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Leonardo`s Formal: A World Class Benchmark (Part 1) Published: Sunday, October 30, 2005 By: Manuel E. Maldonado Cotto

On August of this year, Leonardo’s Formal, a fully owned Puerto Rican organization, was honored by the International Formalwear Association as the World’s Best Organization in its class. It is very important to stress the relevance of this distinction, because it is an accolade that honors the strength, vigor and sophistication of the Puerto Rican entrepreneurial spirit. Because of this during the course of this and next week’s article we’ll discuss Leonardo’s Formal as a world class benchmark, as a way to penetrate the blueprint of a very successful organization and share it with our distinguished readers and friends. In a time when pessimism runs wild, in a place where everything is perceived as a quick-fix and in a world that has become a very complex and ferocious competitive landscape, it is good to hear news of hope, of success and of leadership. By receiving this distinction Leonardo’s Formal has become an icon that surpasses its business model. It has become an organization that resembles everything that we as Puerto Ricans hope to become, it represents that which is the best of us and it is empirical evidence of what stuff is our soul made of. Obviously, this success is not a manifestation of chaos theory, nor is the result of the influence of arcane variables and esoteric public relations maneuvers. Behind Leonardo’s Formal success there is a blueprint that requires further discussion, because success is not a “light” endeavor. Furthermore this blueprint can be extrapolated to any industry, sector and organization, because it uses sound philosophical foundations and profound business principles. For organizations to become world class benchmarks, they have to do three things:

  • Understand their current competitive landscape.
  • Formulate a sound value proposition.
  • Synchronize and align strategy, processes and people.

First, it is imperative to understand the market’s dynamics. If an organization understands the needs of its customer base, understands the emerging needs of actual and/or potential customers and translates that knowledge into sound rules of market engagement, it will be establishing the basis for immediate and prospective growth. Furthermore, understanding how competitors behave, and the way they adapt or counter moves, will provide profound insight on the market’s nature and ways to better leverage our position in it. In other words, yes it is important to do research, yes it is important to know the performance indicators of global leaders, yes it is important to emulate those operational standards and yes you must love and be passionate about global competition.

Our point here is to stress, stress and stress the importance of understanding an organization’s competitive landscape. Leonardo’s Formal has become a World Class Benchmark because it profoundly understands the markets it serves; it engages effectively with its current customers; is working to expand its products to satisfy emerging needs and strives everyday to be the best.

Second, to become a World Class Benchmark, an organization needs to offer something special. If your organization is like the rest, then it will be difficult to establish a sound differentiation between you and your competitors. Thus, if an organization’s customer base doesn’t perceives added value, any effort aimed at establishing a longstanding relation and fostering loyalty will be wasted.

A value proposition lets customer understand what the organizations values; what the organization stands for; what the organization is made of. You better believe it, customers are into the loyalty game regardless of an organization’s business model, thus, organizations need to provide customers with the critical information that will influence their behavior and foster loyalty.

Leonardo’s Formal Vision statement provides us with insight regarding at how to configure a sound value proposition, it states as follows: “Provide our customers with competitive and first-class services and products; serving as a facilitating instrument for the most important moments of their lives”. This clear vision has paved the way for Leonardo’s Formal, to establish a definitive differentiation form its competitors and has enabled the organization’s capacity to establish a core and loyal customer base.

In synthesis, what we have stated so far is that any organization hoping to become a World Class Benchmark has to profoundly understand its competitive landscape first and then formulate a sound value proposition. It is of the utmost importance that businesses and enterprises, invest time in understanding their reality both locally and globally. And most importantly organizations need to translate that understanding in the customer’s language, as a way to engage them at their level.

Next week we will discuss the third component of the World Class Benchmark blueprint.

God bless you all.


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