The Independent News Column – MAR 2016
Those of you under 50, Google “The Smothers Brothers” and learn to appreciate the wisdom they taught through comedy. One of the great lines was “ As opposed to what”? I think it was Tommy that would ask his brother Dick if he wanted something. Like an Ice Cream Cone. Dick would reply “as opposed to what?”
What a good point. The ice cream cone compared to what? Getting punched in the nose? Tommy was talking about a comparative analysis. Of two choices, which is better for you, A or B.?
My point here today came from a conversation with a guy about some new counter tops, a sink and faucet and new backsplash tile. He found at a showroom exactly what they had been looking for, received a quotation, and in telling me his story he said that “the price seems a little high”. My reply in classic Smothers Brothers delivery was “as opposed to what”?
Was this project high priced compared to a new car? Or was this high priced compared to a box of Oranges. Without direct reference in today’s time and place, this person does not actually know if this price is high or not because other than the emotion, there is no factual comparison.
Time plays a big role in our perception of value. Comparing what it costs to roof your house today as opposed to the last time you one in 1974 is not of use. What else can you buy today for the same amount as 1974? Perhaps something’s, but a new roof is not one of them.
The person with the counter tops wanted to get additional bids and was having great difficulty finding others who could either supply the exact products, or that he was at all comfortable with based on conversation and attitude. So I turned the discussion to one of Value and not one of numerical cost. I asked if he could imagine that the job was complete, everything looked and worked great, and he did pay the amount quoted, would he be happy? His answer was yes. For those dollars, he felt he was getting VALUE and that is the best outcome.
We want to know we are not getting taken advantage of. We want a fair deal. We do not want to over pay, just like a contractor does not want to “leave money on the table”. All understood.
Stories of the $20 furnace capacitor being billed at $300 reinforces our fears. The value discussion here should be that for $280 someone drove to your home, figured out which part was needed, had it and 16 other different ones in inventory on their truck, knew how to put it in, took insurance liability for installing it, paid for the cell phone that your call came in on, and bought advertising that let you know that he was available to fix your problem. And you now have heat! Seems like a good value.
My encouragement for you as a homeowner, and those of you in the trades taking care of people is to direct your monetary conversations to VALUE. Value is what lasts, what is understandable, and what makes people want to do business again. Homeowners need to take the time to understand what is behind the billing. Contractors should be open with their costs and be able to explain in a value format why they charge what they do. I tell people that without a profit, a business will not be around to stand behind their work, answer questions, honor warranties, or help you out the next time.
After I got the bill from my Accountant for doing my remodeling company’s taxes I told him the only way he could have charged me more would be if he was billing out at Remodeler wages! He quickly explained the VALUE of his services to me. Point made.