A Glimpse Into Product Development in Thailand!
I arrived in Khao Lak on Monday to sight inspect new hotels for our groups and connect the hotels and managers to our project, Duang Prateep Foundation.
In the afternoon I headed out to Takuapa to work with the orphanage and handicraft group. We had many things to discuss including best exporting practices, submission forms, customs, production time line expectations and much more. I was met with slight resistance when we talked about time lines. We are approaching an exciting but stressful time where the handicraft center is growing so quickly that we need to employ more staff. The directors are hesitant to take on more full time people until they see the orders grow consistently-this will be an experimental time for us both. I explained we need to backstock inventory at the center so that when we place large orders, part of the order will be ready and then they will have 2 weeks to produce the remaining order and get it shipped out. The issue is that the handicraft staff also work several other jobs at the orphanage. We discussed prioritizing the orders and training other women in the village to come in and work on large orders to meet deadlines. I was told it is the Thai way to give the busiest people the most jobs- it may not make sense in our culture, but it is how things operate over here. For example Yo is the main designer at the center, but also serves as a driver when volunteers come in. If a group needs to be picked up at the airport and taken around, it is Yo who assists them. At the same time there may be an order from TVE waiting to be fulfilled, Yo could be gone for 2 or 3 days-thus the reason it has taken 4-6 weeks to get orders filled. I was amazed that this is allowed to happen and we discussed the need to cut down their work load and have them focus almost solely on the handicraft center if they want it to grow the way we expect it too.
Explaining our business practices is difficult in a new culture. There is always hesitation to change, but I could not stress enough the dollar amount that could come in to support the project if we make some changes, thus alleviating some stress and work on the management end.
To combat the delay in production, we talked about giving bonuses to the team if they hit production schedules-the director is considering this. I am half way there! I believe as our own business grows and thus the orders grow, they will see the need to employ even more full time staff to work solely at the center thus boosting their local economy as more people are given jobs.
When the meetings were through, I explored the property and saw the new handicraft shop and met with the batik team. Their paintings are extremely beautiful and one of a kind. We discussed incorporating their designs into one of our new products.
Now its back to the hotel to relax and watch the sunset!