There's a reason assembly lines work so well. They're the result of carefully-crafted procedures that turn out the same quality product each time. If your business doesn't have similar protocols in place, you'll get the opposite result. Worse, you won't know how to refine your processes to achieve even better quality in the long run.
So how do you ensure consistent quality in a businesss? Here are a few strategies that have worked for me over the years.
From filing the appropriate documents for your business to testing your products for safety and uniformity, regulatory control is an essential part of running a business. Even if you don't manufacture chemicals or perform medical procedures, your processes need to have some form of oversight.
You must also create internal policies and procedures for document control, recordkeeping, and compliance assurance. If an auditor walks into your office tomorrow, can you prove that your business abides by all OSHA regulations? If not, you need better develop and implement internal controls.
From onboarding to introducing new technology, employee training ensures consistency and quality in every facet of commerce. To ensure you cover all learning styles, consider offering training that incorporates audio/visual content as well as written text.
You can bring in expert speakers, create online courses that your employees complete at their own pace, and allow mentorships to form within your team. Make sure you conduct regular performance evaluations to determine whether your workers meet your expectations. Poor performance could indicate the need for extra training or a new roll.
Supply Chain Management
Even if a mistake traces back to a third-party mistake, you'll still have to answer for it when your customers send angry letters or demands a refund. Substandard materials, poor workmanship, and shipping delays throughout the supply chain can dramatically impact your reputation in the industry.
Work only with vendors you trust. If possible, get a personal referral from someone you know in your industry so you're not choosing a name at random from Google search results. I've known many entrepreneurs whose businesses have been set back months or even years because of partnering with the wrong vendor, so don't skimp on research and validation.
Healthy competition can raise the bar in the workplace and encourage employees to give their best performance. Plus, the victors get positive reinforcement at the end, which makes them want to work even harder.
You don't have to buy winners a new car or send them on lavish vacations. Small prizes, such as a gift certificate to a local restaurant or a few hours of flex time, can boost morale more than you expect.
Time to Market
Consistency and quality walk hand-in-hand. Without consistency, quality doesn't matter because your customers won't know what to expect.
I caution entrepreneurs against taking their products and services to market too quickly. A valid prototype is a cause for celebration, but you need to make sure it's replicable and stable before you display it on store shelves.
You might not think of your business as an assembly line, but it needs to operate that way. Over time, you'll tinker with the details to improve quality, but you'll still have a consistent baseline that benefits everyone, from your most junior employees to your most high-valued customers.
For more insights into business, quality, and consistency, don't forget to friend me on Facebook. I've built a supportive network of entrepreneurs like you who love to help one another succeed as their own bosses.
This article was originally published as 4 ways to ensure consistent quality in your small business on www.succeedasyourownboss.com