The Key to Securing New Clients is Identification of Customer Needs and Provision of Well-fitted Proposals
Yoko Kawaguchi is a businesswoman who had a 24-year career with a leading Japanese trading company. She has extensive experience due to her successive job assignments in the company’s commodity exchange, market development, management planning and new business planning departments. In May 2000 she established "Y’s Worth" to provide support mainly to small- and medium-sized companies in Japan and to contribute to industrial development in developing countries, leveraging her experience in business in Japan. Y’s Worth services include consulting in the fields of fashion, furniture/interior, home appliances and miscellaneous consumer goods. The company’s strength is its capacity to provide support to start-up businesses. It has an overseas network of partners located in China, Indonesia and the United States.
A key point for successful consulting business is the ability to precisely understand the nature and quality of services required by the clients. In addition, consulting businesses must effectively draw on their experience and expertise to provide proposals best tailored to their customers. Y's Worth's first year was a time of trial and error. But through that year of tests, Yoko Kawaguchi learned how to ascertain customers’ needs and make effective proposals.
Despite the huge number of consulting companies in existence, they differ in service types and focus, so Y's Worth does not have so many real competitors. Many foreign companies focus more on consulting performance and the nature of services than on company size when choosing a consulting company. And in contract negotiations, foreign companies make decisions quickly. They also observe contracts and pay more favorable fees. All of Y’s Worth's clients are foreign companies.
Y’s Worth’s goals are to be able to provide consulting services not only for upstream as well as downstream business, and so its services include the fields of manufacturing, sales and export/import. The company is now establishing business models together with a partner in Hong Kong.
Business Trends in Each Country can be Gauged from Proposals on TTPP
Yoko Kawaguchi visited manufacturers of fashion goods in Southeast Asian countries in March 2002 as an adviser for
ASEAN-Japan Centre. The Centre dispatched her to seek out the region’s fashion goods suppliers and invite them to participate in the Centre’s fashion goods exhibition, as part of its programs for the promotion of industrial development in the ASEAN countries.
She discovered JETRO’s site when working as advisor. She was greatly impressed by the abundance and quality of trade-related information available on the site. She registered Y’s Worth with TTPP in July 2002. In the first month after registering she contacted many companies and started negotiations with 10 of them.
Yoko Kawaguchi often browses many websites to gather information and develop new customers. According to her, information available on TTPP is more reliable than that offered by other business inquiry services. She noted that TTPP proposals are checked by JETRO when they are registered. These checks have kept the site from mischief and misuse. She does occasionally receive e-mails with dubious contents from some countries in Africa and other regions but says that it is impossible to completely protect oneself from e-mail of this type, considering that TTPP is Internet-based service.
Yoko Kawaguchi searches for business proposals on TTPP site, using the search functions based on types of exchange proposal and target countries. “We can see business trends in each country from business proposals posted on the TTPP site. It's a lot of fun to find proposals best fitted to my jobs among the numerous proposals,” said Kawaguchi. “Sometimes, I have found proposals that were posted more than six months earlier, when I was trying to find partners. It would be more convenient if there were categories that would enable us to distinguish proposals requiring urgent or time-limited responses from ordinary proposals.” She added, “ Many users only wait to be contacted by other users once they register. This may be a problem on the users’ side. TTPP would be an even more useful tool if more users would try to find their partners themselves, instead of just waiting for responses."