Pilot Shortage in Asia is Massive

Chinese Airlines

If you have been to anywhere in Asia recently you have probably noticed that the airline industry has really expanded. There are lots of beautiful new airports and shiny new airplanes.  As a result of this, Asian airlines are rushing to recruit qualified pilots from around the world to counter a shortfall of pilots.  These airlines are really struggling to crew their airplanes as they expand. Industry experts are worried about the possibility of routes and services being cancelled due to a lack of flight crews.  This would be considered a disaster in the Asian airline industry and a massive loss of face.

In China airlines are holding recruitment fairs in Europe, Australia and in the United States to find experienced captains and first officers. China has no fewer than 10 large airlines searching for experienced captains to fly their B737NG’s, A320’s, A330’s, B757/B767’s, B787’s, B777’s and B747-400’s. The Indian airline industry is also desperate to hire type rated, and non-type rated, experienced captains and first officers. Basically who ever meets their standards at the interview stage get them started in training and into the airline cockpit as soon as possible. In South East Asia, low-cost airlines share some of the highest expansion rates in the world and are also in need of pilots to crew their airplanes.

Photo by Michael Rehfeldt – http://tinyurl.com/zpk46g4 

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Maybe You Should Purchase an Asian Food Franchise

ig1666 toronto canada ontario interior of a chinese restaurant in chinatown in downtown toronto

I have several friends that have recently decided to move their lives in a new direction. Although they were employed in high paying jobs working for prestigious organizations they decided working for someone else was not their long term game plan.  They wanted to be their own boss and wanted to be in charge of their own destiny.  Because they had families, however, they felt they needed a plan where the risk could be minimized.  Each of these friends came to the conclusion that purchasing a franchise was the answer.

Do you have a game plan that is leading to where you want to be five or ten years from now? Many people have chosen franchising as a way to develop a plan that is based on a proven success model. The franchising model has worked especially well in the food sector and Asian food is one of the many choices where its popularity is rising.  There are many Asian food franchising opportunities. The choices include a number of different ethnic Asian food franchises ranging from Chinese and Japanese to Korean and Thai among others.  Many American consumers are tired of burgers and fries and Asian food franchising can offer a healthy and unique alternative.

I found a list of Asian food restaurant franchise opportunities on the Franchise Mall website. It lists many different Asian food franchise opportunities.  See:  http://tinyurl.com/j3odhej

Photo by Mark Goebel – http://tinyurl.com/h2b96ma



Should You Start Your Own Business?

Chinese Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurialism could be your key to personal growth.  From restaurants to retailers and service businesses, there are many examples of entrepreneurial success in Asia and in the United States.  Individuals from all walks of life have turned a dream into a major accomplishment.  Some successes have happened overnight while others have happened through slow steady progress.  Of course there are risks involved but the rewards can be significant.

The Shanghai La Vie Hotel in China is a good example of how quickly growth can occur in an entrepreneurial venture.  In less than two years, the entrepreneur had been able to build a very successful business that includes four office buildings, a hotel and a series of restaurants.  The hotel itself has seventy six rooms and the overall business employs a total of one hundred and forty two people.  This type of growth is happening with thousands of businesses all over China.

Schlesinger Associates, a market research company, is an example of how an entrepreneur in the United States turned a home-based business into a global company. The company was started by a housewife in one of the bedrooms of her New Jersey home.  After a lot of initial hard work the business began to grow and moved into a formal office facility.  At that point the business really started to take off and expanded to multiple locations.  They now have twenty two facilities around the world and employ six hundred people.

If you are now in the process of thinking about your next move you may want to consider starting your own business.  A good place to start is to talk with people who have successfully started or expanded their own small businesses.  Their personal stories can be educational and just might give you the insight to propel yourself into an exciting new chapter of your life.


Five Asian Customer Retention Techniques

Chinese businessmen

As any successful entrepreneur knows, it can be hard work learning how to retain customers and keep them coming back. In Asia, retaining customers is not only important to profits, it is also important in maintaining status in the community. The following are five of the more interesting customer retention techniques being used in Asia:

