I’m a big fan of the Discovery Channel show “How It’s Made”. Since 2001, it has been revealing how everyday items such as bubblegum, engines, guitars, baseballs, and snowboards are manufactured. I am fascinated by the number of steps that must be completed consistently in order to produce a quality product. Many of the items featured on the show require both machines and humans to complete over a hundred individual steps in order to create the simple household items we take for granted.
The amount of thought, planning, and engineering the manufacturing process requires is truly amazing. Pulling back the curtain to reveal this process is one of the main reasons that this show has continued to draw audiences for over ten years.
The Big Secret of Success
But there is a BIG SECRET of success that applies to every business that the manufacturing processes documented on this show reveal: In order to be successful, every business must consistently deliver a quality product that meets or exceeds a customer’s wants and desires.
Let’s dissect that secret. It starts with the customer having a want or need that your product must satisfy. I’m assuming that you have done the work required to understand what this “want or need” is, and how to communicate to your customer why you are the only choice for them.
But that is only half of the secret—you must then consistently deliver a quality product that meets or exceeds a customer’s wants and desires. We have all visited businesses where this just isn’t the case. One time you buy from them, and the service or product is great. The next time you buy from them, the service and product are subpar. Nothing confuses a customer more than unpredictable service and product quality. And a confused, disappointed customer stops being your customer!
Adopting a Manufacturing Mindset
Why do many businesses struggle to deliver a quality product? Simple! They don’t have a manufacturing mindset in their business. In order to deliver a quality product time after time, your business must adopt the manufacturing mindset, even if you are not manufacturing a product.
The franchising model that McDonalds perfected took this manufacturing mindset and applied it to the fast food industry. They documented how each step in the sales process was to be done—how the customer is greeted, how the order is recorded, how to sell additional items (the famous and often ridiculed, “Do you want fries with that?”), how the hamburger is actually made, how the meal is bagged, and how it is delivered to the customer. And this is only a handful of the steps that they developed, documented, and trained their employees to do.
The result is that when you go into any McDonalds in the world, you, the customer, have a consistent product delivered to you in a consistent way. It’s not gourmet food, but it isn’t intended to be, and that is not the key to their success. It’s this consistent delivery of a consistent quality product that has made McDonalds the undisputed king of the fast food world.
At this point my clients are usually asking me, “Great—but how does this apply to my small business?” In his classic book The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It, Michael E. Gerber argues that in order for any small business to succeed and grow, they must adapt the franchise model to their business.
(Be sure to see part 2 to discover what a profit-building machine is and why it is vital to run your business in a way that supports your reason for being in business.)