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Church Revitalization: Boat Anchor OR Fresh Wind in the Sails?

Church Revitalization is alive and well.  This is not the “Church Growth” movement of the 1980’s or “Seeker Sensitive” or some other fad. Frankly, “CHURCH” revitalization has less to do (in my opinion) with the age or condition of a congregation as much as a revitalization of the purpose (the WHY) of the church universal.

We have seen some incredible initiatives the past 10+ years related to revitalization and church multiplication. The most obvious and most publicized are Church Planting and Multisite Church. Both are alive and well and growing in impact.

“We need to be cognizant to not burden the next generation of church leaders with facilities that will become the boat anchor around their ministry and missional impact.”

But there has been an upswell of 2 additional initiatives that need to be mentioned.  These may be subsets of the above; however, they bring an additional set of impactful elements and I believe they have significant nuances that need attention:

  1. Mergers – Our team has served several churches the past few years that have merged to not just “rescue” a declining church, but rather to form a stronger, more vibrant and impactful church. As Jim Tomberlin and Warren Bird have so well stated – BETTER TOGETHER!
  2. Revitalization/Redeveloped/Adoptive Re-Use – So many terms we could use here…but we see a trend (for the good) of revitalization and adaptive use of facilities that have either aged out or are underutilized and/or a “highest and best use” that may not be exclusive of a 1-day-a-week church facility.

A deeper dive into the above is merited, but that is for another day. Instead, I want to share a concern I am seeing with both of the above when we are not intentional. Both of the above are exciting…and they are a great way to not only grow the Kingdom/Church (capital “C”) but to breathe new life into aging church facilities.

HOWEVER…there are 4 critical considerations that both the “giver” and the receiver of such facility gifts need to consider:

1. Functional Obsolescenceis a reduction in the usefulness or desirability of an object because of an outdated design feature, usually one that cannot be easily changed. Here are some prime examples:

  • Not handicap accessible
  • Inadequate HVAC system
  • Flow feels more like a maze than an intentionally community space
  • Lots of stairs
  • “Wrong-sized” spaces
  • Limited parking

2. Incongruent/Non-contextual – In many cases, the “gift” does not communicate the story of the receiver. It may be in the wrong part of town…may feel like a monastery and not a thriving community-centric facility…or it may just be old looking, feeling, and smelling.

3. Deferred Maintenance – “Here is your FREE Building.” – Oh Goodie…but what about the $3-4M in deferred maintenance. Don’t miss this. I have seen too many well intended churches and church planting organizations hand over an older facility to a church plant or even a multisite campus that appears to be “free” only to find they had been give the MONEY PIT. Free is rarely ever free.

4. Uninsurable – Directly related to the above, make sure the facility being gifted is actually insurable. Put yourself in this scenario…you are the pastor of a church plant…you are gifted a facility only to learn that the facility in not insurable or the insurance cost, due to its condition, has massive deductibles and/or unsustainable premiums. OUCH!

We need to be cognizant to not burden the next generation of church leaders with facilities that will become the boat anchor around their ministry and missional impact.


What Your email Address Says About You

Are you prejudice or have strong biases? I do not think of myself as the former, but definitely the latter. Then I looked at the definitions…and realized I can be both without really being aware of it.

Prejudice = preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.

Biased = unfairly prejudiced for or against someone or something.

So…what does this have to do about a simple email address? Well…I have prejudice/strong bias about certain email domains. I know that sounds trite and petty, but it is true. And I am convinced that I am not the only one (check out this funny graphic). Let me explain.

When I receive an email and the domain is @AOL or @YAHOO or @EARTHLINK or @HOTMAIL, I have an immediate prejudice…in the purest sense of the word. I make a preconceived judgement and opinion of the person who sent the email.  Here is my list of first impressions:

  1. This person is old (older than me…maybe older than my dad!)
  2. They are not technical
  3. The are still on Windows 98
  4. They are living 20 years in the past
  5. They don’t like change

As the above definition so aptly describes, I made a decision not based on reason or any actual experience. I realize that is not “fair” and the person may be highly technical and only 25 years old (but not likely). They may be using an Apple product and have the iPhone X (again…probably not). But the fact remains, I made a biased judgement of that person.

