You Have a Quality Control Litmus Test

21 Jan

In my last post, I wrote about the Honda dealer that services my car. The Honda dealer has passed my Quality Control Litmus Test. Somebody in the dealership organization is surely monitoring quality and verifying that customers are getting high-quality service. It must be working—they have earned a good reputation and my loyalty.

A litmus test is a question that can be answered in a stark and obvious manner. The answer removes all doubt. For example, you may ask, “Mark, do you know how to write?” I can respond with, “Yes, I wrote the blog you are currently reading.” You should be convinced, beyond any reasonable doubt, that I passed your litmus test.

I am taking the litmus test one step further. I am asking you to identify and embrace a “Quality Control Litmus Test.” The Quality Control Litmus Tests tells you that the product or service you are receiving has great quality.

Everybody has such a test. This test activates when you’re at a restaurant eating a fine dinner. You say, “This is a great dinner. I am 100% convinced this is a great dinner.” When you visit an auto dealer and sit in a brand-new $116,000 car, you may say, “This is a great car. I am 100% convinced this is a great car.” When you see a play and review the plot, acting, costumes, lighting, and seating, you may say, “The entire production is great. I am 100% convinced this is a great production.” Your vendors should pass your Quality Control Litmus Test like the Honda dealership passes mine.

Your company should pass your Quality Control Litmus Test too. You set high standards for your quality control, tell the world, and then meet those standards. I’m sure you’ve seen other companies embrace methodologies or promote slogans. Corporations promote Six Sigma in their manufacturing processes. Likewise, I tell customers that technologies I sell work 99.999% of the time. My industry calls this “5-9s,” which basically means that something is highly reliable. As another example, Zenith Electronics Corporation started a very successful campaign in 1927. Perhaps you remember their “The quality goes in before the name goes on” campaign. It implies that unless the product meets the company’s quality standard, the product does not warrant the name of the company and would not be allowed to leave the factory. Zenith only wanted their name associated with a quality product.

You can embrace one of the methodologies or slogans from the previous paragraph. You can also tell people why your service is great and why they should therefore do business with you.

You can start small—start by showing up at work on time. Comb your hair and make sure your shirt is clean. Polish your shoes. My friends in the military tell of a “spit shine,” where they polish their shoes, spit on them, and then polish them again. I do a spit shine. People notice shiny shoes—they reflect well on you. When I meet someone with neat hair, a clean shirt, and shiny shoes, I usually end up doing business with that person. The opposite is also true.

Apply your Quality Control Litmus Test to your work product. Create a checklist for your work, perform the checklist, and then present that completed checklist to the customer. I’ve been maintaining computers and building networks for 19 years. I still complete checklists and present them to customers when I finish projects.

I had an emergency at a customer’s site the other day. The network stopped working. I drove to the office and identified the culprit as a failed switch. A network switch is a device that acts like the hub of a bicycle wheel—all the cables connect to it. If the switch dies, your computers stop talking to each other. I replaced the switch, tested Internet access, and tested printing. I had the boss test everything he needed to access. All tests were positive. He thanked me for the prompt response.

Twenty-four hours later, I called the customer. I asked how the network was behaving. I already knew. I identified the culprit the day before and removed it from service—I deployed a solution that worked. I did not receive any calls the next day from that customer, but I decided to call anyway. The boss reported that everything was working. The boss, like everybody else, has a Quality Control Litmus Test, and I believe my response and solution earned a “great” label in his estimation.

For whatever products or services you offer, identify how you can set high quality standards and then meet them. Make sure your customers know you met the high standards.


Mark Anthony Germanos is the author of two books, Escape the Cubicle: How to leave your corporate or government job for something better and How to Make Computer Systems Work for You. He has faith in a slow but sure Sacramento business revival. Sacramento small business owners are leading the way. His second book, Escape the Cubicle, is for those who want to escape cubicle jobs and become successfully self-employed. Escape the Cubicle answers the questions: "How can I grow my business" and "How do I become my own boss."

Mark is the President of Cameron Park Computer Services. As a business owner and computer networking consultant, he has seen habits that successful Sacramento small business owners embrace. He helps Sacramento small business owners embrace those habits to increase their profits, efficiency and happiness. An advocate of Sacramento business revival, Mark believes everybody should run their lives like a small business, perform SWOT Analyses and use social media campaigns to improve business. He used to say “social media is stupid.” That was until he attended a conference and saw how Sacramento small business owners can use social media campaigns as a valuable tool. Since then, he has earned more than $40,000 in business via social media. His Sacramento small business clients also have five-figure returns. Sacramento small business owners that launch social media campaigns give themselves a comparative advantage over those who lag behind. Mark does not do everything, but his clients do receive great results and participate in the Sacramento business revival when they follow his advice.

Mark moved from Chicago and restarted his business in California with a cell phone and a Honda Civic. An active triathlete, he has a life, a dream wife and a dog. For additional details, visit Twitter: Facebook: LinkedIn:


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