“Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten.”
Not our words, but the words of Aldo Gucci, whose father created what has become one of the most luxurious brands in the world.
At techair we don’t claim to sell luxury products, but that doesn’t mean we don’t recognise that quality is key when it comes to being the best on the market. Whether that’s our products themselves or the service we provide, quality is at the core of every part of our operation.
In our latest Q&A, techair operations manager James Keep explains exactly what quality means to techair and why it’s so important in standing out from the crowd.
What does quality mean at techair?
“Quality is one of our core values, it’s incredibly important,” says James. “It means we supply products that are good quality, that last, and that customers can be happy with.” Confidence in the quality of its products is what’s behind techair’s lifetime warranty, which means if there is any manufacturing defect with a bag or case, it will be replaced.
But quality doesn’t stop at the products, says James. It’s about the level of service too. “It’s something that everybody in the company should try to achieve in our work, from dealing with customers to delivery of goods and communication. Customers will come back to us not only because the products they get are good quality but because the service is good quality too.”
How does techair maintain high quality?
The key is ensuring that the focus on quality runs through every part of the company, says James. “It’s about making sure everyone buys into the ethos that quality is important. That everyone who comes into the company works to a certain standard, that they care about the work they’re doing and are ensuring that it is offering the level of service that we think the customer should get.”
Another key is building long-term relationships with reliable suppliers who understand the focus on quality. “We work closely with a number of suppliers, whether it’s in manufacturing or logistics, and we’ve worked closely with them for a long time – some for 15-plus years – so we’ve built up good relationships with them. It’s the same with our supply chain. We work with suppliers that we’ve worked with for a number of years and who understand how we want to work. We have regular reviews with them to ensure they’re keeping to our service level agreements which we have in place with them within the contracts we have with them.”
Maintaining quality means constant analysis and testing. Techair has quality control teams based with its manufacturers in the Far East. They are present when products are being built and when they’re being inspected to ensure factories are adhering to production specifications and providing the right levels of quality.
“All components, from zips to clips, are tested by third-party, independent testing companies before they’re used in our products,” says James. “We then have inspections during production and during shipping to make sure the goods conform to specific quality requirements. If they don’t, the goods don’t ship. They get repaired and rebuilt until they meet the quality controls.”
Analysing quality for the customer
All returns to techair are monitored closely, with any faults recorded so they can be analysed. “We aim to adhere to an industry-leading low level of returns and do have returns levels far below the industry standard, but we analyse everything right down to component level,” says James. “We record exactly what the fault is and if we see faults get above a certain threshold we investigate that issue with the manufacturer.”
On top of that, techair has its own internal processes to ensure quality runs through every part of the service, from confirming receipt of a purchase order, to communicating information to customers about their orders – all part of maintaining a high level of quality.
What are the challenges when it comes to quality?
The hardest thing when it comes to quality is dealing with unforeseen circumstances – especially in a year like 2020. And with a complicated supply chain manufacturing and bringing goods from China to the UK there can be plenty of those, says James.
Challenges can range from ensuring suppliers stick to their agreements and use the materials and specifications that have been set, to shipping and delivery issues and lengthy lead times. “You need to know what potential pitfalls to look out for. If you find out about things too late you can’t do anything about it. You have to try to keep on top of the potential problems so they don’t become a surprise when you do a final inspection of the goods.”
“Those kind of things are out of your control so you have to factor potential problems into production lead times and the lead times you’re advising to your customers. That way if these kind of occurrences do happen they’re not going to impact your customers too much. Making your customers aware of these pitfalls is all part of providing that quality service. It’s important that we have internal processes and work with trusted partners to make sure the things we can control are as they should be.”
Why is quality so important?
It’s simple, really, says James. “In our industry customers can essentially buy the same product at the same price off lots of different people and one of the few things you can control to set yourself apart is the quality, whether it’s the quality of the product, the quality of the people that work within your company or the quality of the service that you’re giving to people.
“It can take you a long time to win a customer and it doesn’t take long to lose them if you don’t keep your standards high.”
Like Mr Gucci said, it’s the quality that people remember.