ISO: In Search Of
Every day in life there are dozens of options for almost everything. If you want to change a tire, buy a new house, or just go out to ice cream, you have dozens of options for where to do these things, and who to pay to do it. Over the last few years I’ve had to do it all… I’ve bought a car, a house, rented several apartments, replaced all my tires twice over, had my brakes worked on, skin cancer removed from my face, purchased tons of expensive camera equipment, and had my picture taken. Making a decision about where/how to do all of these things have been major milestones for me. They were decisions I debated and researched and prayed about. And the only experiences I regret are the ones that I chose the cheap option. I asked for the affordable option over the quality choice.
If you are a part of any sort of community group on Facebook, you probably see this phrase all the time: “ISO (In search of) affordable ______” Fill in the blanks. People are always asking for recommendations for affordable everything. Hair dressers, pool guys, piano teachers, mechanics, pet sitters, lawyers… you name it. I may be too young and too rash to be making this blanket statement, but I’m pretty sure I’ve decided I’m done looking for the ‘affordable’ option.
At 29 I have made the choice to choose quality. Because the big things I’ve spent money on have never caused me grief. I’ve never looked at my computer and said to myself ‘gee, I wish I hadn’t spent the money on that fusion drive’. I never get into my car and wish I’d settled for the cheaper trim package. When I get a nail in my tire I’m certainly glad I got the nice tires with a comprehensive warranty. I’m so glad I didn’t shop around and go for the cheapest option. And I’m not saying that quality always equals $$$… but if you are always just looking for the cheapest way to do things, don’t expect fantastic results.
One of my favorite authors gave a speech at a University where he spoke about any successful person needing three things to ‘make it’: You must be on time, pleasant to work with, and deliver quality work. And, he went on to explain, you don’t even need all three. Two will suffice. If you’re on time and you deliver quality work, people will forgive a little attitude. If you are pleasant to work with and deliver great work, they will forgive you for being a little late. And, if you are always joy to work with and show up on time, your work doesn’t need to be as impressive. (Neil Gaiman)
This, I believe, is the recipe for a great business. I want to nail all three, and work with other companies that will do the same. Be timely (efficient), be a joy to work with (ethical/honorable), and deliver great work (quality). I don’t know about you, but I’d rather pay a little bit more money and work with that company than pay someone who’s under-handed, lazy, or isn’t qualified to do the work… and then have to pay someone else once I realize how horrible the first guy was.
Think about that the next time you write up a status asking for a recommendation for “An affordable hairdresser”. One of the great sayings that is true more often than not is: you get what you pay for. So why are we asking for mediocre? Why are we asking for the cheap option? Better yet, why are we giving money to businesses and people who are less than awesome at what they do? Or asking craftsmen and small business owners to compromise what they know they are worth because we know it’s cheaper somewhere else? When you do that, you’re telling the people with the poor quality that you don’t expect much, so they won’t ever deliver much. I don’t expect my cell phone camera to deliver the quality and precision of my Canon 5DIII.
It astounds me that it’s taken me so long to figure this out. After all, I’m a business owner. I want people to recognize the quality, my experience, and the hard work that I will put into their photographs… and to be willing to pay me to do it. I’ll be starting my posts from now on with “ISO: great quality (mechanic to repair my radiator, seamstress to hem my dress, DJ to run karaoke at my wedding)”. The best things in life are free… but it’s worth paying good money for the things that aren’t.