Guaranteeing your products is a powerful way to add value and credibility to your brand. When you guarantee your products, you send a message that your company stands behind them and that you will provide customer satisfaction at any cost. It also sends a message that you believe the quality of your product is going to stand the test of time, or at least the warranty period. In our increasingly transparent marketplace, these are compelling brand messages.
But is the cost worth it? Consider the cost of product repair versus savings in other areas. Would you save on advertising with a reputation that your products were guaranteed? How much would you save on customer retention programs? And conversely, what would it cost you in sales lost to a competing brand that did guarantee their products?
We do a lot of traveling, and we both suffer from APD (acute packing disorder) – ‘seems like we always bring too many clothes. We are challenged by having to limit the number of bags as well as their weight. Our bags, like everyone else’s, take a real beating once we entrust them to the airlines. When they disappear behind the black flaps, they are on their own. Who knows what happens to those poor bags? At the other end of the trip, when they finally do come back through those black flaps, they are often scuffed, dented, or have missing parts. The clips, snaps, and fasteners seem to disappear. The zippers seem to get jammed after a while and the bolts seem to loosen and fall off.
We’ve tried many luggage brands over the years. Some were made well the first time we bought them, but when we returned as loyal return customers, they had been cheapened and quickly fell apart. There are heavy-duty bags out there, but with APD, we have to take into consideration the actual weight of the bag itself. We need to use every pound and kilo to count toward our zealous over packing.
So imagine our delight when our local luggage retailer introduced us to the new line of Eagle Creek upright, wheeled travel bags. We had known about the brand for years. We had their daypacks and used several of their cubical packing modules to keeps similar items separate, organized and easily accessible. But now, a light-weight, well-thought-out travel bag from a brand we already respected – and a “No-Matter-What” warranty! We bought two!
When the cost of repairs gets to be more than the cost of a new bag, a guarantee removes a lot of anxiety. What the guarantee said to us was, “Don’t worry about that with this brand! We’ll fix it for free if it needs it.” It also said, “We bet this won’t need repair,” which was even more compelling.
We waited for a few trips before we wrote this piece. We wanted to see how the new bags worked out after several months of going through the black flaps. They have survived and appear to be very well made.
The brand’s investment in quality, travel design, and “No Matter What” warranty got our attention. It also improves their reputation with everyone we share our experience with (not just fellow APDs). Was all that worth the cost of the guarantee? You bet!
Who Are We.
Having built and sold a bestselling national brand, we appreciate the value of brands and everything it takes to make them successful. Companies are valued by their brand equity. Achieving and maximizing brand equity requires tremendous respect for all your customers, from your wholesaler to your end user.
Starting in our laundry room with no money and no knowledge of the industry, we built the famous Barefoot Wine brand. We learned a lot they don’t teach in school and much of it the hard way. Although our success was in consumer products, our real world experience will be helpful to anyone looking for information and advice about brands.
We have written the New York Times Bestselling Business Book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand, which chronicles the history of the famous brand from its inception through its acquisition. Our book is now required reading in schools of entrepreneurship across the country. We hope this book will provide inspiration and encouragement for all those contemplating starting a brand or wanting to improve their existing brand.
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders