The subject of corporate accountability associated with product recalls affects businesses from small, family-owned operations to the most well-known and recognized corporate entities. A manufacturing error, a failure to warn consumers of a potential danger in the use of a product, a tainted food product, or a faulty design can lead to a product recall and many product liability claims. A safety recall is not only expensive for a business, it can significantly damage the business’s reputation. What can business owners do to increase productivity and minimize the chance of recalls?
Every business enterprise is unique in the products or services it sells consumers, but there are certain basics that all business owners should focus upon at every stage of conducting business, both to protect the consumer and the bottom line of the enterprise. The last thing you want your business to be known for is causing illness, injury or loss of life.
The Basics of Product Safety
Have a Recall Readiness Strategy in Place
Any business can unexpectedly face a product recall. If one of your products has been recalled, or your business recalls it voluntarily, a skilled management of the process will have much to do with the final impact on the bottom line, as well as your business reputation. Many businesses fail to put a recall strategy in place, such as planning the reverse logistics involved in getting the product off the market. Get a recall readiness strategy in place, with the management team named and trained up for the processes involved.
Maintain Strict Quality Control Standards
Rigorous and ongoing quality control of your product is essential to avoiding a recall. Faulty products that are manufactured overseas can slip through and your business will be forced pay the price if a consumer is injured. Don’t assume that the product is safe, but inspect, inspect, inspect. Manufacturers can change processes, product components, ingredients and other alterations without informing you. Your business is responsible for the safety of your product. Test all current and newly developed and released products on a regular basis.
Inspect Your Factories or Farms
Don’t assume that the factory or farm that is producing your product is maintaining the standards set for your product, or consumer safety standards set by federal or state agencies. Engage the services of industry professionals and safety experts to do on-site inspections on a regular basis, and make changes if there are safety issues that could affect consumers and potentially lead to a recall. A first inspection of a factory or farm is not enough – these inspections must be ongoing.
Make Consumer Safety a Priority in Product Development
If new products in development have consumer safety as a focus during all stages you can avoid future problems. It is easier and less expensive to develop a product that is safe for consumers than being forced to fix a design flaw once the product has been released onto the market.
Develop Manuals for Product Safety and Product Recall Processes
Your business should develop manuals to maintain product safety, as well as manuals that address every detail of the recall process. One of the most dangerous corporate errors is to deny that a product is dangerous, or to remain silent. Businesses that take accountability seriously will quickly manage any danger to consumers, admit fault, and have processes in place that allow them to immediately inform all stakeholders – from governmental agencies down to the end-user – of the safety issue and what is being done about it. Honesty and transparency is far more effective. Rather than damaging your business reputation, there can be a positive response by consumers and stockholders when a recall is managed professionally.