Quality is the most important factor to consider when building a brand. The dwindling global economy has reawakened consumers to demand durable goods - rather than being swayed by exorbitant prices, as used to be the case in the past.
In the first quarter of last year, Buy Me Once was launched, a small website that gave shoppers access to products that were built to last. In less than two months of its inception, this site attracted more than 400,000 visitors. Similar websites have followed the trend.
Entrepreneurs should note that getting your product into the market is a steep hill to climb -especially when there are already close substitutes. The only way to stay afloat of the competition is to gain the trust of the customers through satisfaction. This is the key goal many companies have been finding difficult to achieve. Building a durable product, no doubt, but there are invaluable lessons you can learn that will help you make products that will last:
1. Quality control program should come at the beginning, not at the end
If you wait until the end of the production to commence your quality control program, the damage may have already been done. For example, a single fold unit in the manufacture of an umbrella can take more than 200 parts to achieve. Once the riveting is flawed, or there is a missing spring; nothing can be done to correct these faults after assembly. The only way to fix this defect is to start the production all over since the removal of one of the parts can affect the integrity of the build.
Sequential quality control checks can prevent this nightmare. An effective quality control should begin with establishing quality checks with the manufacturer at the commencement of the process. A successful production is hinged on the early detection of flaws - especially if you are dealing with equipment with numerous components.
No part should be ignored, no matter how insignificant you view them. The unfortunate owners of the ill-fated Samsung Note 7 have attested to this. If you are working with a manufacturer that says quality control can only be done post production, ask if you can implement quality control process for the pre-production. If your manufacturer refuses to this agreement, it is best to find another that will agree.
2. Resist the temptation to compromise
In a bid to reach the goal at the lowest possible price, or simply to maximize profit, many manufacturers are faced with the looming possibilities of compromising their quality to save money or improve the efficiency of their company. In some cases, manufacturers make requests to omit certain materials or aesthetics from the final product to streamline production.
Small compromises may seem too small to be a problem, but as the saying goes, “drop by drop, an ocean is formed,” they will eventually add up to affect the integrity of the final product. Another critical area that cannot be compromised when making a product that will last is the quality of the raw material. To illustrate this, when making an umbrella one may use plated plastic, which by the way is cost effective - or synthetic leather which can be mistaken for the real one. However, they have one thing in common: they will not endure the test of time.
A peek into the life of companies like Calphalon and Gibson will tell you that their success is hinged to their resilience and refuting all urge to compromise their quality. In addition to making use of the best of material, it is important to research into new ways to improve the assembly of your product while keeping in mind the cues that make your product unique. This is where the company needs a vibrant Research and Development team (R&D) focused on making improvements to this area as can be seen in the manufacturing process of Rolex. The action by Rolex is a clear indication of how important manufacturing process is to the life of industries including the most successful of them all. Other ways of improving manufacturing quality include:
Defining the quality from the perspective of the consumer
There are times when the staff of a manufacturing firm desire to make the product better but are oblivious to what that word “better” means to the consumer. Increasing production cost will most certainly make a product better but will it be the kind of “better” the customers are looking out for? In this case, the opinion of some of the consumers can be sampled, or someone in the organization can serve as an advocate for the consumer.
Work as a team and develop a team mindset
Lasting change is easier to achieve when working as a team than as an individual. Another important factor is the knowledge of the process history. In other words, why is the process the way it is? There must have been a reason to why the process is the way it is, and this reason has to be considered critically so that their flaws will not be repeated.
Enlightening the staff on cost multiplier
No matter how expensive it would be to fix a defect in a manufacturing firm, the cost will go higher if it gets to the consumer unfixed. Staff should be trained to understand this cost multiplier, including damage to reputation. Having this information at the back of their mind can keep them committed to the production process.
3. Conclusively solve any arising problem
If you aim to churn out products that will stand the test of time, then you need to deal conclusively with any systemic flaw rather than dealing with the symptoms. Solving any problem can be achieved by adding quality inspection steps. The team should develop ways of determining the root problem that poses a danger to the manufacturing process and creates a solution that will forestall the reoccurrence of such problems.
4. Give your customers an assured guarantee
Across the globe, some companies sell their products on the premise of quality rather than price. A good example is Patagonia. Irrespective of how much energy you have channeled into the creation of your product, there is still going to be occasional defects. When a lifetime guarantee is added to a product, its reliability often receives a boost.
Companies like Briggs & Riley are already offering an unconditional lifetime warranty which gives the customer the guarantee that for a decade or more they will have a great experience from using the product. Offering this warranty may not be an easy target to achieve especially for companies that are just getting off the ground. The fear is that the customers may decide to exploit this opportunity to rip off the company. However, when customers bring their products for repair, it gives the company the avenue to further impress them.
5. Cleaning the work environment regularly
As the raw material is turned into products, waste, often in the form of dust is generated. It is paramount to get rid of them using air hose at least every eight-hour shift so that they do not interfere with the component of the production equipment leading to their malfunction or outright breakdown. Once or twice a month, all the machines or at least the majority of them should be pulled out for a thorough cleaning.
It is pertinent that organizations evade clumsy bureaucracy that stalls innovation, but some structures must be put in place to maintain consistency.
I hope that my article helps you further increase the reach of your awesome products. Is there any other marketing hack you follow to increase the time for which your products stay in market? Feel free to share them with the world through the Comments section below.