Product recalls can strike fear in the minds of both consumers and business owners. At a minimum, they’re annoying and at their worst, they can be catastrophic. So, how should you go about handling a product recall, if it’s your product in question and you’re running the show? Prevent it, if you can, and prepare for the worst beforehand, just in case. Here’s how.
Preventing a recall
The first thing to understand about recalls is that not all of them are the same. Some can be the result of faulty engineering or manufacturing processes. Others may result from tampering by ill-intended employees or suppliers. Others, still, could be the result of regulatory or governmental actions.
To reduce the likelihood of these recalls there are steps you can take:
Test and Certify
Organizations such as OSHA https://www.osha.gov/dts/otpca/nrtl/ and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) can provide guidelines for testing and ensuring a product’s reliability. In addition, third-party resources, such as National Technical Systems, can provide specific industries with comprehensive guidelines to increase a product’s safety.
While it’s important to test your products, it’s equally important to make sure the employees who are making them are skilled. Training and certifying your technicians, mechanics or manufacturing staff can go a long way toward ensuring products are made correctly. It’s also critical to vet employees and suppliers well beforehand to ensure you’re working with people of integrity.
Be sure that the vendors you work with are transparent about the parts or products they’re supplying. Counterfeit or incorrect parts can cause products to fail or wear out sooner than expected. Empower your employees throughout the supply chain to blow the whistle if they suspect something’s not right.
In the case of a recall
If your product is subject to a recall, it pays to have a response plan in place well before it occurs. This way you can execute without panicking or making the situation worse. Think through all of the scenarios in which your product could falter and the consequences that could play out.
Assess worst-case and best-case scenarios and your potential liability. Call on experts in the legal and public relations fields to help you understand what you should and shouldn’t do. Use this information to create a response plan and then practice it with your key team members at least once or twice a year.
Transparency here is key, and while it may be difficult to admit that your product failed, failing to do so will erode consumer trust that’s already being tested. Outline your knowledge of the cause of the recall, what steps you are implementing to fix it, how you will be compensating consumers affected by the recall and how you plan to move forward with a safer, more reliable business. For an example of a company that did just this, check out this case study of a Cheerios recall.
At the end of the day, no one enjoys a recall, however, you can reduce the chances of them occurring – and minimizing the damage if they do – by using the insights provided here.