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Cutting Corners Can Cost You Your Brand Reputation Not Just Money

2 Key points to consider and 6 Questions to help assess risk involved in big decisions

What has building law and compliance got to do with brand reputation?

After a recent case in the news and conversations with those who’s job it is to ensure these rules are kept I have identified 2 key ways that choosing to cut corners on a business renovation, new build or building Health and Safety compliance could impact a business, brand and reputation in the community and market.

  1. Money
  2. BRAND and reputation

One is sometimes recoverable the other not so straight forward.

My background is in marketing, business development and brand management, and lately I have been reminded how cutting corners even in the building industry can impact more than just your bank account, it can also impact your brand and reputation in the community and market place.

The irony about the #1 impact, Money, which is often first looked at, is that usually, this is the primary reason for noncompliance in the first case, people wanting to SAVE money.

Let’s look at brand and reputation, a much more ‘sticky’ spot for any business to find themselves, I have chosen to pick on a recent case that was publicised in the papers. This is a big topic and I realise that not every case has the same history, details or reasons but overall I believe my principals around brand and reputation apply in all cases.

Considering the recent successful prosecution of the blueberry and ice-cream brand OOB, one of the largest publicised fines handed down for building noncompliance in a while, I got to thinking about the brand impact of those early decisions made by the business owners.

Business is successful, it grows it needs more space. Or new business needs a building or more space in an existing one. Decisions are made! Sometimes advice is sought and in all fairness not given well or with the right intentions, in some cases advice may be ignored to save the immediate costs.

Either way that series of decisions, whatever the journey to make them, has cost this business a hefty $26k fine plus legal costs in money but maybe more importantly what has it cost them in reputation.

Some consumers may not realise or think deeply about what it can mean to not comply to the government standards for safe buildings and carry on eating the ice-cream without a care. I would say this is a minority though and I would like to think that most consumers in NZ expect the companies we claim ownership of in our clean, green and proud nation are providing not only a quality product but also a safe working environment for the staff and visitors.

I opened my freezer this morning to discover that the brand of blueberries I was about to enjoy for breakfast is in fact OOB! Immediately, I thought “oh those are the silly beggars who didn’t think they needed to comply with the building laws in NZ” I ate the blueberries, but I must say that I will think twice before purchasing their brand again.

They may have taken advice that set them up for a fall, but all business owners must realise the BUCK stops with them, and so does the reputation of the brand and company, who’s picture was in the paper with the big write up? The owners.

WHY such a harsh line? I hear you say…. Well what else, let’s not sit by and wait until another building collapses in a serious earthquake or fire killing or injuring people before we realise that the building laws are there to protect us all, and our families. Bottom line is that building laws save lives, and a company or organisation that constantly ignores the safety of the people they have in their buildings gives out a deeper message to the market and community they run in, they are more concerned about profit, expense cutting and time-saving than people’s lives.

Strategically it is always good practice to think through decisions, if this is not someone’s skill set they should seek help from someone who has this ability, to think through future projections, risk factors and possible scenarios. Above all else, the person or people who the ‘buck stops with’ need to take full responsibility for understanding any laws that may apply and factor them in from the start.

6 questions a business/Organisation could go through when making expansion or moving decisions around buildings, office space, manufacturing spaces, retail spaces and more

  1. Do you (or your contractors) know what you can do in your building without building consent?
  2. With any consented work have you finished the projects with a CCC?
  3. What is the Gap assessment between what our building has now and current Code?
  4. If we have a BWOF in our building and are all our systems safely working?
  5. Do the right people in our organisation know what risks exist in our building and what we are doing to manage them in plain English
  6. Could anyone get hurt, anytime in the future because of these decisions?

From a business strategy perspective, a good old fashioned cost analysis of any project should always include building compliance laws, cost of any upgrades and getting council consent.

If the project can’t fit into the budget it is not time to cut corners and potentially risk limbs and lives, it is time to look at alternative venues, buildings, or options.

Here is to a safer NZ

Jen Tyson