When times are tough, most business owners look for ways to cut back on expenses.  Unfortunately, one of the first things to often go are their marketing efforts.  This is a bad idea.  After all, how are people going to find out about their products or services now?  This can put a struggling business out of operation very quickly or at least in dire need of a business turnaround.

One of the next critical elements to be reduced or eliminated is product and service quality.  Some business owners believe that trimming quality is an easy and unnoticeable way to get their business back on its feet.  However, just like ignoring market research, diminishing quality simply accelerates the downward spiral for any struggling business for a variety of reasons.

Regardless of the situation, here’s why product and service quality cannot be sacrificed.

Quality Should Not Be Confused with Pricing

The first thing to understand is that quality should not be confused with pricing.  Providing a high-quality product or service does not directly translate to high prices for customers.  Instead, it means offering a product or service that exceeds the quality standards of a business’s specific industry or market.  It means providing high quality relative to the chosen industry.

Take Walmart, for instance.  If Walmart’s electronics competed with Best Buy’s, Walmart’s quality would be laughable.  Yet, that’s not the market Walmart is going after, and Best Buy is not one of Walmart’s direct competitors.  However, when you view Walmart’s products relative to the industry in which they’ve chosen to position themselves, discount retail, their quality is often superior.

Therefore, quality is not about pricing but rather about perspective.

Quality Is a Reflection of Your Entire Business

Quality goes far beyond the costs a business’s products or services.  In fact, it is a reflection of your entire business, from customer service to team culture.  Oftentimes, it’s how a business captures its customers in the first place.

Cutting back on quality says something to the public, namely a business’s competitors and customers.  It says that if a business is willing to decrease quality, which ultimately lands in the hands of customers, then who knows what else that business might be cutting back on behind the scenes.

It is a screaming red flag that your business is no longer trustworthy or simply worthy of your customers’ business.  And, it’s why product and service quality cannot be sacrificed.

Customers Will Notice a Drop in Quality Immediately

It can actually be impressive the amount of work that sometimes goes into reducing quality for a product or service.  A business will unwisely spend so much of their time carefully planning each and every change to lower quality and save money, in hopes that its customers, suppliers, and competitors will fail to notice.

To save these businesses a lot of wasted resources, just stop.  Customers will notice a drop in quality immediately.

It doesn’t matter if it’s cheaper hardware, reduced customer support, or less software customization, customers can sniff a lack in quality from a mile away.

Quality Sends a Message to Employees

The necessity to provide a high-quality product or service is not just for the people outside of an organization.  In fact, quality sends a message to a business’s employees.

When a business owner or other top-level management begins to accept a lower level of quality, employees take notice.  Similar to customers, employees begin to wonder what’s going on behind closed doors.  They may begin to worry about their jobs and seek employment elsewhere.  Or even worse, they may experience internal conflict with themselves, as they begin to question their own ethics and morals in producing a lower-quality product with the same price tag.

These are just a few of the reasons why product and service quality cannot be sacrificed.  A struggling business will never dig themselves out of a hole by reducing quality.  In reality, doing so will just make the hole even bigger, faster.

For performance-based business consulting, contact The Business Turnaround Group.

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