Indonesia : Indonesia falls in love with Ceragem 2007.09.12

[The Indonesia Corporation] Indonesia falls in love with Ceragem

Ceragem, which established its Indonesian branch in June 2003, has been expanding its reach into neighboring South East Asian countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand. 

Finally, in January 2006, the Indonesia Corporation was established with Mr. Kim Sam Jin (formerly the sales director in Korea) as its head. Ceragem in Indonesia has been expanding rapidly thanks to a variety of efforts in vitalizing sales and organizational restructuring and currently operates 25 centers. By September of this year, the total number of centers will be 30 after contracts are finalized for 5 new shops.

The Master of Initiative – Single-Mindedness for Achieving Goals
Director Kim is a typical ‘Choongchung-do’ guy. His unhurried speech, calm expression, and reserved mannerisms give people a very relaxed first impression. But, he usually ends up surprising those same people with his incredibly in-your-face style of work.

“I know that my preference for getting things done in a rush can often make it difficult for my fellow employees. But there is just so much that needs to be done since our branch is still very young. There’s no time to be complacent, so all I can do is hope that my employees trust me and come along for the ride.” 

During the initial phases of the corporation, he spent many nights awake trying to figure out what the central tasks were. The first task, he concluded was changing the work attitude and mentality of the local employees. As a man who valued flexibility and swiftness, he simply could not accept the passive work attitudes that were prevalent amongst the local employees. Also, he thought that the Islamic tradition for taking an hour off for prayers was going to be a problem for providing quality services. 

Mr. Kim was convinced that it was unfair for fellow employees to be affected by the religious preferences of one person, so he made an announcement that anything that got in the way of the company’s profitability had to be changed (even culture and religion). He then provided a vision for instilling work passion and responsibility for individual employees. A small space for prayer was created in the Center so that employees could fulfill their religious duties there instead of having to go out. Several people left the company at first, saying that they did not want their religious priorities to be restricted by the company, but now the company is operating harmoniously through constant training. 

The second task was hiring translators. It was critical for the company to communicate with the locals, but there was a major shortage of people that could provide such services. Mr. Kim decided to be patient and cultivate the talent that he needed. He wanted people that could not only translate a given message, but also convey the company spirit of Ceragem. Mr. Kim’s efforts and passion paid off in that some of these translators ended up establishing Ceragem centers of their own. 

In order to invest in translation talent, Ceragem’s Indonesian Corporation started a scholarship program last August. 5 students are now selected by the department of Korean language studies in both Universitas Indonesia and Universitas Nasional and are provided with tuition support in return for working at Ceragem for a set period after graduation. The goal was to take advantage of many locals who are now currently enrolled in Korean Language departments that are easily looked for because of many industrial trainees who had experience working in Korea. The Korean language department at the Universitas Indonesia in particular—which is one of the top 100 schools in the world—is expected to stimulate more interest in Korean companies. 

The final task required major decision-making over the dilemma of changing the staple product from automatic thermal massagers to manual ones. 

‘Wouldn’t it be foolish to start selling manual products when people have already been exposed to automatic ones for the past 2 years? But, then again, it wouldn’t be wise to insist on expensive products that are not affordable for most people. There are even just few people who want to set up a business here since they are worried about investment costs.” 

In the end, Mr. Kim decided to switch to manual products and immediately started the transition process. As expected, fewer people visited the Center and fewer phones calls concerning product information were received for a while. But, things started to pick up after two months and within four months all the center spots were taken up. The costs for setting up a center for Ceragem were much lower than before, so a lot of people started asking question about joining the business. His decision was evidently the right one. 

Changing Perspectives – a Crisis is an Opportunity

A crisis can often present opportunities for a person if they look at it from the right angle—but this usually requires a truly optimistic mind. In this sense, we can view Mr. Kim’s opportunity as the result of his “everything is possible” attitude. The ‘Ceragem Master Leadership Program’ can also be seen as the result of his positive mentality. 

Visiting a center far away from your home can be a difficult task for a place that doesn’t have adequate public transportation such as Indonesia. It is virtually impossible to visit such a place even if you want to, unless you live within walking distance to a center. Thus, it has become the norm for people to test products out at a neighbor’s house for a small fee. Since people could try out products near their house for less than the cost of taking a bus, there was no reason for anybody to visit the Center. This has become a critical issue to reduce the number of the center.

In regards to this situation, Mr. Kim remarked that: “Even in Korea, we used to have a similar situation where people would try out their neighbor’s product for a small fee. It is understandable that people prefer going to a neighbor’s house since it is cheaper and more convenient than visiting a center. If people can’t make it to the Center, then we should at least make sure that their neighbors are giving them the right information about our Ceragem products.” 

He thus created the ‘Ceragem Master Leadership Program’ in order to effectively generate the company’s publicity. This 9 day program, mandatory for all customers who order the product, is designed to provide more accurate information about Ceragem products to the local population. A certificate and medal is awarded to those who successfully complete the program. This system has provided people with the incentive to actively promote Ceragem products and it has increased sales at the Center (since purchases have to be made there anyway). 

Ceragem’s Continuous Effort for Customer Relations and Education

Mr. Kim was passionate about customer relations ever since his early days working in Korea. He realized that new sales often happened from customers recommending the product to other people, so he maintained relationships with previous customers via phone, mail, and personal visits. 

At the early stage of the Corporation, he immediately established the customer relations department in order to maintain relations with local customers. His system for checking up on customer with phone calls to see if there were any problems—and providing swift after service if necessary—helped increase consumer trust for Ceragem products.

He stresses that “In order to provide quality services for customers, I first have to arm myself with a proper mentality and precise information.” The Indonesia Corporation carries out a training session for dealers every 2-3 months and provides a variety of routine educational events for directors, sectional chiefs, and team managers (not to mention the ‘Ceragem Master Leadership Program’). He claims that he feels an incredible sense of satisfaction from watching people grow through these educational programs. 

Claiming that this is only just the beginning despite the impressive progress that has already been made, Mr. Kim notes that “There is the entire list of things we have to do next year, as soon as we finish organizing our operations. I think Ceragem’s success is guaranteed as long as we don’t forget the passion that we felt during our first year here.” Indonesia, which had previously been a no-man’s land for thermal massager equipment, is now a booming market.


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