Service is Valued, Value is Worth Paying For

I’ve recently seen a spate of stories about “haggling” and even one profile of a professional haggler giving tips on how to get the best deal, replete with angles, strategies, and brow-beating. Well, in the spirit of full disclosure, I am a lifetime sales shopper, and I attribute that largely to my parents’ frugal ways. You didn’t ask for it, but here is my thumbnail take on the difference between shopping the sales and engaging in psychological warfare over a purchase.

A business may run a sale on its services or merchandise for many different reasons, and that business has calculated what the hoped for effect of a successful sale will be. It may even be that it plans to lower prices yet again on the same merchandise after an initial period of time. Or the sale may have simply been a marketing plan to bring more traffic to a store or website and the prices return to previous levels. Needless to say, this is far more likely to happen with larger companies that can absorb losses, than with small companies working on tight margins with less capital to spare.

So what is wrong with asking a salesperson if there is a better deal to be had? Nothing. I know I have done that on many occasions when I felt I could not afford a purchase or if I felt that I had other options. The difference for me is that I feel that vendors, and we are one, are entitled to a fair price enabling them to run a successful business. That means that vendors are able to treat their employees properly, provide effective warranty programs, improve their product lines, update their technology as needed, foster company education and certification programs, maintain proper licensing, and provide an excellent customer experience. A company that gives away its services or merchandise cannot do these things, and then we all eventually may lose. And lest anyone think that online businesses are immune from these requirements, shop again. In some ways, bad online purchasing experiences are even more frustrating and discouraging than conventional shopping. If I get to the haggling threshold, I will simply explore other options or defer the purchase. In many cases I will say just that to the salesperson – “Thanks for the time you have taken with me. I understand your position and I will come back when I am ready to buy.”

The experience MOSAIC Group is committed to providing is not just a product experience — in fact, we talk in our marketing and production meetings about the service experience probably 75% of the time as compared to the quality of the product. That is not because we neglect quality — we have been doing this for 25 years and we are very good at producing the remodeling “product”. It is the customer experience, effectively the SERVICE experience, that we are continuously working on. Yes, we also work on making that experience more efficient and cost-effective, but at the end of the day, service requires people-time and people-effort and it does cost more than just the construction itself. We always provide the fairest price we can at the outset to represent the experience we provide. And we don’t mind a bit if you ask if we can do better because that gives us an opportunity to review your project with you to create more efficiencies or to make changes to meet your budget.

So, while we understand that the economic climate of the last 2 years has understandably led most of us to seek the best prices on the items and services we continue to use, we also must remind ourselves that we want the companies we trust and rely on to remain viable and able to provide what we need and want at the level of quality and service we expect. We have re-committed to our mission to provide an exceptional design/build and green remodeling experience, even as we have worked diligently over the last year to become more effective in our business practices.

This blog may be about semantics to some, but to others perhaps a reminder that what we truly value when we step into our favorite stores or call our most trusted service people is rarely just a thing or a product. It may be worth considering that a sustainable economy emerging out of this recession may be best built on doing business with each other based on fair pricing for value, and long-term value may cost a little more upfront. And a bad experience may cost us a lot more — “pay me now or pay me later” was the well-known tagline for an auto parts commercial years ago. Haggling may get us a better deal in some cases, but the best businesses are treating us fairly all along. I for one prefer to be loyal to them.