Do you know what else…others may be as well.  I was recently at a church technology conference talking with some of my peers when this exact topic came up. They were all sharing stories about how they do the exact same thing and try to get their clients to update their addresses to “modern” applications or custom domains. For example, tim at coolsolutionsgroup dot com is actually an alias for a Gmail address.

So…who cares? In some cases it is totally irrelevant…but there are some instances where your email tells a story that could hurt you such as:

  1. Looking for a new job – don’t look like you are not tech savvy or living in the past
  2. Communicating with church staff – don’t “date” yourself to leaders that may be younger than you
  3. Seeking assistance with software products – enough said
  4. Communicating with people how relevant you are – you get it
  5. ETC!

Does anyone else agree with me?


The World of Integration

When we first started eSPACE, I could not get another ChMS to sit down and have a conversation about integration…and yet we were inundated with requests from churches to be able to integrate to their HVAC systems as well as their ChMS. What is a boy to do?!?!

I am not one to give up easily…so here are some things we did:

  1. We developed an HVAC integration with the Niagara Framework to integrate with Building Automation Systems that had a JACE.
  2. We kept knocking on ChMS doors.
  3. We kept developing eSPACE into the BEST Facility Management Software solution for churches.
  4. We kept knocking on ChMS doors.
  5. We developed integrations with other HVAC control solutions such as WiFi Thermostats and XML converters (for BACnet, LON and Modbus).
  6. We kept knocking on ChMS doors.

Persistence finally paid off! 

Let me tell you what is going on to make your church more energy and operational efficient:

  1. eSPACE now integrates with 13 ChMS applications…check them out HERE!
  2. COOLSPACE offers integration with 4 Wireless thermostats, the Niagara Framework and many other Building Automation systems that communicate BACnet, LON and Modbus.
  3. We are in testing with a number of Access Control systems (more on that later).
  4. We integrate with a number of Digital Signage companies.
  5. We have a WordPress Plugin to integrate your WordPress site to digital signage.
  6. Our Dev team is exploring integrations with lighting controls, security cameras and other systems.

The world of integration is here to stay and we are thrilled to be the leader in this area to serve churches. Join the integration revolution and give us a shout!


At Just The Right Time…

Do you believe that God is in control of your life?

Do you believe that God’s timing is always perfect?

I have believed these in my “head” for years…but must admit that I rarely lived life with a complete understanding or acceptance of these realities. I have heard so many sermons and teaching on waiting on the Lord…or that His will and timing are always perfect. I have said the words and used them to convince others, but am not sure that I have really grasped them and embraced them like the air I breath.

Recently, my accountability partner and I have been studying Romans…and in particular Chapter 5. This has really got me thinking and coming face to face with a fundamental truth that I can no longer escape.

Look at Romans 5:6 with me:

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. (NIV)

What jumped out at me is the “at just the right time”. WOW…it hit me, this is not just a premise from a pastor or a Bible study teacher…but a fact from scripture…that “at just the right time…Christ…” That has made my heart skip a beat…I actually get goose bumps (I know some of you are thinking “DUH Tim…are you really that dense?” Well…ummm…yeah)

The Message says it this way – “Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready.”

Now…let me ask you again

Do you believe that God is in control of your life?

Do you believe that God’s timing is always perfect?

If you still cannot answer these to the affirmative…give me a call and let’s talk.


What Goes Up…

Admit it…you were finishing the rest of the verse to that song. Well, we are not talking about spinning wheels today, we are talking about one of the most ignored parts of your facility…the roof.

We generally do not think of our roofs until we experience an issue. Considering a properly installed roof can last several decades with very little issues, when we notice them it may be a very big deal to rectify. Unfortunately, many of us do not know what to look for or how to perform preventative maintenance on a roof.

It starts with understanding what type of roof system (or systems) your facility has. It could have shingles, be a metal roof, a single-ply membrane, a built-up, or any combination of roofing types depending on the size of your facility. Not just the material type is important, the slope of your roof is important as well. The steeper the slope, the more specialized the contractor needs to be in order to properly and safely work on it. It is hard to make repairs on a surface that you are not comfortable working on. The converse is true as well; a low slope roof takes someone who knows what they are doing to ensure drainage occurs the way it is supposed to.

If you have not gathered the data on your roofs, now is the time. You should have the size of the roof (I prefer using roof squares as the unit of measure), the type of roof, brand/color of the material, warranty information, and a record of inspections and repairs. You should also have a preventative maintenance schedule. The most important part of a preventative maintenance plan for your roof is simple: regular visual inspection.

I know that seems simplistic. The reality is we often wait until we see the issue from the bottom of the roof (leaks coming through the ceiling). Inspecting the roof annually helps us to spot the problems before they make it through the many layers to the ceiling. By the time an area becomes saturated enough to leak inside, there is damage to the substrate, the surrounding building materials, the insulation, as well as the potential for mold.

When we are thinking of the roof, it is also important to talk a bit about flashing. Flashing refers to any water-resistant material that is used in a roof system at the transition between the roof and another building element, a change in roof plane, or a roof penetration. Essentially, flashing is installed anywhere the roof is not able to lay on a singular plane uninterrupted. Proper flashing helps keep water out, improper flashing invites water in. Most roof leaks can be traced back to a failure in flashing. Many times, areas that are deteriorating can be quickly addressed with a proper sealant; assuming of course that you are looking for them every year.

I could go on regarding roof maintenance and inspection…but I have a better idea. Church Facility Management Solutions is providing a FREE webinar this month on Roofing. We will be going over roofing types and how to maintain them to extend their life. Why not join us, hear some great info, and get the chance to ask questions of or team of experts? We look forward to seeing you there!


Leveraging Technology to Accelerate Giving

Do you pay bills on line? I know that our household pays almost all of our bills online…even my 87 year old father does as well. Although I do not see my tithes and offerings as “bills” I pay them online the majority of the time. I am also aware that more and more churches are offering online giving and even text giving options, which got me thinking about the means and methods of online giving.

What should the online giving experience look like?

What giving technologies are most efficient and effective?

How can churches afford to employ new giving technologies?

How do we reach every generation of givers in the church?

Church leaders across the country are asking themselves and their pastor friends these questions, especially as they try to accelerate generosity and be intentional with the facilities (and all resources…including money) God has entrusted to them.

I recently learned of a new resource that can help you answer these questions in a very practical way. So I arranged some valuable Q&A time with Rusty Lewis, CFRE and Vice President of Generis, a group growing generous hearts toward God-inspired vision. He authored an eBook called “Leveraging Technology to Accelerate Giving,” and I got a chance to get the inside details of the book to share with you (You can get your copy of this resource for free, by the way!).

Take a minute and sit in on our conversation:

Tim: Why was it important for you to address giving technology in this new resource?

Rusty: With online banking and smartphone mobile pay apps, we simply aren’t carrying cash and checks like we used to. And that means we’re not carrying them to church services either. But many churches operate as if we do. When alternative giving methods are not being implemented, a chasm is created and giving is lost.

When a church doesn’t offer an alternative way to give, they have actually created an obstacle in someone’s way of giving to the church. Giving should be easy. And honestly, people have already gone mobile – with or without you. If pastors would address and improve their eGiving options, they would likely have an impact on giving for years to come.

Tim: What specifically did you choose to address in the eBook?

Rusty: Several years ago the call was to implement online giving, and today, many churches have done just that (though not nearly as many as you might think). Mistakenly, however, most assume that now they have online giving on their website they’ve done all they need to do in this area. That’s simply not the case.

So I’ve addressed three specific areas in the eBook:

  • Implementing all the tools that make up a complete electronic giving platform – and how they should perform.
  • How best to promote your electronic giving platform – now that we have the tools in place, how can we get more people to use them?
  • Appropriately stewarding the gifts that come in electronically – specifically, what happens when the gift is received – how do you say “thank you” and connect the dots between the gift and the ministry impact the gift allows?

