Refinement of a horticultural consultants service offering for producers in the South African deciduous fruit industry using service-dominant logic as a frame of reference

Du Plooy, Pierre (2015-04)

Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Pierre du Plooy co-founded Prophyta (Pty) Ltd, a company that provided technical consultation services in the fields of horticulture and soil science to the South African deciduous fruit industry. Initially, the founders employed goods-dominant logic, viewing their services as intangible products that needed to be sold to clients. Between the founding of Prophyta in September 2012 and November 2014, Pierre du Plooy’s value proposition, service offering and revenue model diverged from those of other consultants in Prophyta, to the extent that he resigned from Prophyta and became an independent horticultural consultant. The study focussed on Pierre du Plooy’s existing clients. The clients were surveyed to determine their satisfaction with the current service offering, their interest in additional services, their openness toward alternative revenue models and key success factors according to them. A questionnaire was designed and 29 clients were invited to participate in the survey. Six responded, resulting in a response rate of 21 percent. Client satisfaction with the current service was measured using SERVQUAL. Fifteen statements applicable to the horticulture advisory service were made and respondents’ expectations and perceptions measured on a five point Likert scale. The values obtained for the expectation and corresponding perception per statement were used to calculate a difference score. A negative value for the difference score meant the perception of the current service exceeds client expectations regarding the statement in question. In general, the clients were satisfied with the current service offering. Two main aspects needed focus. A horticulturist needs to stay up-to-date with new research and technologies, requiring him to stay abreast of relevant literature, as well as attending symposia and production areas abroad. A horticulturist also has to be very attentive to keep classified information shared by clients confidential. The first aspect relates to the creation of new knowledge, the second to strengthening and building of relationships based on trust. According to the literature, both these aspects form the bases of competition and are very important in obtaining and maintaining a competitive advantage. It is recommended that Pierre du Plooy focus on above-mentioned aspects in order to maintain a sustainable competitive advantage over competitors. It is also recommended to repeat the client survey every two years in order to monitor changing client expectations and make sure client needs are being met.

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