How Do Small Businesses Develop Quality Control?
You must have a system for quality control if you want to create a world-class business that is sellable. In fact, the survival of your company depends on your ability to produce a quality product or service.
Quality Control: How Do You Define It?
How does a small or mid-size business achieve quality control? First, you have to define what “quality” really means in your business.
Most industries have quality standards. It is typical for an industry to have an association or trade group that sets quality standards against which companies can measure the quality of their product or service.
You can create your own statistical definition (or metric) by which you measure your products or services. There are even international standards of quality set for most industries by the International Organization for Standardization.
However, I think the best measure, particularly for small business, is simply this
“Are we meeting our customers’ expectations such that they want to come back?”
Akin to that is this question:
“Are my customers referring their friends and colleagues to my company?”
My favorite quality control tool is the “Ultimate Question.” I use this tool all the time in various formats. This one question will tell you instantly what you need to know to assure that you have good quality control. The ultimate question is simply this: “On a scale of 0-10 (with 10 being highest), how likely are you to refer your friends or colleagues to our company?”
By asking this simple question you will get a “Net Promoter Score” which will tell you if your customers are promoters, neutral, or detractors. This will tell you how they perceive your quality! It doesn’t matter if you think you have quality control; what matters is if your customers think you do.
Quality Control: How Do You Maintain It?
The goal of every small business should be to create a business system that is profitable, consistent, and predictable. As a business owner, you want your business to run just as well when you are away as it does when you are present.
Your business must be able to perform successfully without you or else you do not have a sellable business! This requires that you maintain quality control. And now you’ve defined it, but how do you make sure you keep it going?
I recommend that business owners institute a system for feedback (like the Ultimate Question), and then create a plan for continuous improvement. A simple technique is to take a Strategic Retreat every 90 days to review and assess your feedback.
Once you as the owner have reviewed it, have your team review and assess it as well. Then brainstorm as a team on ways to improve your processes so that you will not only meet but exceed your customers’ expectations.
If quarterly seems to frequent, then take your team on an annual or semi-annual retreat to accomplish this task. Plan together so everyone “owns” the process and the vision.
Quality Control Will Not Happen Without Intentionality
As products and services evolve, consumer expectations tend to increase so that yesterday’s quality product becomes tomorrow’s junk. Every small and mid-size business MUST have a plan for quality control and continuous improvement.
- What goals have you set?
- How are you involving your employees/team so that they own this goal?
- What is your system for continuous improvement?
I hope you will be intentional. Take action today. Need encouragement, ideas, resources, and accountability? Contact a trusted business coach!