“Quality” in everything you do is the key and foundation for every business. #000098
Quality – The Foundation
By Gary Shotton
Let’s talk about quality and why quality is the foundation for every company, every product, every service, and how important quality is. As I sit in my machine shop, in the finished goods department, these finished goods are ready to sell. We make them in advance on blanket orders. And we have repeat customers, who come back to us over and over and over again.
Our customers know that they get consistently quality parts and service from us. Once in a while, we make a few mistakes. Sure, everybody understands that happens. But the percentage of scrap parts, non-conforming parts coming out of our shop is very low. And our customers are very pleased with that.
My previous business life was with a trucking company, and prior to that, I owned a moving and storage company. We had the goal of quality in those companies. too. To the best of our ability, we sent out workers to do a complete job: moving furniture, packing up goods, having very few things lost or broken. We attempted to make everything we did a quality operation. And that brought us repeat customers.
Repeat customers are the part of the game. Once you have repeat customers, they will refer you to new customers. Those two things, repeat and referral, are by far the very best thing that you can do to grow in your marketing plan. We had that because we had quality. Not perfect, but we had quality.
Let’s talk about some companies in town. One is a chicken company that’s highly respected here. There are plenty of places you can buy chicken, but this chicken company has quality! In fact, they actually shut down on Sundays, because they have such quality workers and such a quality commitment to family, that they close their doors on Sunday. They open only six days a week, and I will guarantee you that at lunchtime, and again in the evening, there are long lines of customers. Yes, they have quality. I had a friend who went to a different chicken restaurant, and didn’t know this favorite business was nearby. As he ate the other company’s chicken, he thought something was wrong, and sure enough, he became ill with food poisoning. For my friend, that was a death sentence to this other brand. He will never, ever go back to that company, because of his bad experience. They didn’t have quality.
Another company in town, a convenience store, also has its headquarters is in our city. They have some 750 filling stations. But they are not just gas stations, not just for fuel. The bigger part of the revenue is now in food—coffee, soft drinks, snacks, sandwiches–and other things you buy. They have a very good plan. They offer quality, quality, quality, quality, quality, because they’re consistent in what they do. You get quality when you create good, repeatable systems, and you create good, repeatable systems with good employees. Your people feel comfortable at the workplace. Your people are consistent at what they do, and you can start repeating the quality. Then you can start adding just a few things over time. First, this fueling station added food; now they’re adding more. They started with basic foods that you could buy at the counter. They have added a kitchen now at every one of their stores. Then they added pizza. They offer ice cream and many other kinds of foods. All of these are high-margin, high-profit products, and very focused on quality. They won’t roll it out unless they know it’s high quality, because their company’s stores are known for quality.
Let’s talk about my experience with a car dealership in Texas. This well-known dealership has been here for years and years; they even wrote a book titled Customers for Life. This company specializes in selling cars, automobiles, according to the principles in their book. My wife and I visited this store personally and see what they’re doing. First of all, they were very proud that their sales representatives, the people selling the cars, had worked there a long time. The person with the shortest time with the company, when we visited, had been there 11 years! Everybody had been selling cars 11 years or more. That’s a quality salesperson, who knows the culture of the company. This dealership offered loaner cars. They had over 200 of them for customers to borrow. If you came in to get your oil changed or maintenance done on your car, and you had to leave your car there, they made it convenient. They didn’t leave you without a car to drive; they provided you with a loaner car. Their customers obviously appreciated this service. When I was there, at about 10:00 in the morning, they had five lanes of people coming in for service. Hundreds came in every day. I saw at least 50 people arrive in just 30 minutes.
This same dealership rolled out other special services to customers. For example, if you bought a car there and you happened to lock your keys in the car, you just call that store. They kept a record and knew your key, and they would deliver a key to you if you are anywhere in the Metropolitan Dallas area, where they are located. You don’t have to worry about who to call, where’s a locksmith to rescue your situation. Can you imagine how happy customers would tell their friends about this key service, and referrals would grow? Unbelievable service! Unbelievable quality!
Lots of big cities like Dallas have wealthy people. As I watched with my wife at this dealership’s service department, we saw many rich people leaving their cars for service. The luxury cars they drove, the way they dressed and handled themselves, lets you know they have great resources. This dealership locked up the market to the wealthy in this region. Their slogan about wanting to be your customer for life, created strong repeat business. Nearly all their customers bought new cars. They realized that a customer would sell, or trade, cars on average about once every three years. So keeping a customer for life meant they expected to sell every single customer a minimum of 10 brand new cars! For over 30 years, their very valuable customers would keep coming back to that quality dealership.
If you have a bakery, you must have quality. If you have a lawn service, you must have quality. If you have any kind of a product to sell, you must have quality. You must have quality from a manufacturing standpoint and from the service standpoint–the ability to take care of the customer. Quality is the foundation for repeat customers, and repeat customers are the foundation for your business success. We hope this is helpful to you. Feel free to share some of these lessons with others. We appreciate your being on board. Thank you.
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