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As a Customer, Do You Want Cheap or Value?

We’ve all seen social media posts describing a particular situation and asking for a service provider who is CHEAP.

They go something like this: “My upstairs toilet started leaking at 3 am Saturday. I need recommendations for an emergency plumber. He needs experience with historic properties and he needs to be CHEAP!”

Or: “My baby is turning one next week and I need a photographer. Who can you recommend that has mini-sessions on Monday before 1 or Thursday from 3-5? Also, they can’t cost an arm and a leg.”

In my world, it might be: “I was referred to you to help me buy a business. The business broker (who I don’t know or trust) will write the contract and hold the escrow money, but I want someone on my side to represent me. I am already paying so much for the business, I don’t want to pay that much for a lawyer too. Can you just do the bare minimum for the cheapest amount to make sure I am not getting taken advantage of?”

As a business owner, you may be familiar with the iron triangle: price, quality, and time. You generally can only pick two of the three. If you want it quick and cheap, you will sacrifice quality.

As a customer, think about what you really want. The “cheap” plumber might be starting out. She might not have the necessary experience or tools to complete your job well. She may need to come back several times or call a friend for suggestions. The photographer with empty slots on the fly might be short-tempered or have very few props/backgrounds/choices.

Most service providers have set themselves up somewhere in this triangle. A “master craftsman” might offer heirloom-quality furniture. Expect to pay for the quality and the time it takes to craft something like this. If you are interested mostly in “cheap” furniture you will get quickly, you will go to Target or Ikea and buy something you put together yourself. It likely won’t be something that you can hand down to your grandchildren.

Most service providers also have set their prices at a level they think is fair for their quality and the time it takes them to do their work. They value quality and time. If you value only price, you may not be a good fit for the service providers who focus most on quality. Have you ever thought about the message you send as a consumer who only cares about price? It often tells the service provider you don’t care about their expertise or the quality of the work.

Remember, you get what you pay for. Perhaps you are looking for value – good quality at a fair price – rather than solely price.


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