Your Reputation Hinges on a 50 Cent Part?

April 10, 2009

By Matt Michel

You charge a premium and deliver top shelf service.  Good for you.  Your customers are willing to pay more to do business with you because they perceive the premium is worth it.  The service will be faster.  The troubleshooting will be on target.  The care taken in your home will be more.  The repairs and installations will be better.

But what if the product stinks?  What if product reliability isn’t in line with the quality of your service?  No matter how well you perform, the perception of your quality will suffer if a 50 cent part made on the far side of the planet fails prematurely.  The consumer is going to blame you, not the part.

Buy reliable parts and products for your customers.  Charge more if necessary.  What costs more: putting a service truck at the customer’s home, troubleshooting a problem, and installing a replacement part, or the cost of the part?  The cost of the part is the least of it.

Paradoxically, more reliable products may not cost more.  Reliability is a function of engineering design and manufacturing.  Engineering cannot work in isolation, throwing plans over the wall and letting the factory figure out how to make the stuff.  Design must take manufacturing capabilities into account.  Companies that design for manufacturing and manufacture for repeatability are often the most reliable *and* the most efficient.  Their efficiency results in lower costs.

Of course, the cost savings may or may not get passed along.  A manufacturer may invest the cost savings in new product development, marketing, and so on.

The point is that you cannot assume the most expensive part will be the most reliable.  And yet, part and product reliability are integral parts of your quality.  So what do you do?  Talk with your suppliers about warranty returns.  Keep your own records.  Once you identify the most reliable parts and products, sell them regardless of the price.  The price you pay for reliability is passed along to your customers.  The cost of poor reliability is shared between your customers and you.

Source: Comanche Marketing. Reprinted by permission.
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Copyright © 2008 Matt Michel

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