  1. Inexpensive Repair – To foster customer loyalty, the owner of an Atunas sporting goods store in Taipei, Taiwan tells his customers that he will stand by them if something goes wrong with a product. He wants to create the image that Atunas is a famous brand with excellent service. If a product is broken, he will never charge more than $5.00 (150 NT) to correct the problem. He feels that this is a service his customers can get that they cannot get from other sporting goods retailers. He tells the story of one customer who had owned an Atunas backpack for 7 or 8 years and brought it back to his store with a damaged front. He only charged this customer $5.00 (150 NT) to fix the backpack, which was really not even enough to pay for the shipping charge to the repair facility. He is charging a minimum service charge to build loyalty.
  2. Changing Scenery – One strategy for keeping long-term hotel customers is to periodically modify the design of the hotel rooms. The management of the Shanghai La Vie Hotel has found it to be fairly inexpensive and quick to update the rooms in their hotel. Currently for $8,000 (50,000 RMB) they can change the design of a room. In approximately 2 months they can change the design of 10 rooms in their hotel. To maintain strong customer satisfaction, the rooms in this hotel are kept fresh and modern. In some cases the entire theme of the rooms are periodically changed.
  3. Changing Menu – The owner of the Ding Jen Fong restaurant in Taipei, Taiwan decided that he would constantly evolve his menu by periodically adding new items. His goal was to have many repeat customers and he felt that they expect to see new dishes from time to time. In June of this year, for example, he will be adding more than a dozen new dishes. He is concerned that without new dishes customers will get tired of the old dishes and they won’t keep coming back. This successful restaurant owner is convinced that his constantly changing menu is one of the reasons his customers come back and bring their friends.
  4. Fast Service – One of the ways the Liu family retains customers for their strawberry farm in Shanghai, China is by providing extremely fast service. They can do this because their bakery customers are dealing directly with their farm rather than with a wholesaler. The Liu’s have found that the bakeries in Shanghai are frequently faced with rush orders due to changing customer requirements. Normally the Liu’s will go out on their truck at 5:30 in the morning to deliver strawberries. When a customer calls up for immediate delivery, however, the Liu’s can accomplish that because they have their own delivery truck. In only a couple of hours they can deliver an emergency order. Most other strawberry farmers cannot do this because they only sell to wholesalers.
  5. Listen to Customers – Many businesses in Asia spend time listening to their customers and carefully observing their actions. As relationship building is the key to doing business in Asia, many try to establish personal relationships with each of their customers.

During this period of global uncertainty it is more important than ever for businesses to retain their customers. Tracking customer loyalty is a process that all organizations should do on a continuous basis. As businesses grow, however, it is difficult to maintain personal relationships. Nevertheless, many entrepreneurs in Asia have made it a priority to keep in touch with their customers. From inexpensive repair services to fast service and ever-changing menus and hotel décor, these entrepreneurs have figured out clever ways to keep their customers coming back.


Become an Entrepreneur in China

Chinese Entrepreneur II

If you are looking for your next big opportunity, starting a business in China could be a viable option. During this period of slow growth and global uncertainty many individuals and business owners are looking for expansion opportunities outside of their native country. One popular destination for such opportunity seekers right now is China. The reasons range from lower labor costs to what some consider less expensive regulations and taxes. Many believe that China has a more business-friendly environment than exists in many countries, even in the United States

The Land of Opportunity Many Chinese entrepreneurs feel that China is a market they can grow in. They typically believe that, despite a current slowdown, China is still the biggest growth story in the world. They typically feel there has been a huge growth in disposable income, and Chinese consumers are ready to spend. Chinese entrepreneurs are generally optimistic about the outlook in China for the next five years.

Another indication of the growth in China is the number of foreigners that are getting jobs in China. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, last year there were over 200,000 work permits issued to foreigners that enabled them to obtain jobs in China. Many of these jobs are related to teaching English to Chinese students, but there are also many foreigners who are obtaining professional jobs in China.

From huge cities like Shanghai to smaller cities like Wuhan, there are small business success stories all over China. Many of these successful businesses have been started by expatriates. One example is The XuGuang Fruits and Vegetables Professional Cooperative.

Three years ago Mr. and Mrs. Liu moved to Shanghai, China to start a strawberry business. They purchased a seven acre plot of land (42 Chinese mu) in a rural northwestern suburb of Shanghai. They built their home and office on this land as well as a small state-of-the-art strawberry farm. Because they were planning to sell a large amount of strawberries they made arrangements to use an additional 46 acres (278 mu) of land located just south of their home base farm. In only three years this farm has become a major supplier of strawberries to the major bakeries in Shanghai.

The Entrepreneur in China Being an entrepreneur in China is different than being one in many other countries. Starting a new small business in the United States is relatively easy compared to many other markets around the world. Starting a business in China, for example, can be extremely difficult unless the entrepreneur has been able to establish the appropriate relationships (Guanxi). Nevertheless, the rewards for owning a small business in China are many.

