I’ve been having a lot of conversations with different professionals recently about the value of quality (work, workmanship, advice etc…). It seems most people are so pre-occupied with getting everything on the cheap, I wonder if they’ve forgotten what may be worth paying more money for. Have we become a Wal-Mart society?
I think we put a price on things pretty quickly. The combination of what we’re presented with allows us to form an opinion, and with that opinion comes a value judgment. Oftentimes, we make a judgment based on the price that is being offered and decide whether or not we agree with that price, based on what we can perceive about who is offering the product/service. We can be advised not to judge a book by its cover but sometimes that’s all we have to go on unless we actually talk to someone about what it is we’re looking for.
I used to work at a high-end financial planning and investment firm that was solidly in the high rent district. The office was beautiful, the receptionist pleasant and professional, the coffee ready upon the client’s arrival, and the materials top-notch. Their pricing was higher than most of their competitors, too. All of this branding helped the firm present itself in the most favorable of ways to prospects and clients, to lead them to believe the advice they would receive was also of the same quality (top-notch). Was it? I’d like to think so, (especially since I was often the one providing such advice). The clients of that firm sought out quality, and were willing to pay for it. They also were high-net worth individuals, perhaps more accustomed to paying for quality and, perhaps, perceived their ability to pay for it more favorably than others not of high-net-worth.
I was talking with a man I met at a networking event. Andy Utnik is a home inspector. He charges more than his competition does, but he strongly believes he provides the most thorough analysis possible (this guy is passionate about homes) and, if you’ve ever bought a home, you know how valuable that analysis is. (Who wants to buy a home only to find it needs completely new wiring?) Sadly, some prospects call him on the phone and, without knowing anything else about him aside from his price, determine they could “get the same thing cheaper from someone else”. But is this true? Are we so afraid of spending more of our hard-earned money and risk being called a fool that we no longer trust our own judgment to select someone of quality to help us? There is a difference between being frugal and being cheap. I’m concerned that the recession has brought out our inner cheapskates.
I wonder if the United State’s growth industry might just be a return to quality; quality craftsmanship, quality goods, quality service, helping all of us have quality of life. I’d say it’d be worth it.