Tim: What are you seeing in terms of generational eGiving?

Rusty:  Younger generations have smartphones by their side day and night. The common perception that young adults love their smartphones has become a statistical fact. And these are the future givers of the church.

Here’s a sneak peek into a study referenced in my eBook… in the chapter on Millennials and technology:

This information alone is a strong case for eGiving! Ultimately it’s the church’s responsibility to meet people where they are and encourage them on their giving journey.

Tim: What other technology-related topics are covered in this resource?

Rusty: The bulk of the eBook actually gets pretty practical. Once you download it you’ll quickly find:

  • resolution to some common giving technology myths
  • teaching on how to reach Millennials (the future givers of your church)
  • guidance on how to remove the hurdles of online giving
  • examples of the ideal online giving experience
  • recommendations on giving technology to consider
  • a self-analysis to help you understand your current position in the realm of giving technology

I even talk one-on-one with the providers of this technology for you. That’s just how important this is!

Tim: What kinds of practical tools do you offer in this new eBook?

Rusty: There are several very practical sections to this book. One of my favorites is a self-analysis. I’ve included step-by-step instructions on how to assess your current eGiving system and experience, complete with suggestions for improvement.

POSTLUDE (Tim): For far too many years, the church has been 10-15 years behind the technological trends of culture not to mention other means and methods.  It is exciting for me to find resources that can help the church be contextual, relevant and intentional in the area of giving.

Get your copy of this valuable resource TODAY.


4 Steps to Conquering Deferred Maintenance

Deferred maintenance is a term that gets thrown around a lot and yet I find many people have no real idea what it means. Let’s start with a definition:

Deferred maintenance is the practice of postponing maintenance activities such as repairs on both real property and personal property (i.e. machinery) in order to save costs, meet budget funding levels, or realign available budget monies. The failure to perform needed repairs could lead to asset deterioration and ultimately asset impairment. Generally, a policy of continued deferred maintenance may result in higher costs, asset failure, and in some cases, health and safety implications. (Wikipedia.com)

In a previous blog entitled “The “4 X” Reality of Deferred Maintenance” we provided some very sobering realities from national research projects…here they are again:

“Every $1 in deferred maintenance costs $4 of capital renewal needs in the future.”

“If a necessary repair is deferred and allowed to remain in service until the next level of failure, the resultant expense will be 30-times the early intervention cost.”

If those 2 statements do not shake you up a little, then you may need to see a doctor or psychiatrist. If you believe EVERYTHING belongs to God…and that HE has ENTRUSTED His ministry facilities to us to STEWARD…then you cannot take this lightly.

Let’s explore what the keys are to conquering deferred maintenance.

1. Identify YOUR deferred maintenance – The first step in nearly any issue in life is to first recognize there is an issue. If we do not acknowledge there is an issue, how can we resolve it? In most churches, there is a lack of understanding of what their deferred maintenance issue are. We get so busy with budgets, “doing church”, break/fix items, etc that we do not stop to take time to see the trees for the forest. In many cases, even if you took the time, you may not know what you are looking for. This is where a set of “FRESH EYES” can be beneficial.

2. Provide adequate general maintenance budgets – Over the past couple years, we have done facility assessments for several million square feet of church facilities. The aggregate amount of deferred maintenance has been in the tens of millions of dollars. That is sad!  The “church” claims to be an organization focused on being “good stewards” and yet we allow our buildings to deteriorate right under our feet. In every single case, the General Maintenance budget was under-funded. There was not enough money in the budget to keep up with the natural rate of physical deterioration. Check out this quote from Kevin Folsom, former Facilities Director at Dallas Theological Seminary:

“There are numerous levels that can be used to go about this, but to start we have to remember our early Physics lessons in high school about the 2nd Law of Thermal Dynamics. Everything we build will decay, but it may last longer if properly maintained. So, here’s a puzzling question…If we build facilities that the natural law causes them to decay at fairly predictable rates throughout its birth to burial, why do we not plan for it?”

