I’m currently taking a class on Total Quality Management, which is a business practice based on the idea that if you improve the quality of every facet of your business, the end result will be lower costs and higher profits. The class discussions have me thinking a lot lately about the quality of work I see in businesses I frequent. Take for instance, lunch. I’m not as conscientious as I should be about making my own lunch. Even though I usually would rather bring lunch than buy it, I’m most often too lazy to make a lunch at night. I end up buying a sandwich at one of three places near my office. The first is my daily coffee shop, Espresso Royale. I like their coffee. The staff know me and know what I want. And they make good sandwiches. They’ve earned my continued patronage because they achieve quality in all aspects. But they don’t always have sandwiches available. On those days I can either go next door to Subway, or one more door to Silver Mine Subs. I’ve written about Silver Mine Subs before.¬†Of the two, Silver Mine is far better. The staff at Subway (the one near my office, at least) are usually dour and act like it’s such a pain to have to make sandwiches. Their final product reflects that. The sandwiches are usually skimpy and poorly made. On the other hand, the staff at Silver Mine are usually quite friendly and even jovial. They joke around a lot and work quickly, but their sandwiches are always well made and generous. Accordingly, they have earned my repeat business.

This past winter my beloved BMW 740iL blew out its coolant expansion tank. The expansion tanks and radiators in the BMW 4.4 liter engines have a design flaw which causes them to crack every 70k miles or so. Poor quality in an otherwise high quality car. Because my expansion tank blew right down the street from the local BMW dealer, I had the car towed there. I normally have my cars serviced at Isringhausen Imports in Springfield, Il, but that was 80 miles away. So despite my better judgment, I let the local dealer work on my car. I should have paid the extra to have it towed to Springfield. My car was in and out of the local dealer’s shop every day for the next two weeks. In the end I feared they had damaged my engine so badly that I traded the car in on a newer X5. At Isringhausen, of course. Isringhausen has always done quality work, they always find me an almost new loaner car, and they’re quick to address any concerns I have. I always feel I’ve gotten a fair deal from my salesman, Jeff Colman, from whom I’ve bought 3 cars. Isringhausen exudes quality. The local dealer has lost my business forever.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling a $4 sandwich or a $40,000 car; quality will keep people coming back and ensure a continued income. I’m just amazed that so many businesses lacking in quality manage to survive.