The Quality Control Officer

You need one.

Some transactions aren’t dependent upon perceived quality.

A hot dog vendor would have a hard time selling $10 hot dogs if the cart next to his had ’em for $1, no matter what the ingredients of the $10 frank.

Most commodities face this challenge. A paper towel is a paper towel, no matter the label, because I’m only going to use it to clean up a spill. So why is one worth more than another?

But there are many products which command — and receive — a real premium for the quality they reflect.

If I’m flying to Asia or Australia, I want to fly Emirates or Singapore Airlines, even if it costs a couple of hundred dollars more, because I know it’s worth it.

In America, air travel has become like public transportation: crowded, dirty, stinky, and unpleasant. We buy the cheapest fare because our expectation of service is very low.

It’s difficult to know if an airline like Emirates could compete domestically and still command a premium price, because none has, and for a generation it’s been a race to the bottom.

Goodbye loyalty — the very reason frequent flyer miles had to be offered.

If you work for one of the large consolidated radio companies today, you don’t have the luxury of setting minimum quality standards, even though they might help command a premium in a compressed, indistinguishable ratings blur.

But if you work for an independent group, this is your trump card, which you can play over and over if you are really committed to client satisfaction. It’s got to be more than a mission statement. It’s got to be a part of your company culture.

There’s always a market for Tiffany, Lexus, and Emirates. They’re not competing with JC Penney, Kia, and AirTran.

Let Clear Channel and Cumulus, Dial Global and Wilks, fight to sell the cheapest product.

You just have to be willing, and courageous enough, to compete on different terms.

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