Recently at an intersection, I pulled up behind a well-maintained electrician's truck sporting a bumper sticker with a large triangle on it. On the three sides of the triangle were the words: Cheap, Fast, and Good. Above the triangle was the phrase: Pick Two.
Of course, the message was:
Good and Cheap = won't be Fast.
Fast and Good = won't be Cheap.
Cheap and Fast = probably won't be Good.
Like our clients, we are consumers and most of the time, we really want all three. I have had a few experiences with businesses that could pull all three off at the same time. A small, Italian tailor in my hometown comes to mind. I hesitate to tell any of my friends about him because his work is superb, he always asks me if I'm in a hurry and might need it today or tomorrow (seriously!), and he's currently half the price of anyone else in town. In a selfish effort to keep my little secret status quo, I've decided to keep him all to myself!
But typically, this triangle of choices proves true. Not to be used as an excuse for not meeting deadlines, sloppy work, or exorbitant prices, I've found it useful in feeling better about my fees in terms of providing our clients with a quick response and high-quality work. It also serves to remind me to keep my own consumer expectations of others in check. If I want it quick and good, it probably won't be cheap. If I want it cheap and fast, it probably won't be the best.
As much as I might try, the word will eventually get out about my little Italian tailor and he'll get busier causing him to either lengthen his turnaround time, hire others to help which will likely result in higher prices, or cut the attention to detail to get more done in the same amount of time. It's the cycle of small business.
At some point, all businesses choose which two they will be known for. There's no right or wrong... only a choice as to what feels best in terms of the vision of the business and its competitive place in the market.
This week, discuss which two you feel your clients likely use to describe your business to their circle of influence and whether or not it is congruent with the two you 'd like for them to choose.