Yes, Quality is everything, and actually, it is in everything a company does. From the way you answer the phone, to the way you present your quotes, to the way you package your product, to the way your sales person looks and acts, to every single thing large, or small, that your company does for the customer.
A good and astute customer will be looking for quality in everything you do all the time. He will notice everything about your company from the look of your parking lot, the outside of the building, to your lobby, to you conference room, to your entire facility, all of it adds up to your overall quality picture.
Let me give you a few bad examples:
I once visited a company whose offices were a mess. There was coating of dust on everything, there were ashtrays, actual ashtrays, filled with cigarette butts, who knew how old those were? And the calendars on the wall were of scantily clad women! But that wasn’t the worst part…the calendars were at least five years old.
And, this was at that time a working board shop in western Florida, whose owner wanted my help selling that shop. I did not sell it, obviously, and they went out of business a few months later. What were they thinking? Did they really think someone would buy them? Were they really wondering why they weren’t getting orders anymore?
I visited a shop whose restroom, the public one, mind you, the one that customers were using, was a complete disaster. There were six urinals and three were broken and had been broken for so long that the plastic that they had duct taped over them was yellowed with age. There were no paper towels in the paper towel holders, and the room smelled just horrible. When I asked the owner about it he gave me a blank look and asked me, “what does have got to do with us making boards?” Gee I wonder.
Then, I went to shop once that had an ugly soggy sodden queen-sized mattress on the ground just below the loading dock. When I pointed that out to the owner he looked at me like I had two heads.
By the way, you don’t have to worry, I’m not talking about your shop, these companies wentl out of business a long time ago. Not a surprise, that.
Okay, so those were the worst cases I’ve seen in my too long career in this crazy industry, but there is still a strong message here about quality to get back to my original point and that is that quality is everywhere and in everything you do.
One of the issues that has come up the past few months is that of documentation. As boards get more sophisticated, so does the paperwork, which in turn means that the quality of the paperwork is now as important as the quality of the board. A board shipped with the wrong documentation, is as unusable as a board that is delaminated, or a board that is late. The paperwork, just like the board itself, must be perfect.
The problem is that many people don’t get this. They build an extremely difficult board, practically kill themselves to get it out on time, get it to shipping with moments to spare, get it boxed up just in time for that hugely expensive Fed Ex overnight delivery, and then breath a huge sigh of relief as they watch the truck drive away with their hot, high tech very expensive, board.
Then the next day get an irate call from the customer, the one who paid premium quick turn money, the one who paid for that expensive overnight delivery, and now, alas the one who cannot use the boards, because they cannot be received because…well you choose: the packing slip does not match the invoice; the board count is wrong, there is no C of C, there are no coupons, the boards were sent to the wrong receiving dock, the mil-prf-31032 documentation is wrong or missing, and guess what? That customer is going to have to hold up the boards and hold up that assembly line until the you can send them the right paperwork, and the boards can be properly received into his system. And, all of that is for a normal weekday delivery date. You can just imagine how ugly it gets if the customer has brought in a crew on a Saturday specifically to work on those boards! And of course, because it is Saturday, your shop is closed so he is not going to be able to have you fix the issues until Monday. And to make matters even worse he still has to pay that very expensive crew for at least our hours of their time. That can get very ugly. And we wonder why people ask me why board shops suck?
Everything, and I mean everything, is important including the documentation that goes with your boards. Its all part of good customer service and good business practices. Now, more than ever your shipping department is as important as every other department in the company if not more so. Remember that, and take it seriously, very seriously. It’s only common sense.