Volume 39,  Issue 12,  December 2004


The T-Shirt
    Giving Quality and Service at the Same Time

by Dez Farnady

The success of any business enterprise depends on the quality of its service. We grew up in the industry listening to our bosses and our peers preach service, service and service. We believe it is the backbone of any successful shop or contracting operation, even if it does get a bit annoying when corporate management has us listen to consultants who make a mint out of preaching it to us as a panacea. As if we didn’t already know! We are brainwashed with glib phrases and clichés like “service with a smile” and “service is our business” until they are coming out of our ears. So, OK. But there are also other considerations.

Service Versus Quality
Just about the time we get through accepting our responsibility for servicing our customers, we are told that it is all about quality. If the quality of the product does not stand up to the scrutiny of the picky customer we are servicing the daylights out of, we are called slackers and told that the competition is going to kick our butts. Product quality is essential in both the material you use and the way in which you put it together. Quality workmanship is the hallmark of the good glazier as well as the good fabricator.

So, is service or quality the prime objective? 

I can understand the customer who wants to feel cared for. I can also understand that he wants the best service he is entitled to as well as the best product available. We strive to provide and to do both, not only accommodate the customer but also to retain the business for the long term. This builds a reputation for both excellent service and premium quality. 

"Product quality is essential in both the material you use and the way in 
which you put it together. Quality workmanship is the hallmark of the good glazier as well as the good fabricator.

Then the customer comes back and says “but it’s too expensive!” Well, the service is great and the product is outstanding, but he feels it is a little too much money? Excuse me?

Give ‘Em What they Want
The competitive marketplace requires us to have the lowest price every time or we do not get the order. In the “older” days glass shops still stocked a lot of raw window glass in cases. As a matter of routine, the shops would call at least three distributors before buying a small case of single strength in order to save a half of a penny on the square foot price—that’s $25 on a case they would sell piecemeal for $2,000 to $3,000. And then, when is it you are going to deliver it? And, can your boom driver put it behind the case I just bought from your competitor? Oh, it’s only in the upstairs warehouse behind the washroom; it will just take an extra minute or two.

Cut-size raw glass and custom tempered are still being nickel-and-dimed by the glazing contractors, even though the stuff is now selling for less than what I sold it for, to retailers, more than 30 years ago. 

The customer wants the best quality product he can get. He wants me to blow my brains out serving every whim. Then he has the nerve to want it cheap? Can you imagine walking into a Ferrari dealership and demanding the service it offers while expecting to get it for the price of a used Corvair? Well, that seems to be the style today. There are guys who go into the discount store and expect to buy the top of the line. They shop the daylights out of nine pieces of quarter-inch, clear tempered for shelving and grind you for “your best price.” Then want to know why you can’t deliver it to the top of the Empire State Building, washed, with holes drilled and the edges polished. And, by the way, we need 50 cent corners and any chance you can get it there before three this afternoon? 

What brought on this tirade was a T-shirt a friend of mine recently wore. On the shirt my friend’s company logo is surrounded by the caption “Quality, Price, Service, pick any two.” Easy for him, he owns the company. 

the author
Dez Farnady serves as general manager of Royalite Manufacturing Inc., a skylight manufacturer in San Carlos, Calif. His column appears monthly.


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