Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with people from several areas of the business world regarding their challenges. There was a car dealer, furniture salesman and a restaurant owner.
As we got into the conversation, it always seemed about price. They commented that no matter what, the customer most always questions the price. One owner told me that about 80 percent of their customers would go online and compare the prices of their products. I asked, ‘Even the restaurant menu pricing?” The answer was yes.
In the case of the car dealer, his customers very often come into the dealership with a print out of the vehicle they want and what they are willing to pay. Is this the new way of doing business?
I began to think about my own business experiences, and I do remember a time when a customer, whom I had given a three-pass high efficiency boiler quote, calling to say he found the same boiler online for less money from a supplier in another state. I must say that until then I have never felt challenged by any Web resource.
After all, if a customer were to buy one of our large heating items online, how would they get an honest, licensed installer to pull the necessary permit and do the job correctly? I know many of you will say that there are more than enough unlicensed guys that will do anything for a day’s pay, and you’re probably right.
However, I’m proud to say that the contractors I associate with are well-trained, licensed and insured who do pull permits for every job. I also know there are times that I, too, have been challenged with a price issue from these same contractors. Does this bother me? Certainly not. After all, no one is infallible, and maybe I forgot to mention a price increase on a particular item to a customer.
What does bother me, though, is when there is no regard for the services companies provide. For example, free technical support, free training, available inventory and fair pricing, these are often overlooked for a few dollars. What is this support worth? How can you put a price on support?
I wonder if there are companies that will use a specific price quote to play one company against another to get a lower price on a job or product. Then there are those who will spend hour after hour calling around from one company to another looking to save a few dollars with no consideration for what their own time is worth.
For example, take the Black Friday sale day, which takes place right after Thanksgiving. Companies come out of the woodwork offering special pricing on TVs, computers, tools, and many other items at a very cheap price. Customers will wait all night, in any kind of weather, only to find out when the door opens, there are only six of the special items in stock. Some contractors may have the same thing happen when a supplier puts out a sale flyer offering great pricing on certain items, but when someone tries to place an order, they are told the sale item is sold out.
So is it all about price? I say no, it’s about fair pricing, product quality, and the services provided by all of us regardless of whether it’s a contractor or supplier.