Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey – Barefoot Wine Founders

By Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey – Barefoot Wine Founders

Your Brand Promise Depends on Quality Assurance

Your Brand Promise Depends on Quality Assurance 150 150 MIchael and Bonnie Harvey

Quality assurance is just that. Your customer is assured that the products he expects are exactly what he gets. We’ve noticed that despite having the trademark and being the producer, you don’t own your brand or your brand promise. Your customer does—period!

He expects certain dependability, consistency, availability, and quality in your product. His expectations are developed by personal history with your brand, not by your advertising, labeling, and catchphrases. If you, your distributor, your supplier, or even your retailer let him down, he will blame your brand, and start shopping for an alternative. But, the trial-and-error process of finding a new brand creates anxiety and potential disappointment, so he doesn’t really want to shop. Yet, he feels obligated since the quality assurance has faded, and therefore the brand’s promise has been broken.

When your faithful customer wants to depend on your brand, why take the risk? Guarantee him availability, dependability, and quality, and he will never leave. Your brand will be his brand, the one he buys time and time again—and the one he recommends to family and friends!

Quality assurance is a promise to your customer. If it is challenged for any reason, we recommend giving an apology, an explanation of how you will fix it in the future, and, rather than refunding his money, giving your customer more of your products at no charge. This says, “Please give us another chance, and allow us to show we can exceed your expectations.”

Then, put new procedures and policies in place, add clauses to your production agreements, and create a signoff sheet or a new form to improve quality control and reestablish your value in the customer’s mind.

We once incorrectly labeled a 1.5L bottle with a 750ml-bottle UPC code, which is double the volume and almost double the price. This led the retail store to charge customers almost half of what they should have. This particular store had already scanned hundreds of bottles, costing them thousands of dollars in lost profits by the time we found out! We took complete responsibility, despite it being our contracted bottler’s mistake. Our sales manager brought a check to the buyer’s office to cover his losses, fortunately before he was aware of the issue. Not only did we have a check in our hand—we also had a schedule to replace the mislabeled products with properly labeled products. Then, we gave the buyer something even more important—a report of how we would prevent this from happening again. We earned his respect for that, and he gave us an ad then and there. Now that’s quality assurance!

Quality assurance is essential, especially when handling outsourced services, processes, and goods. We were always wondering why some contracts were so long. Our bottling contracts were only 3 pages long when we started Barefoot Wine, but when we sold our brand nineteen years later, our contracts were 37 pages long!

Quality assurance is not an endpoint; it’s a journey. Once you realize your reputation and brand promise are on the line, make sure your company constantly looks for ways to prevent issues from reoccurring. This is the key to persistently improve quality assurance.

Don’t make your brand’s customers cry, “But, you promised!”

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