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“It is unwise to pay too much, but it is worse to pay too little.
The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot … it can’t be done. When you deal with the lowest bidder, it is wise to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better!”
John Ruskin (1819-1900)
This simple fact regarding cost was written in the late 1800’s, but it still holds true today. The construction and maintenance industry is full of companies who claim to offer discount service, when in reality they perform “breakdown maintenance”. The scenario usually goes something like this: the building owner or manager calls for service (oftentimes, it’s an emergency); the “discount” company sends someone out to patch things up, and the building owner is led to believe that everything is working fine. A short time later the system fails again, and this cycle continues until the system is in such disrepair that it must be replaced. Now the building owner is faced with a large, unexpected expense.
Maintaining a complex commercial building, like our churches, in this way is like putting a band-aid on a serious injury. I recently heard a radio ad where the store owner was quoting a customer that said that she was “too poor to buy cheap.” That thought coupled with the above is a concept that most of us never fully grasp. I still go to the clearance rack and pick out a style or size that is not exactly what I want…I buy it…then it sits in the closet never to be worn…but hey, I got quite the “deal”. Can you relate?
Now, do not get me wrong, I believe in being prudent. But prudence does not mean buying something that is “cheap” or the “lowest price/bid” because we think it will save us money. I have found that in most cases, the lowest price comes with a price. The “value” of the purchase is usually commensurate with the price…LOW. Let me give you a real life example. I went to Staples the other day to get some printer paper. They had a sale on paper…about $3.00 for a ream…..which is 1/2 of the going rate of what I usually buy. So I bought some…thinking how smart I was. Well, when I actually started to use the paper, I realized that it was a paper-weight less than I usually use and the paper kept curling with the humidity or when it had a lot of ink covering the paper. It also was not as bright white as I would want to use to give a customer. So…was that a smart purchase or not? The paper is sitting under my printer and I only grab it when I need “scrap” paper. I had to make a second trip to Staples and buy the paper that actually met my needs.
What did this escapade actually “cost” me?:
- The initial “deal” purchase
- The personal frustration with the quality of paper and the horror of what my presentations would have looked like if I used that paper with a potential client
- Extra time to drive back to Staples…which equates to lost opportunity time for sales or servicing clients
- Additional gasoline and wear and tear on my vehicle
- The cost of the purchase of the right paper
- Did I mention the TIME this all took!
So, the next time you are making a buying decision…count ALL the potential cost of that “cheap” decision…it will surprise you. There is nothing wrong with buying a lower price product or service if it has the “value” you desire…otherwise you are just buying cheap.