Major Plumbing Recall

The Situation 

A supplier of plumbing products for the residential market gets the phone call they dread – independent testing has shown there is lead in their fittings.   It wears off quickly and poses no adverse health risks, but was obviously still unacceptable.

The Plan

In any product recall, there’s a whole lot of stuff that needs to happen.  And it needs to happen all at once.  The company had a good safety record, and has an otherwise great product... but clearly, one batch had something go wrong in the manufacturing process.  A recall was obvious, but how do we do that?

In order to buy time, I drafted “stand-by” statements for the customer service staff.  In the meantime, we needed to answer a ton of questions – like:

While a team set about to actually correct the manufacturing process, they were instructed to report back every day with a progress report.  I simultaneously ran several internal spokespeople through a crash course on risk and crisis communications, and we set about calling everyone we could think of... retailers, celebrity builders, key customers, everyone.  Our message was simple:  “We are doing everything in our power to fix this and make it right.”  And we did – our major customers were contacted several times a week with progress reports.

The Results

Several people, including a major retailer and a television ‘celebrity builder’ were impressed by the straight-forward attitude and dedication to the problem.  The manufacturer who supplied the faulty fittings was dismissed, while a new supplier expedited delivery of new fittings.

New product was on the shelf within weeks.  Any customer who had ‘old fittings’ was promised a new set.  Market share was unaffected, and the celebrity builder mentioned – on air – how impressed he was... not just with the product, but with the company that makes it.

If you have other questions or want to talk about your situation, you can always reach me here, or give me a call at (888)662-4550.