Defining Quality for Small Business

Quality for the small business doesn’t mean the same thing as for a large organization. Why not? Well, the key difference has to do with size. A large company, with a variety of products or services and lots of resources(like cash), can sometimes afford to provide its customers with less than high quality and still stay in business.

For example, there are big retailers that offer a wide variety of quality goods at competitive prices, but provide poor customer service. Regardless, consumers continue to shop in their stores because of the low prices— they’re willing to put up with poor quality service to get those prices.
I’ll go even further and state that customers have actually come to expect lower quality from large corporations, as long as the corporations make up for it in other ways. We expect some defects. Here are some examples to illustrate this point:
• Cell phone companies drop calls.
• Car manufacturers recall millions of vehicles.
• Home appliances need constant repairs and/or extended warranties.
• Airlines lose luggage.

When defects like these rear their ugly heads, are we surprised? Of course not. And, more often than not, these defects do not prevent us from continuing to patronize these businesses because we derive other benefits from them that mean more to us. For example, maybe your cell
phone company drops calls, but you got a great deal on it from that company.
Or, your car might have been recalled, but it gets great gas mileage.
And, although you had to buy an extended warranty on that dishwasher,
it’s the quietest one on the market. Finally, even though the airline lost
your luggage, it had the best deals on Disney vacation packages! You see
what I mean.
On the other hand, it’s entirely different for the small business. In
most cases, a small business can’t overcome defects in quality. The bottom
line: defects will slowly kill you. They will put you out of business. Do you
agree? If not, you’re in denial. If you don’t eliminate defects, your customers will go elsewhere. You can use Six Sigma to get rid of those defects
once and for all! And the fact is that maybe your competitors will be using
Six Sigma.
I have been trying to sell you on the benefits of Six Sigma. I hope I have succeeded. But before we move on to actually learning how to do it, I want you to pause for a moment and consider the human element of Six Sigma.

Six Sigma is all about identifying and fixing problems that lower costs, improve quality, and raise your bottom line. But businesses are about more than just money; businesses are people. So what are the internal effects of Six Sigma? How will Six Sigma affect your employees and your company’s culture?


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