Quality and Consistency are so deeply tied to each other that they practically act as one measurement.
These two elements of business make up the middle portion of our Pyramid of Need that we’re studying in depth.
For those who haven’t been reading along, the Pyramid of Need is a device we use at Newberry Consulting to help our clients understand just what it is that drives customers to your business and how to identify the areas where your business could use some help.
So, Quality and Consistency…considering how closely tied together these two are, we’re going to tackle them together in today’s blog.
It should go without saying that a high level of quality in your product is an absolute necessity to attract and keep customers. This level of quality is relative to your product, its cost, and its scarcity.
For example, a banana is a banana. When I buy groceries, I never look at the label of a banana. I look at whether or not the banana is too green or over ripe. That’s it. If the banana looks good, it will be a banana of acceptable quality. I don’t go to the store looking for heirloom varietals of bananas. I just go to get bananas.
It’s easy for a banana to satisfy my criteria for quality.
On the other hand, I’m extremely picky about the beer I buy and drink. I spend considerable time in the beer section of our local grocery store examining new products, labels, and even looking up information on an unknown beer on my phone.
It’s important to remember that, personal preferences aside, beer is much more expensive per unit than bananas. It’s also more of a recreational product. We don’t need beer, but we like beer. Therefore, we expect a higher level of quality considering its cost and recreational utility.
When I finally select a beer to purchase and take home, I have high expectations for the quality of what comes out of that bottle or can. I have poured most of a six pack down the drain because the product did not meet the level of quality that I thought it should.
It’s much more difficult for beer to satisfy my criteria for quality than it is for bananas.
If I know there’s a limited release beer hitting the market, the scarcity of that product ratchets up my expectations of its quality. The bar that beer must meet gets much higher with higher cost and increased scarcity.
The disappointment from a bad beer that is both expensive and scarce is much more poignant than for, say, Pabst Blue Ribbon.
When considering the level of quality that your product demands, it’s a safe bet to say that the highest level of quality attainable within the constraints of budget is what a manufacturer of any product should seek. Furthermore, scarcity will increase the perception of quality for your product and you will have to take great care to ensure that your product meets this perceived level of quality .
I want to say one more thing regarding quality.
Lowering your product quality and, as a result, the price per unit of your product is a fools errand and a game that is rarely won. This practice is a race to the bottom and the risk with this strategy is that you’ll win.
There are certainly risks to placing quality above everything, as well.
When I was managing kitchens, the debate about the quality of our raw materials was always raging. Should we be buying more locally? How would that impact our prices? Would people pay that much for this product? What is a reasonable level of ingredient quality for a sandwich that costs $10?
The constant push and pull of this debate is one that every business owner must contend with and striking the right balance is unique to each individual business and business owner.
However, by evaluating your pricing structure, understanding your margins, and communicating with your customers, it should be relatively easy to come to a conclusion regarding what you can afford to spend on materials.
This will give you the information you need to decide where you’re going to invest your resources and what level of quality your business can afford to provide.
The flip side of this is that, if you find that your business can’t afford high enough quality ingredients, you then know that you have another, more systemic problem with your business like pricing too low, poor marketing, or simply revenue that doesn’t sustain the business operations.
Once you’ve understood and executed on the necessary quality of your product, there is one more element that will make or break a customers experience with your business altogether.
That element is Consistency.
Have you ever gone to a restaurant and had an amazing meal? Have you ever gone back to the same restaurant only to find that the same meal didn’t live up to the expectations set by the previous meal?
If the answer is yes, then you have experienced the one of the major failings and perhaps most difficult problems to mitigate that any business has to contend with.
The quality of your product will be completely overshadowed by even small fluctuations in the consistency of that product and its delivery to your customers.
Once you’ve established the foundation of your business with Service, Convenience, and Value and you’ve ensured that your Quality level meets or exceeds the expectations of your customers, you have to deliver every single one of those elements to your customers with painstaking consistency.
I can’t think of any other factor that can destroy the reputation of a business and dry up a customer base faster than inconsistency.
How do you ensure that you’re able to deliver this high level of consistency?
First, your business needs strong SOP’s.
You must provide detailed instructions on everything from preparing a recipe to cleaning a bathroom. These instructions should be accompanied by multimedia, if possible, displaying what a satisfactory execution of a task looks like.
The process of developing these SOP’s can take a long time and will probably be subject to somewhat frequent updates and changes. My recommendation is that you start slow, identify the areas where SOP development is most urgent, and take it one at a time.
If you commit to developing 1-2 SOP’s per week and complete them in order of urgency, you will find that you’ve completed most of the work over the span of just a couple of months.
The key is committing to doing the work and ensuring that there is a high level of detail executed in each SOP.
Second, your business must have management that is capable, both mentally and emotionally, of both administering these SOP’s and correcting with the appropriate level of discipline when standards are not met.
So much of a business taking advantage of its full potential rests on the back of a strong management team. This is one of the areas that I examine with the most scrutiny in each business that I work with.
Management is the glue that holds all of the elements of running a business together. Without capable management your business will simply hobble along, at best.
Quality and Consistency are everything.
Consistency in Service, Value, Convenience, and Quality will transform your customers from one-time to lifetime business for your company.
At Newberry Consulting, I offer an intensive management training option that will ensure that your managers have the tools to not only managing the day to day operations of your business, but that they are also proficient in team building and Emotionally Intelligent management practices.
If you’d like to talk more about doing training for your management team, click the button below to schedule a 30 minute phone call with me.
It’s free and I promise not to hard sell you anything.
My goal is to cultivate sustainable and strong locally owned and operated businesses in the communities I work with. Schedule a time to chat today and I’ll do my very best to help make that a reality for your small business.