We all enjoy a performance, a movie or a product more if our prior expectations are exceeded or at least - met.
A smack upside the head is oft needed to bring perspective. A new vendor provided this essential reminder recently.
As a product design firm that also prototypes and manufactures limited runs, we were making some aluminum teaching tools for a new client. We had a four week total manufacturing window and had used the first two for fabrication, a week was left in process for a new anodize vendor and a week for a laser marking vendor. Nice margins that have us delivering on time to satisfied clients.
I met the anodizer and toured the shop. Anodizing is a dirty business that involves a delightful coterie of acids and dyes that are harmful to the unwary. It is apparent to me now, that this industry has participants that are either highly certified for aviation style work; or companies working the cost curve and on the border of having a bad EPA investigation. This firm was likely the latter. Others had informed me they had been in business for 25 years. It appeared so.
The parts delivered, we expected them completed in four days. A week later we had only 30% of the parts. After much gnashing of teeth, a reject rate of 50% and constant re-prep we were finally done. A painful job involving more time than any savings I might have made by using them. After griping considerably I was asked by a friend if I would use them again. Curiously, yes.
On the fourth visit I spied several familiar hi-tech and some current clients' manufacturing work in for anodizing - AHA! The results seemed consistent on the industrial grade work. And the value is there. I would have been helped if someone would have held my hands and-managed my expectations . If someone had said " Sir, cost, quality or speed -- pick one" I could have chosen to go elsewhere or stay put.
I remind myself that my gracious clients allow me to charge in and solve design challenges for them. Trusting that they will get a result they perceive.
Are you doing enough in your industry? Do you have a mechanism for finding out the hidden messages you impart in your brand? This is one of the things that product ethnography can ferret out, and that is another discussion.