Yesterday I brought my wife's car into the shop. The bad news: the
cylinder head gasket is blown; good news: it is covered by the warranty.
But there was a pleasant surprise awaiting me at this dealership. I have
gone to this dealer for the last three years, and it's a great
dealership. But it was only yesterday that I learned they won the
Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for 1993.
If you've ever wondered what Quality Management means for a service
organization, these folks surely have the answer. Every time I've ever
gone there, ever person I've ever dealt with from any department, has
been helpful and friendly in every way. They just ooze customer service,
but it's more than a slogan. After discovering that they'd won the MBNQA
I took some time to just hang around and try to figure out for myself
what makes them different. And of course I chatted with the employees to
try to find the answers.
The courtesy driver, Big John, explained it as well as anyone could: he
doesn't even need the work, he was semi-retired, but it is the nicest
place to work and the nicest group of people he has ever worked with. He
goes to work because he likes to be there. What a statement!
Because it's the end of the year and we're thinking about performance
reviews, I asked whether they had some kind of performance incentives.
And they said yes, there is a premium paid for keeping the Customer
Satisfaction Index up, and also they felt this dealership paid just a
little more than any other dealer in the area. But everyone understood
that this meant they sought the best people for every job and expected
the best service all the time. Cost? Not too much more than their
competition, I'm sure. Result? They are the biggest Cadillac dealer in
six states. (I'd often wondered why I saw them in so many commercials,
now I know.)
The bottom line here is that without exception the workplace atmosphere
and spirit of fellowship (I use that phrase because what I saw
transcends the "teamwork" so popular these days) amongst the employees
is what motivates these people far more than the money. Paying a little
more than the competition, and rewarding people for superior service, is
not so much a matter of the money as it is management paying respect and
tribute to their employees. It's not the money, but the principle of
rewarding superior performance. Treating people fairly and with respect,
recognizing their value and sharing the profits of their labors.
I don't know if this is the result of TQM or what, but it is impressive.
It made my day, I didn't even mind the blown head gasket. Santa's elves
couldn't have provided better service.
Happy Holidays to everyone! Whether this is a religious event for you or
not, I do hope you enjoy the spirit of the season, where we can take a
brief respite to just enjoy what is important about life, and what makes
So Cal Edison
A recent thread has referred to the 911 operators who failed to dispatch
police to the scene where
>>A kid named Ed Polec got beat to death with a baseball bat>>.
This thread has debated whether the system or the individual operators
should be considered at fault in this and like situations. Brian Joiner, in
his book "Fourth Generation Management", suggests that one rule of thumb to
gauge whether poor quality is assignable to individuals (special cause) or
the system (common cause) is to ask:
"If I replaced this employee (or set of employees) with
someone else, could the same problem have happened?"
If the answer to questions like that are yes, then it indicates a system
problem (common cause), not an individual problem (special cause).
In the Polec case being cited, we have an answer to that question. From
what I saw on the news, several different 911 operators responded in nearly
identical fashion to the pleas of callers reporting the incident. Since it
is unlikely this one call center employs all the morons in the world, we
are probably looking at a bad system which only management can rectify.
Having said that, I must confess to being incensed by the operator's
response and that my initial reaction was "Those #@$%^* should be taken out
Quality thinking makes me ask, But would that solve the problem? Or just
make me feel better?
_ ___________________________________ _
/ )| Joe Kilbride -- email@example.com |( \
/ / | Kilbride Consulting | \ \
_( (_ | Downers Grove, IL | _) )_
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