Let’s face it; we all like to save some cash. Money can’t buy happiness, but I’d sure rather cry in a Ferrari, right? But sometimes in the product or service industry, saving money isn’t the best option. Sometimes to get what you really need, paying a little extra is a great investment. Let me begin with a story.
In the early days of, before I really understood what I was or what I would become, I pretty much took on any job that came my way. If a client asked me if I could do something, my response was always yes, because even if I couldn’t, I could find a contractor that could.
One such job came along where a website I was hired to create required some custom and proprietary integration with another site’s database. The client needed the site to retrieve data and display the data via the API of that other site.
Of course, being me, I assured the client I would get it done. When I got home, I went online to find a contractor that could do the work for me. It took some digging, but I eventually found 2 seemingly qualified guys for the job. The first guy was based in Michigan, he had been a software developer for 15 years, and he knew web development like the back of his hand. The second guy was based in the Philippines and was $45.00 an hour cheaper.
Guess who I chose? The cheap guy.
We started a contract via Skype, and we talked about the project and what it would require. This contractor from half way across the world was very confident that he could do the job, and was anxious to begin. He quoted me approximately 60 hours worth of work.
The contract began and as the days passed, I started to see a pattern. Everything he would add to the site was functional, but it wasn’t pretty. Some boxes were misaligned, some would float around randomly and some were weird colors. I brought these to his attention, and after a few days, he would acknowledge my requests and specifically ix the things I asked him to.
The problem was, this led to other things being broken, and the more he added, the more seemed to break. It was very frustrating because he wasn’t proactive at all. He followed instructions, but he followed them 100% perfectly. He didn’t go out of his way, he didn’t fix things he saw were broken, and he didn’t make any attempt to clean anything up other than what specifically I asked him to clean up.
It was like hiring a house keeper and having to tell them specifically or each item of clothing that it needed to be washed. It took this guy 90 hours of work, and it cost me an endless amount of time and frustration. The quality was questionable and the level of service was horribly annoying.
I thanked him for his work, but I politely told him that I wouldn’t be needing his services in the future, it was a very bad experience. When the time came that the same client wanted another similar interface for a website developed, I contacted my applicant from Michigan.
This project was virtually identical to the first project except that it was a different API and a different site being interfaced with. Although it cost me $60 and hour instead of $15, this guy never made a mistake, did everything right the first time and responded to emails in hours, not days.
It was a hell of a lot more expensive, but it was well worth the cost.
After that experience, I realized a few things. Mainly that the cheapest option isn’t always the best option. I realized that there is a reason I will pick a Nike shoe up instead of a knockoff brand. Part of it is the brand power, but the other part is the quality. But its not just quality, there are 4 main factors at play here:
The level of quality in a product or service is important. Often times the cheapest option is the worst quality.
As the old saying goes, time is money. If something costs you less, but it takes more of your time, have you really saved money? The less time you spend on something, the more valuable the product or service.
How frustrated something makes you is often directly tied to time and quality. You may be saving some cash on a project, but is it worth the additional stress?
Service is the single most important thing you don’t get when you purchase a cheaper product or service. There is a lot of value in getting a response quickly; proactively taking action and looking for solutions to problems you don’t even know exist.
If you are looking to develop a website, sure you want to get a good deal, but getting a $300 website made is VERY different from getting a $3,000 website made. The quality is out of the park, the time you spend on it is minimal, it’s not frustrating, and often the service you get is quick and responsive. For something like a website that will act as the storefront of your brand 24/7, quality alone is worth the extra cost. That website represents you and your brand, so the question is then, how much are you and your brand worth?
Sometimes cutting corners and costs on a website in the beginning means losing customers and cash down the road. This also applies to pretty much everything.
When it comes to your brand and your business, quality is non-negotiable. Time, frustration and service are a matter of personal preference. Decide what’s best for you, but remember, just because something costs less doesn’t mean it’s cheaper.