There are lessons in the art of making toast. It’s different if you make it for one or two people on a weekend morning where you can watch the toast brown or when you know your toaster’s characteristics intimately from many years of use than if you make millions of pieces of toast to sell to consumers who’d rather not buy a toaster and make toast themselves.
Once upon a decade, a process specialist and quality guru named Deming tried desperately to warn America’s manufacturing sector that they were at risk from foreign competition, and especially from competition from Japan, if they did not begin to pay attention to improving product quality through better process control . But America’s manufacturing firms were not interested in hearing tales of doom. They were doing just fine, thank you. So Dr. Deming went to Japan. And the manufacturers there really listened.
If you read my previous blog on the customer WOW! experience, you may know where this is heading. The American companies had process problems making perfectly browned toast. If it came out too light, though, they simply put it through the toaster again to get the right color. If it came out too dark, they had machines that would scrape the toast until it looked to be the right color. All of this rework and extra equipment and processing was expensive, of course, but the toast was eventually good enough to put on grocery store shelves. And price wasn’t an issue. They were the only ones offering toast to consumers in the grocery stores. They could charge what they pleased.
The Japanese, on the other hand, had figured out how to toast the bread to the right color the first time, every time, through careful control of the toasting process. No secondary steps if it was too light and no processing through expensive scraping equipment if it was too dark. Just right the first time. Higher consistent quality at consistently lower manufacturing cost. So much lower cost, in fact, that they could afford to ship it all the way to America and put it on store shelves at a slightly lower price than the toast sold by the American companies.
Guess who’s companies prevailed in the marketplace?
This is a true story. It is critically important to spend time, effort and money early in the design phase of a product, and the design of the process by which it will be duplicated in a manufacturing environment, if you are going to be successful long term in your chosen marketplace. The same is true for your marketing efforts. Don’t they deserve careful research, planning and strategy development before you spend time, effort and money on tactics? Of course they do.
Whether you do it yourself or get outside help, do it as right the first time as possible, measure your results, fine tune as needed and get that perfect shade of toast at a price your customers will love. Mmmm.
Your comments, as always, are welcome.
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