Auto Service World
Feature   February 1, 2003   by CARS Magazine

Quality that’s good enough

I hear it time and time again: "Good enough is not good enough". Nonsense. People who use that expression are really saying "do good work". It's used so often, the term has become almost meaningless. ...


I hear it time and time again: “Good enough is not good enough”. Nonsense. People who use that expression are really saying “do good work”.

It’s used so often, the term has become almost meaningless. We’re essentially assaulted by it in advertising and in day to day conversation. Of course, the term is “quality”. This word, in my opinion, had been so overused that it should be retired, or at least curtailed until the ad copy writers use it more fully understand what it means. To me, quality is one measure of the accuracy and precision of a part or a task. That’s an engineering definition, but the key is to stop thinking of quality in our sector as “doing the best job that’s possible”. Why? Because if we were to do the best possible work in every case, we’d be out of business in a hurry. That, however, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t deliver the best quality possible. Let me explain by way of a couple of examples. I know someone who sells natural fibres in large bundles for the textile trade. One of the measures of product quality is the amount of moisture, which is important because the product is sold by weight. He uses a specially designed machine to add water to the product to bringing it up to the contractually agreed limit, increasing the weight of the bundles. Ethical? Yes, so long as the moisture content is what the contract says it should be. Similarly, porting and polishing the heads on my TR-8 makes sense, but what about my wife’s Civic? In that case, an out-of-the-wrapper reman head is good enough. I hear it time and time again: “Good enough is not good enough”. Nonsense. People who use that expression are really saying “do good work”. “Good enough” should mean exactly that. “Quality” by my definition is delivering exactly what the customer wants in the fastest, most efficient way that maintains the standards that he or she expects. A Burger King Whopper is a quality product because in my mind it represents good value and matches my expectations for a fast-food hamburger. It’s not steak, and it would be wrong to make that comparison. The “apples to oranges” comparison is the other way the word quality has been corrupted. White box brakes, for example, may represent “quality” at a $69.95 price point, but should that quality level exist for a safety-critical service? Probably not. On the other hand, I don’t need or want to pay for slotted and cross-drilled rotors on the aforementioned ’89 Civic. That’s a waste of money, and is an example of a poor quality job. Give the people what they want (keeping safety in mind) no more, no less, do it efficiently and you have a thriving business. Upsell safety? Absolutely. Refuse to do a safety-critical job halfway at discount pricing? Of course. But don’t suggest that tiered service menus or labour rates represent lower, better and higher quality. Every service you provide should represent a quality choice, whether it’s steak or hamburger.


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