The term “Guanxi” is frequently used in China to describe business relationships. Guanxi is generally the key to being a successful entrepreneur in China. The decision to do, or continue doing business, with you is often based on the other party’s personal view of you rather than the numbers in a business case. This can make it hard for Westerners to get in contact with appropriate business contacts, unless they represent a very large company that everyone wants to do business with. The XuGuang Fruits and Vegetables Professional Cooperative spent a considerable amount of time cultivating their network of contacts before starting their businesses.

Key to success Entrepreneurs in China typically feel that one of the most important keys to their success is finding the right niche in a timely industry. The strawberry farm in Shanghai is a good example of effective market timing. One of the reasons Mr. and Mrs. Liu were successful is because the number of shops and restaurants selling bakery goods has increased dramatically in Shanghai over the past few years. In driving around Shanghai, for example, one will notice the large number of new Starbucks coffee shops all over town. They were successful because they sell strawberries to bakeries that supply strawberry pastries to many of these Starbucks.

In China, finding a timely industry can also be important from the standpoint of gaining government permits. Because China’s government is so tightly affiliated with its businesses, knowing what the government wants can be of great benefit. One suggestion offered is to check out the five-year plan that the Chinese government publishes, which details what types of businesses they are looking for.

Need to Speak Chinese If you are planning to start a business in China you should spend some time studying Mandarin. Several foreign entrepreneurs have started businesses in China without being able to speak Chinese. They had hired trusted managers who were able to help them hire employees and deal with the other details of forming and running a business. This, however, is not typically the case. Normally foreign entrepreneurs arrive with some ability to speak Chinese and then pick up more while they are living in China.

Conclusion It is possible to become an entrepreneur in China and this could be a viable option for the right individual. Many people believe that China is currently the biggest growth story in the world because there has been such a huge growth in disposable income among Chinese consumers. The key is to have patience and pay attention to relationship building and picking a timely industry




Selling Online in China


There is currently a huge opportunity to sell products online in China. With a rising economy and little to no personal debt it is easier for the Chinese consumer to spend more on luxury goods. It is not surprising, therefore, that this emerging Chinese middle class is now spending more money online.  They are particularly interested in products they cannot easily get in China such as American luxury goods like gourmet food products, wine, fashion clothing, and jewelry. These products are typically only available online.  Many will order these products online, even if they have to wait a long time for the product to arrive.

Chinese online retailers have made it easy for companies to sell online to the Chinese market. There are several online retailers in China.  The largest is TMAL.com, which has over a 50% share of the online B2C market in China.  JD.com is the second largest Chinese online retailer.  Amazon has established Amazon.cn, an online retailer in China that is similar to Amazon.com.  This Amazon website is totally in Chinese and is specifically for Chinese consumers.

Social media is extremely popular in China and is an excellent way to promote products sold through Chinese online retailers. There are many similarities between the social media in China and that in the United States. There are, however, some differences.  Chinese consumers don’t use Facebook, Twitter or YouTube but they have similar options.  In China many people use Weixin/WeChat, a social media site that is similar to Facebook in the United States.  As with Facebook, WeChat has ads that can be broadcasted to specific audiences. Sina Weibo is one of China’s very popular sites and is similar to Twitter in the United States.  Videos are placed on Youku, which is similar to YouTube in the United States.  Q-zone is one of the most popular social networking sites in China and has over 600 million users.

Placing advertisements on social media is a great way to promote products in China. Online advertising, however, is more difficult than in the United States. A deal has to be made with each social media platform each time a media buy is made and each deal is different.  It seems that almost everything is negotiated in China and social media is no exception.  Agreements have to be made as to the time frame the advertisement will be run as well as the price.

A Chinese website is considered a basic requirement for a manufacturer selling online in China. Many Chinese consumers like to verify the authenticity of a manufacturer prior to making a purchase.  One of the ways they do this is by reviewing the manufacturer’s website.  They are looking for information about the company as well as details about the brand and products. 

Consumer Research is often a first step for larger companies selling products online in China. It enables these companies to develop an understanding of the attitudes of Chinese consumers toward their products.  Would they be interested in purchasing these products through a Chinese online retailer?  How do they feel about the brand name, quality of the products, pricing and any other elements of the marketing program.  Through what social media can they best be reached regarding these products?  Do these products and the marketing messaging fit their lifestyle?

If you spend time in China these days you will notice an interesting phenomena. Many Chinese consumers are now less interested in bargains and cheap products and more interested in quality products, brand names and foreign products.  This is one of the reasons there is currently a huge opportunity to sell products online in China. Many Chinese consumers are willing to take to time to go online to find the product that exactly fits their needs.