all going with the first price that the vendor offered. Due to this Team Connectus had significantly higher costs than their rivals, a factor in their loss of the task.   

Failure to Adapt 


Perhaps the biggest mistake that the losing team made was not spotting that their fishcakes were going to be too large. Team Connectus set a target of making 300 fishcakes to sell from their cod, yet only managed to put together a measly 89. The person at fault for this was undoubtedly the chef for the day Brett, who was too worried with meeting the specification of the fishcake recipe rather than acting pragmatically. This is a case of where not adapting to potential issues can cause major business failure and is the key reason why the team only managed a disastrous profit of £1.87!

Lord Sugar was on his usual form as ever, shutting down Mergim’s waffle by asking him “where he was going” and “what his point was”. Our previous blog on the benefits of working for Lord Sugar might interest you, which is available here. The Apprentice is on again tonight on BBC1 at 9pm for the second episode where the candidates will have to create a new brand of shampoo.