“Cheap” Is Too Expensive

“It is unwise to pay too much, but it is worse to pay too little.
The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot … it can’t be done. When you deal with the lowest bidder, it is wise to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better!”
John Ruskin (1819-1900)

This simple statement regarding cost was written in the late 1800s, but it still holds true today. The design, construction and maintenance industry is full of companies who claim to offer discount services, when in reality they perform services that actually cost us more in the long run.

Designing, building and maintaining a complex commercial building, like our churches, cannot be done with low cost/cheap as the primary qualifier in the purchasing matrix. I am not suggesting that just because someone’s price is higher that you are getting a better value…but to have a paradigm that is exclusively bent on CHEAP, is headed for expensive long term ramifications.  I recently heard a radio ad where the store owner was quoting a customer who said that she was “too poor to buy cheap.”  That thought, coupled with the above quote, is a concept that most of us never fully grasp. I must admit that I still go to the clearance rack and pick out a style or size that is not exactly what I want…I buy it…then it sits in the closet, never to be worn. But hey, I got quite the “deal”.

Can you relate?

Now, do not get me wrong, I believe in being prudent. In fact I wrote about it last week HERE. But prudence does not mean buying something that is “cheap” or the lowest “price/bid” only because we think it will save us money initially. I have found that in most cases, the lowest “cost” comes with a price. The “value” of the purchase is usually commensurate with the price…LOW. Let me give you a real life example. I went to Staples the other day to get some printer paper. They had a sale on paper…about $3.00 for a ream…which is 1/2 of the  going rate of what I usually buy. So I bought some…thinking how smart I was. Well, when I actually started to use the paper, I realized that it was a paper-weight less than I usually use and the paper kept curling from the humidity in the office or when it had a lot of ink covering the paper. It also was not as bright white as I would want to use to give a client. So…was that a smart purchase or not? The paper is sitting under my printer and I only grab it when I need “scrap” paper. This cheap paper cost me a second trip to Staples to buy the paper that actually met my needs.

What did this escapade actually “cost” me:

1. The initial “deal” purchase – I paid money for the paper
2. The personal frustration with the quality of paper and the horror of what my presentations would have looked like if I used that paper with a client
3. Extra time to drive back to Staples…which equates to lost opportunity time for serving clients or spending time with the family
4. Additional gasoline and wear and tear on my vehicle
5. The cost of the purchase of the right paper
6. Did I mention the TIME this all took?!?!

So, the next time you are making a buying decision…count ALL the potential cost of that “cheap” decision…it will surprise you. There is nothing wrong with buying a lower priced product or service, if it has the “value”  you desire…otherwise you are just buying cheap.

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