The best way to conquer deferred maintenance is to have a budget that addresses the natural decay and deterioration of your facility.

3. Properly “staff” your facility team – In every instance referenced above, not only was the budget under-funded, but they were under-staffed…and not by just a little! If you only have enough staff to address the break/fix emergencies of the urgent, then how do you expect to stay on top of the natural decay and deterioration? Quick answer…YOU CAN’T! Based on national surveys by our firm and IFMA, we believe the number of facility staff for a well-run organization is one Full Time Facility Staff Employee for every 25,000 – 35,000 SF. This is not for cleaning…that is another story…this is for general maintenance.

4. Have a Properly funded Capital Reserve PlanGentlemen…this is a football! Church leader…capital replacement is not an “IF” consideration but rather a “WHEN” and “HOW MUCH”.  You WILL replace every HVAC unit.  You WILL replace all your carpet.  You WILL replace your roof. You WILL have to re-surface your parking lot. To turn a blind eye to the need of a capital reserve fund is kin to telling God that the laws of science and natural resources…that HE created…don’t apply to your church. You are above the laws of God. REALLY?!?! Do you have a 401K or similar account for the future or do you assume retirement or old age is not part of your future…that it does not apply to you?

If we were proactive with our operational budgets and capital reserves, there would not be any deferred maintenance. In a perfect world, we would properly fund our general maintenance budget to keep the building in the best physical condition as possible…AND…we would have adequate capital reserves when we approach “end of life” of our facility component.

That is how you conquer Deferred Maintenance. To quote Sean Connery in The Untouchables“What are you prepared to do?”


CAPITAL RESERVE PLANNINGAlmost every component of your facilities will have to be replaced at some point. Do you have an action plan? INTENTIONAL organizations plan today for tomorrow’s costs. That’s why it’s critical you establish a capital reserve account now.

Download our FREE guide to learn more. 

 

Preventive Maintenance: Revisited

The below is a post that I did in August of 2009…but think that we need to revisit it…and how it can save you money in the long run. Frankly, if we are focused on long term ministry implementation, then our facilities will need to be prepared to serve us (not vice versa) for the long term as well. OK…I will get off my soap box…enjoy the following!


As I have studied the Facilities Management field and have researched the cause and effect of the decay of everything that we build, I am more confused as to why we, as God’s stewards, do such a poor job of fulfilling those duties. We would rather put off today what we can go into debt for tomorrow. HMMM…is that good stewardship? Sounds like many government officials.

I recently was introduced to Kevin Folsom, Director of Facilities and Plant Operations Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas. He wrote a White Paper entitled “sustainable facilities” vs. Sustainable Facilities. This is an excellent article and frankly some of it is over my head…Kevin is one smart dude!!!!

Here is a quote from this article:

There are numerous levels that can be used to go about this, but to start we have to remember our early Physics lessons in high school about the 2nd Law of Thermal Dynamics. Everything we build will decay, but it may last longer if properly maintained. So, here’s a puzzling question… If we build facilities that the natural law causes them to decay at fairly predictable rates throughout its birth to burial, why do we not plan for it?

According to a research project done a few years ago, facilities…any facility…will deteriorate at a rate of 1-4% per year, assuming regular preventive maintenance. However, this rate of deterioration will, in most cases, grow exponentially if the regular, systematic preventive maintenance is not performed.

So…why do we, as church leaders, avoid addressing and planning for the inevitable? Would you drive your new car and never change the oil until the engine seizes up and then cough over a huge amount of money for a new engine? That does not make any sense to me.

Let me share one more quote from an interview Kevin did with facilitiesnet.

Let’s step back and look at the big picture for a minute. An appropriate preventive maintenance program should be funded on average at 1.5 percent of the CRV (Current Replacement Value) of a facility. Using the Fram analogy, which is much like a really small facility, 1.5 percent of a $20,000 car is $300 per year. The equivalent would be to pay someone to come to your car’s location to provide maintenance and inspections, while working around your schedule to prevent interruption. That sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

So, how much is the CRV (Current Replacement Value) of your ministry facilities? How much are you budgeting each year to maintain these God given resources? It may be time for a Facilities Management/Maintenance Audit.


