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Employee Retention of Washburn Guitars

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Pratik Kukreja
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Employee Retention of Washburn Guitars - April 25th, 2011

Washburn is a guitar brand owned by the US Music Corporation of Chicago, IL.
The brand was first used in 1888 by the Lyon & Healy Company, also of Chicago.


Lyon & Healy was founded in 1864 by George W. Lyon and Patrick J. Healy. “Washburn” was the middle name of George W. Lyon.
Lyon & Healy started as a music publishing company and branched into instrument manufacture during the 1880s. Washburn was their flagship brand. They ceased making guitars in 1928 and sold the Washburn brand to the Tonk Brothers Company, who also owned the Regal brand. Tonk Brothers made guitars under the Washburn brand-name for several years but had ceased to use the brand by the late-1930s and the Tonk Brothers company ceased to exist in 1947.
In 1964 a Chicago music store owner named Rudy Schlacher began importing guitars. When deciding on a marketing strategy he realized that the old “Washburn” name was not being used nor was it owned by anybody else. Schlacher registered “Washburn” as his trademark and used it as the brand-name of his imported guitars.
The Schlacher/Washburn imports were initially made in Japan, were later made by Samick in Korea, and then subsequently manufactured in China. The brand is still owned by Schlacher’s company U.S. Music Corp.
Although current marketing of the Washburn brand suggests that their instruments have been made since the 1880s there is absolutely no connection between the original guitars made by Lyon & Healy and any Washburn instruments made since 1964.

Some stories demand to be told. Others are simply content on being heard. Heard through music, through lyrics, through a cultural revolution. This is the story of Washburn Guitars.

Steeped in the tradition of fine instrument making, Washburn Guitar’s dynamic 120-history began in Chicago in 1883. The original guitar factory was located just blocks away from Maxwell Street.

In the early 1920s, Maxwell Street itself would emerge as the epicenter of a musical movement. Often considered the first entry point for thousands of African-Americans arriving from the Mississippi Delta, Maxwell Street became a hotbed for Delta Blues in its most raw and dramatic form. Newcomers and established musicians alike would listen and jam with one another in an atmosphere void of commercial influence. Once recorded, this powerful, emotional style of music would not only become the dominant form of blues but would radically change the emerging sound of rock and roll.

There, on Maxwell Street, as well as in alleyways, city sidewalks, bars, and honky-tonks around the country, Washburn guitars were embraced as the very embodiment and reflective spirit of the hard-working musicians who played them as well as the employees who designed and crafted them. It is the same spirit that guides Washburn to this day.

The history of Washburn Guitars is the history of a wide range of musicians. From blues players who shaped rock ‘n roll to multi-platinum recording artists to emerging guitar virtuosos. It is a history that can be heard and experienced every time you turn on the radio or listen to a live performance. It is a history built by skilled craftsmen and musicians who share one common love–a passion for the guitar.

Washburn continues to be a consistent leader in combining design, innovation, and technology to deliver the rich, bold sounds for a vast musical landscape.

Guitar Center’s common stock will cease to trade on Nasdaq at market close today, October 9, 2007, and will thereafter be delisted.

Stockholders who hold shares of Guitar Center’s common stock through a bank or broker will not have to take any action to have their shares converted into cash, since these conversions will be handled by the bank or broker. As soon as practicable, Mellon Investor Services, LLC, the paying agent appointed for the transaction, will send information to all Guitar Center stockholders of record, explaining how they can surrender their shares of Guitar Center common stock in exchange for $63.00 per share in cash, without interest. Stockholders of record should wait to receive this information before surrendering their shares.

Get Ahead of the Recession by Retaining Your Customers Abstract: It's more time consuming and expensive to attract new customers than it is to retain the ones you already have. Turning a one-time customer into a repeat customer depends not only upon the quality of your product or service, but also upon the way you and your staff handle that customer. Good customer service almost always trumps price, so the value of a strong customer retention plan will speak for itself when you begin to see more and more familiar faces coming through your doors.

