Working Out Management Kinks

A growing number of U.S. service companies are pursuing an international "good management" seal of approval called ISO 9000. More than a marketing tool, it helps a company cut procedural kinks and set up systems to catch problems at the source. The reported benefits: long-term savings and increased customer satisfaction. What's involved? An "audit" by a registrar who reviews operations, from customer requests to final billing. That means a company must document exactly what it does, how, and who is responsible at each step. At Belmay Inc., a Yonkers (N.Y.)-based fragrance design firm, audit preparations revealed at least 10 systemic problems--in handling rush orders, for example. Contact the American National Standards Institute (212 642-8908 or Local colleges or business centers may also have info.

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