The Established Church

I have worked in the church facility arena for over 32 years.  I have seen all sorts of trends, initiatives, flash-in-the-pan ideas and those that last through the ages.  I have seen shifts in music as well as what version of the Bible to preach from as well as the “how” we do church. I am a firm believer that the Word of God never changes…but our means, methods, systems, organizational structures, etc. MUST change.

In the design and construction segment of the church facility world, there is a huge clamoring to be on the cutting edge…to find the next Saddleback or Willow Creek or Elevation Church or Life Church. Most people in the space I work in want to be with the “cool” people. The trend setters. The hottest new thing.

I get it.

There is something very exciting to be part of a movement that is changing the landscape of church and impacting the world in incredible ways. There is great notoriety for those firms that can help design, manage and build facilities for these organizations. I have been blessed to serve such ministries and continue to serve many to this day. Again…I understand the allure.

But let’s step back…there are over 375,000 churches in America. Of those, there are less than 2,000 that would be considered Mega Churches (over 2,000 weekly attendance)…that is only .5%…less than one percent. And of that group, many have been around for more than 20 years…so they are not really the “newest gig” in town.

In addition, there are about 5,000 new churches planted every year (which helps to offset the closures). And of those, most are smaller than 200 people so they are not [yet] the new model for church in America.

Then it hit me (I am a slow learner at times)…the majority of all ministry that occurs in the USA is done from/within/based out of an ESTABLISHED CHURCH. In fact, I would surmise that 95-99% of ministry is generated by an established church. Let’s be clear…”established” does not necessarily mean “old” or “dying” or “stuck in a rut” or even “traditional” in their music style. I have churches we are serving that are 50-75 years old that have started their 6th campus or are reaching their communities in very new and fresh ways.

So what? Who cares?

Well…I do, and you should too.

The leaders of these established churches need encouragement. They need training on how to navigate the issues and opportunities related to leading an established church. They need to know how to honor the past and yet move toward the future. How do you love and respect an aging congregation and yet attract and foster relationships with the next 1-2 generations? How do you lead a church with deferred maintenance or “tired” facilities that may be dated and incongruent with your vision?

Well…I am so excited to have been asked to participate in the first ever EST Conference this fall in Dallas, Texas. The list of conference speakers includes Dr. Thom Rainer, Sam Rainer, Micah Fries, Josh King and John Myzuka…and me.

This one day event will be held on October 4, 2018. Registration has just opened, so make plans to gather your team and spend the day with this great line up of church leaders.


Cheap Is No Bargain

 

“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 fact regarding cost was written in the late 1800’s, but it still holds true today. The construction and maintenance industry is full of companies who claim to offer discount service, when in reality they perform “breakdown maintenance”. The scenario usually goes something like this: the building owner or manager calls for service (oftentimes, it’s an emergency); the “discount” company sends someone out to patch things up, and the building owner is led to believe that everything is working fine. A short time later the system fails again, and this cycle continues until the system is in such disrepair that it must be replaced. Now the building owner is faced with a large, unexpected expense.

Maintaining a complex commercial building, like our churches, in this way is like putting a band-aid on a serious injury. I recently heard a radio ad where the store owner was quoting a customer that said that she was “too poor to buy cheap.” That thought coupled with the above is a concept that most of us never fully grasp. 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. But prudence does not mean buying something that is “cheap” or the “lowest price/bid” because we think it will save us money. I have found that in most cases, the lowest price 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 with the humidity 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 customer. 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. I had to make a second trip to Staples and buy the paper that actually met my needs.

What did this escapade actually “cost” me?:

  1. The initial “deal” purchase
  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 potential client
  3. Extra time to drive back to Staples…which equates to lost opportunity time for sales or servicing clients
  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 price product or service if it has the “value” you desire…otherwise you are just buying cheap.