You get what you pay for

Jul 25, 2013 by

Money Down the DrainI was having a conversation this morning when the caller mentioned a picture I had recently shared on Facebook.  They were commenting how true they felt it was, it was about getting what you paid for.  It was an image that a friend had seen shared on LinkedIn, a sign in a shop window that stated:


We offer three kinds of service:

Good – Cheap – Fast

You can pick any TWO

GOOD service CHEAP won’t be FAST

GOOD service FAST won’t be CHEAP

FAST service CHEAP won’t be GOOD

This applies to all aspects of your business.  It applies to the rate you charge your customers for your product or service, and also the rate you pay your suppliers for your product or service.

Let’s face it, the supermarkets have been offering this for years now in the guise of their value, standard and extra special ranges.  We all understand that if we want the extra special then there is a premium to pay, and that if we choose value then it won’t be as good as the extra special.

Whilst I am the first to look for a bargain, I am a tight Yorkshire lass after all, I also believe in value for money.

Working in a service industry I often see people concentrate on an hourly rate and try to beat it down as low as they can, without actually seeing what they are getting.  Sure I can work for you for a lower rate, but would you honestly expect that you’d get my full service and attention?  My rate isn’t just about the time it takes me to do a job, which thanks to my experience could well be a lot less time than someone less experienced and cheaper, you’re paying for the knowledge, the workmanship, the experience and the added value that comes from working with me.

When you buy a new product for your home you want something that will last. I don’t know about you but I go for the product that I can afford, even if that’s the top end of my budget, that will last and actually do what I need it to do.  There’s no point in me buying something cheap when I know that in just a few months I’ll have to replace it, I’d rather invest the money and get a product that will last or do the job properly.

I see this more and more on behalf of clients in the current climate, they’ll send a quote out which covers a professional and quality service only for the end user to choose the cheapest quote, which then doesn’t do what they expected, and call my client back asking them to fix it.

When you ask someone to discount their rate then you must also accept that there will be a reduction in the service or product to allow for that.  Let’s use a hot chocolate as an example, the value version is an instant hot chocolate, the standard version is a hot chocolate made with fresh hot milk, and the deluxe is a hot chocolate made with fresh hot milk and added cream and marshmallows.  When you walk into the coffee shop you accept that there are variable prices depending on the quality or size of the product that  you have chosen.  Why then do people not transfer this logic into their buying and selling decisions?

If you’re a supplier then have a look at what you offer, if you’re offering a discount or reduction can you justify that in terms of a reduction in the product or service as well?  If you’re a buyer are you sure that the budget option actually represents the best value over a period of time or will it prove, in the end, to be false economy?

How do you handle requests for discounts, free work as a sample or barter exchange?



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  1. I can’t tell you how true this is. If you value your work, and yourself, then you will be rewarded with a good business that you love.

    There is the adage, pay cheap, pay twice, and in my experience that happens all the time. Some person will find a cheaper quote, that supplier screws it up and then they come back to you to fix it.

  2. Brilliant article, Helen. Spot on!

  3. You’ve hit the nail on the head Helen! It took me a while in my business to stick to my published rates, I had the mentality that if I agreed a cheaper rate I would keep the client but those types of client – the ones who want to spend the least- don’t stick around as they’re always on the look out for some one cheaper. My mantra now is working with me is an investment not an expense. it is all about the value we bring not just the work we do and those clients that value our service are the ones to keep. 😉

  4. Lynne Collie

    Very wise words, Helen. A great blog to keep coming back to as a reminder to recognise and celebrate our value as VAs. Thank you!

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