Want to see how to destroy a great reputation that took years to build in just a few short weeks? You might want to talk with Toyota. In their quest to become the world’s largest car company they made a mistake that GM was often considered guilty of. They let quality slip.
That alone probably wasn’t bad enough to do the damage. But trying to cover it up was. Toyota knew there was a problem, but they weren’t sure what it was or how to correct it. First it was the floor mats causing the accelerator to stick. When that didn’t resolve the issue the public began questioning if they actually knew. Now it appears Toyota has the solution by fixing a faulty accelerator. Just when they thought it couldn’t get worse, now there is a problem with the breaks on the new Prius. A recall has been issued in Japan, and the US is waiting to see what they will do here.
Recalls in the auto industry certainly aren’t new. Actually they happen quite often. Check out http://www.automotive.com/new-cars/recalls/index.html and see for yourself. So what made Toyota’s such a big deal?
I think the issue is trust. Toyota built its reputation around it. You could trust them, their vehicles were reliable, you could count on their resale value, etc. The recalls have people questioning that trust and it’s going to take a lot to repair it.
People have become very skeptical in today’s economy. Loss of jobs, the mortgage bubble, and questionable business practices have caused cynicism to increase. Rebuilding trust will be a challenge and it will take time. For others, it will create opportunities to grow. Trust is one of the most valuable things in your business. Make sure you don’t squander it. Hire the right people, communicate and value them. Treat them well. Work with integrity and be a good community partner. Create a legacy that will have people wanting to do business with you and not driving them to your competitors.