Lawyers copy. Let me expound on that. Lawyers proudly copy. If I am writing a joint venture agreement on a coal mine in Western China, the first thing I will do is send out an email to everyone in my office asking for our most recent China joint venture agreements, preferably involving a mining operation, even better if it involves coal mining. I will also go online to various specialized law sites and run a google search seeking out China joint venture agreements involving coal mines. And hey, believe me, if I see some good provisions in any of those, I will co-opt them (and seek to improve them) for the joint venture agreement I am doing. This is what lawyers do.
And this is what I have done in running my law business. I do not have an MBA and I do not have time to read MBA type books to get the equivalent of one on the cheap. So I borrow from what I read/hear and like. I read once about how Ford Motor Company emphasized standardization because it saves time and money in that it allows for familiarity and swapping out. All of the desks in our firm are the same. All of the desk chairs are the same. All of the guest chairs are the same. Everyone has either a MacBook Air or a MacPro Desktop or both and an iPhone. This means if someone forgets a cord or a cord breaks or whatever, we are covered.
I have a tendency to do the same with China. I see who is succeeding and figure that they are to be emulated. Despite its recent blip, I still border-line worship what KFC has done in China. I marvel at its ability to provide decent and safe and cheap food at a profit throughout China. That is no small feat and I assume KFC is doing a lot of things right. And if I were to start a fast food company in China, I would read as much as I could about how KFC did and does it, rather than try to re-invent the wheel.
I used to write a lot about individual companies in China, back when newspapers and magazines contained a lot more than they do now in the way of articles setting forth what various companies had done to succeed in China. I loved those posts because I always have figured that one can learn more (and better copy) from specific examples than from bromides on how to do things. I am labelling this post “Part 1″ because I am planning on this being the first in a long running and irregular series of posts highlighting China success stories/who to copy in China.
So I was delighted to see on my Facebook today that my friend, Ben Shobert, just came out with a two part interview series with with Marie Han Silloway, Starbucks China’s chief of marketing. Starbucks is succeeding in China in many ways. They are profitable and they are constantly growing. Their stores feel very much like a Starbucks anywhere, and yet they also have Chinese characteristics. Amazing to me is that their service is so good and pretty much matches the service of Starbucks in more service-oriented countries like Japan and the United States. In other words, if you doing business in China or thinking of doing business in China, Starbucks would be a good company to copy. And for that, I recommend you read Will China be Starbucks’ Cup of Tea and Will China be Starbucks’ Cup of Tea, Part 2.
Read ’em and learn.
What do you think?