The Three Legged Stool

These days, everybody wants it all. They want the lowest price, the highest quality and the best service, and they want it now…

But reality tends to stubbornly resist matching our fantasies. And reality dictates that whenever the price is low, either quality or service has to be shaved in order for the provider to maintain a profit margin. All businesses, including plumbing, have basic components in the cost of doing business: overhead, labor and supplies. For one supplier to substantially undercut another, one or more of those costs will be slashed to compensate.

Picture a three-legged stool and visualize one leg as price, one as quality, and one as speed. If one leg is shortened, the others must be trimmed to maintain the balance. If you want the lowest price, it will be balanced by lower quality and longer wait times. If you’re looking for highest quality, the supplier’s costs will go up, and you will pay for it. You may have to wait for items that must be special ordered, or for a slot in a specialist’s busy schedule. Similarly, to meet a sudden demand for unusually speedy service, a supplier must add more labor, perhaps in the form of temp help or new hires, or by putting his best people on overtime. The result is likely to be higher cost or lower service quality — or both.

That’s the underlying reality in the truism: “you get what you pay for.” In general if you want quality, there is no way around it. You’re not going to get top quality at a bottom line price. It is all a balancing act.

I must admit, I used to shop price. It’s always nice to find a bargain, I thought, but I learned the hard way. When I was shopping for my first digital camera about 5 years ago, I searched online and found a price that was $100 less than any other vendor. The supplier told me it was on back-order, but I was in no rush. Four weeks later, the back-order was still not filled and they could not tell me when it would be. Finally, I cancelled the order, found another vendor and paid the $100 more. Voila, my camera was delivered. I found out that the first vendor would tell customers an item was on back-order and try to convince them to buy costly accessories. If you did not order the overpriced add-ons, you did not get your back-ordered camera. They had to make money somewhere in the picture, so they used the under-priced lead item to push customers to make up the cost with overpriced accessories.

I enjoy shopping for all kinds of wonderful electronic gadgets. I challenge you to try this exercise. Find the lowest online price for a particular item, then go to the following website: Look up the reviews for the vendor with the lowest price. Every time I’ve done this, I‘ve found that the lowest price vendor has the worst customer satisfaction ratings, and I would never want to do business with them.

The bottom line is, if you shop for a low price that is likely to be all you are going to get.

1-800-PLUMBING provides our licensees with the smart marketing and management tools and lower-cost advertising materials that help them keep their overhead costs in control, so they are able to more efficiently provide a level of quality and integrity second to none at realistic and competitive rates. Our growing nationwide network of plumbing contractors is committed to the goal of delivering an ideal balance of high quality and prompt, reliable service at, not the cheapest, but honest and reasonable prices.

Have a great plumbing tip? Contact us today.

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