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Rosenbluth is the fourth largest travel agency in the USA. Employees: 3.000. Rosenbluth International is the only company in America that uses a salmon as its mascot. Salmons appear on the internal newsletter, banners, name tags, pins, stickers, stationery, and mugs. Rosenbluth even sends a stuffed salmon doll to clients. Why the salmon? Because the salmon likes to buck the tide. Inspirer of the salmon motif and chief tide bucker is CEO Hal Rosenbluth. He likes to do things differently. And Hal Rosenbluth's maverick style has paid off. The company started in 1892 when Hal Rosenbluth's great-grandfather Marcus started the enterprise in an ethnic Philadelphia neighborhood to book steamship tickets for his neighbors to bring their European relatives to the United States. Now its annual sales exceed $1.5 billion and more than 5.000 associates work at 582 sites in 396 cities. But it's not surprising if you've never heard of Rosenbluth, since 95 percent of its business comes from some 1.500 corporate clients, including Du Pont, Merck, Chevron, Kodak, and General Electric. Some of Rosenbluth's business success can be traced to technology they've long been a leader in computer automation of travel reservations. And they've made what others consider brilliant tactical moves like. being the first firm to develop its own back office (accounting and client reporting system) that is independent of the reservations system maintained by airlines. If this were the typical contemporary business story, we'd now hear that Rosenbluth delivers "excellent" service because he puts the customer first. But that's not the Rosenbluth story. Ever the salmon, Hal Rosenbluth wrote a book called The Customer Comes Second.

The obvious question is: Who comes first? The company's associates come first. "We don't believe that the customer can come first unless our people come first. If our people don't come first, then they're not free to focus on our clients; they're worrying about other kinds of things", says Rosenbluth. So clients who are repeatedly rude to associates may find themselves asked to find another travel agency. As could be expected, there are no slave-driving bosses here. Supervisors (called leaders) defy conventional stereotypes. "I never feel like I manage anybody," said Terri Hater, a senior manager, "'Manage' sounds like you're controlling the actions. Sometimes I feel like a leader and sometimes like a supporter of people and then ideas." Rosenbluth's ambience comes partly from unusual hiring practices. Rosenbluth does take personality into account in choosing a new employee. "It's not technical skills we're looking for, it's nice people. We can train people to do anything technical, but we can't make them nice." According to Rosenbluth: "Our Company is made up of friends. We didn't hire friends, we just became that way." This company doesn't substitute fun and games for low pay, however. Rosenbluth associates are compensated well typically making 20 percent above the travel industry average. Working at Rosenbluth's also offers one of the best vacation and travel benefit packages in the land. That is why the turnover rate at Rosenbluth is 12 percent. The industry averages between 30 and 50 percent. Rosenbluth's low turnover can also be attributed to the opportunities opened up by rapid growth and extensive training programs. Rosenbluth operates 10 training centers throughout the country in addition to mobile training teams who conduct seminars at branch locations. The travel business is traditionally cyclical, and the early 1990s were especially unforgiving. The combination of the Persian Gulf War and the ongoing U.S. recession resulted in huge layoffs throughout the travel industry. But not at Rosenbluth. Instead of resorting to layoffs, they instituted a wage freeze in early 1991. It lasted seven months for non-managerial employees and nine months for managers. Scores of associates helped the company out by taking voluntary time off without pay and submitting over 400 cost-saving ideas through "Operation Brainstorm". To reassure employees that they would not resort to layoffs, Hal Rosenbluth sent every associate a memo in January 1991. It said: "The obvious and simple thing to do would be to follow the course that our competition has chosen and reduce staff, since 50 percent of all costs are in payroll. But let's face it that's not the action a salmon would take!"



 

 

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Date: 2016-01-03; view: 780


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