With so much recession-fighting advice out there, it's easy to get confused about which strategies will actually benefit your business and which could be fatal mistakes. The disruption in the economy is hurting most businesses, so it's natural to seek out suggestions that might give you an advantage over the competition, so carefully consider which ideas actually apply to your business model. One strategy to help any business survive and grow during this recession is a focus on improving your customer retention practices.

Always start with a good look at your business plan, then a careful analysis of your company's weaknesses. What area of your business needed some attention even before things got rough? Are those areas still in need of some extra care? If your customer service has always been exceptional, good for you, but whatever you do, don't lose your focus on that area. Your existing customers are the most important customers, especially the 20% that are responsible for 80% of your sales.

From whatever angle you choose to target your reform efforts, don't lose sight of the customers you already have. A natural reaction to this recession is to cut costs, which is what your customers are doing too. They are probably not averse to finding a better price elsewhere, especially if you're not paying close enough attention to them. At this critical time, you must not only keep an eye on what the competition is doing, but you need to upgrade your customer service agenda as well.

Your staff must be on board for these improvement measures to take hold and stick long-term. Hold regular meetings that involve review of the day-to-day interactions with customers, emphasizing the positives and discussing how the negatives can be turned around. Show your employees that you care about them as much as you care about your customers. Customer retention is directly related to employee retention, so staff must be involved at every level of this process. You need them just as much as you need your customers.

Perform a gap analysis on your customer service program in order to compare your actual performance to your potential performance. You can make this analysis as in-depth as you want, but the basis should be in the questions: "Where are we now?" and "Where do we want to be?" One way to figure out where you stand now in terms of customer retention is to take a look at what percentage of new customers return for repurchases and how long each of your regular customers has been a repeat buyer. Are these figures where you want them to be?

A very useful assessment tool is offered through SalesForce.com called Forrester's Customer Service Innovation Framework and Self-Assessment. This free guide can help you find out how your company's processes compare to 150 customer service best practices.

One way to nourish your customer relationships as a manager or business owner is to make personal contact with each one and find out how they're doing. Because you may not know they're shopping for a better deal until it's too late, make the first contact. Let them know that they're important to you and your goal is to keep their business. Listen to your customers' pain and write it down, so that you can find a way to help them while helping yourself in the process.

Conduct a survey and collect as much information as possible, particularly each customer's regular purchasing days. You'll get a clue that something is wrong if they don't order at their usual time and you may be able to work something out before they commit to your competitor. Email a link or send a hard copy of the survey along with your product or service and make sure you allow for anonymity so that the answers will be as candid and useful as possible. Give this survey to each of your employees as well and ask them to fill it out as if they were a customer.

Don't be afraid to ask your customers what other vendors are doing to retain their existing clientele. Customers are likely to tell you what keeps them coming back to a business, especially if they can see that you are open to suggestions. The more you listen to your customer, the more you will learn about how to fulfill their needs and keep their business indefinitely.

Sometimes it takes an adjustment in the way you do business to keep your customers as regulars. An offer of extended payment terms to credit-worthy customers might be what it takes to cement their loyalty to your business. During this recession with credit as tight as it is, this offer can be a life-saver to companies that may be experiencing gaps in their cash flow. But before you do this, make sure that carrying those invoices on you're A/R won't put your business in jeopardy.

Offering credit terms is a very valuable customer retention practice, but it can be risky if you don't perform your due diligence first. An accounts receivable factoring company can help alleviate some of this risk as well as pay you for that invoice right away, so that offering longer payment terms to your customers won't slow your cash flow. A factor can advance you immediate cash on invoices that are payable in up to 90 days. As a rule, factoring companies will thoroughly check out your customers' credit before purchasing and collecting on their invoices, so ask your factor to check credit before you decide to offer terms to a new or existing customer in the first place.
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