The fabulous bestseller "Customers for Life," originally published by Doubleday in 1990 and written by Carl Sewell and Paul B. Brown, offers some fascinating information. The authors contend that using inspectors to check out the quality of repair work done on cars by their technicians makes their technicians sloppy. They proved that when inspectors make the final check, the people who do the work are more inclined to get careless, knowing someone else will catch any mistakes they make. Factually, inspectors also make mistakes, and experience proved that repairs and results decline when inspectors were added.
Sewell Automotive says their quality of work is now the best it's ever been because people feel more responsible for their work, and they like that responsibility. Their feeling and policy is that if a job has to be redone, the person who made the mistake must fix it, and he shouldn't be paid twice for the same job.
That's only fair, because comebacks hurt not only the customer who is inconvenienced but the company itself. The Sewell people clearly understand that poor workmanship costs everyone involved. The reputation of the dealership is tarnished, and the company still has to pay for the heat, power, water, rent and taxes while they're making the do-over repair for free.
The bottom line is, the technicians are held completely accountable, and as a result, are super-careful. The customers really like the fact that they seldom have to return a car for a do-over. However, Sewell candidly admits that sometimes it's not the technician's fault. As an example, you can install a light bulb, and it can work fine for 24 hours, and then, quit on its own. He says he worked as an inspector and passed many cars that were perfect when they left, but they came back because the repairs did not hold.
Obviously, no organization that sells the number of cars that the Sewell dealerships sells is going to turn every job out perfectly, but they learned long ago that the customer doesn't care what caused the problem or how many people approved the repair. If the work isn't done right, that customer is going to bring the car back.
The good news is, instead of shrugging their shoulders and saying, "Mistakes will happen," the Sewell employees keep careful track of what work has to be redone, and "after we fix the job for the customer, we work to fix the flaw in our systems that allowed the problem to slip through."
Sewell says that's important, because "We found out a long time ago that if we just respond to problems, our quality suffers. Sure, we have to fix problems. But if that's all we do, we're going to keep having the same problems over and over again. It's far more efficient to find out what caused the problem in the first place. We do what's sometimes described as a 'root cause analysis.'"
Thought: That approach will solve problems in the family, school, church, community and even our nation. An example of the effectiveness of this approach is this:
Sewell had a technician who did absolutely wonderful work with one exception. Every time he repaired fuel injectors, he'd never get it quite right. The investigation revealed that he never learned the proper way to do the repair. So, obviously, they got busy and taught him. Sewell quotes Deming, who says, "You can only know what you know." Since they identified the problem and took care of the training, the technician has been near perfect in handling those fuel-injector problems.
Now, everyone's happy — the dealership is happy, the technician is happy and most importantly, the customer is happy. When customers are consistently made happy, they become loyal customers. That's why the Sewell dealerships are so successful. Their goal is to make everyone who comes through their doors a customer for life.
To find out more about Zig Ziglar and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.
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