By John Kariuki
According to Murphy's Law, if anything can go wrong, it will. When applied to business systems, this law lays bare the fact that if there is a possibility that several things will go wrong, often the one that will cause the most damage will often be the first to go wrong. And this may bring with it loss of revenue and integrity.
Infact, there are numerous examples of firms who have been forced to recall products after things go wrong.
Aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing routinely recall aeroplanes to fix defective parts whenever the flaw is noticed. Carmakers Ford and Toyota recently recalled thousands of units to rectify faulty parts. Pharmaceuticals giants have also been known to withdraw contentious medicines off chemistsâ shelves once they notice a defect. And locally, petroleum dealers often recall products that get accidently adulterated, and replace them with the right fuels.
But while multinational and supranational businesses might recall faulty products and apologise for the inconvenience, it is a different matter with some small enterprises. Some business owners invoke the âgoods once sold cannot be returnedâ rule at the slightest suggestion that a product is defective.
For example, scores of shopkeepers have a ready answer whenever they are presented with queries of moldy bread.
"I donât bake bread but only sell it," they will say, even though they are well aware the sell by date has passed when they sell it to you.
Other traders hit the roof if clients returning flawed mobile phones, cameras, DVD players and so on, and declare that they are not ready to suffer the loss because they too received the products, and had no prior test of them.
"Why did you leave this shop without testing the product?" they ask, glowing in their apparent genius.
At this time, the traders will adopt a tough, non-friendly stance and will distance themselves from their businesses. They try to separate their corporate from individual selves when things go bad, committing the ultimate business sacrilege. And they will adopt this hard stance even when they can return the defective products to their suppliers for onward transmission to the manufactures.
But what these businesspeople forget is that in the modern business world, great tact is useful when dealing with product defects. This is especially so for products that could harm oneâs customers.