Good, Fast, or Cheap: Pick Two

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While many people cite the fact that Millennials buying habits are destroying traditional industries, it does not necessarily address this long-standing business truth. For example, it is possible to order a mattress online and have it delivered to your house. You can even try it out for up to 100 days to make sure it’s the right bed for you. Those mattresses are frequently arriving fast and cheap – but are they of the same quality as a local source?

Personally, I bought an adjustable mattress a few years ago. It certainly wasn’t cheap, but it is definitely good. Plus, the quality is backed up with a 20-year warranty. By comparison, some of the online mattresses have a 10-year limited warranty which only covers half as much as my adjustable bed.

Looking beyond mattresses, the “Good, Fast, or Cheap” rule applies to any situation…

Good and Fast – but not Cheap

Everybody wants something good and fast, but those often come with a premium price tag. For example, at my business, we are a top ranked resume writing and career coaching service. However, if a client needs a very fast turnaround, there is a premium fee to pay. This is because you are pushing back all the rest of our scheduled work to serve you first.

Just like at Disneyland, if you want to jump to the head of the line, you must pay for the Premium Park Pass.

Fast and Cheap – but not Good

Fast food is the ultimate example of something being fast and cheap, but not necessarily good. I know, you may loooove Taco Bell – Burger King is my greatest weakness – but let’s not fool ourselves: fast food restaurants are not using the top-quality ingredients for their recipes. Otherwise, there is no way that they could make their margins, turn a profit, and stay in business.

Plus, we all know that fast food is not good for our bodies. Just compare the price of salads and fresh vegetables at the grocery store vs. all the chips and junk food. If you want quality, nutritious food, you will end up paying more.

Cheap and Good – but not Fast

Items or services that are both cheap and good may not have the fastest delivery time. One key example of this actually comes from small businesses.

Last year, my car got into a pretty big accident, causing over $11,000 worth of damage. I worked with a local shop that had great reviews. It did take over 6 weeks to get the car back, mostly because of demand for parts in my area. However, my car drives like a dream and you can’t even tell anything happened to it. Plus, their prices were very competitive, even though everything was paid for by insurance.

Even with my own company, it takes about two weeks to get a resume and LinkedIn profile finished. However, we devote a lot of time in getting to know our clients, conducting a thorough key word analysis, and two-stage editing before finalizing a project. As a result, our clients see marked improvements in their job search. For all the hours we put into every part of the process, the overall fee our clients pay is very competitive.

Custom Work

In the modern marketplace, custom work falls into its own category. While online shops like Etsy or Fiverr give the impression that you can receive a custom piece very quickly and very cheaply, it’s often a scaled down version or the provider is producing things in a streamlined manner. For a truly custom piece, you need to pay for it – unless you can make concessions.

For example, artist David Irvine is known for his unique redirected old paintings. Specifically, he finds paintings in thrift stores and adds pop culture references to them.

Sometimes, he will take on a commissioned piece. These may take him a month to complete. However, once done, prints are often available. The original commissioned piece certainly falls into a different category, as it is both expensive and not fast. However, the prints can be considered fast and cheap – but they certainly aren’t the original canvas.

Think of it like a Picasso: you can pay $5,000,000 for an original, or $5 for a cheap print.

The Ultimate Value

The true value of any item or service is what someone is willing to pay for it. Case and point: anything on eBay.

As a toy collector, one of my favorite gifts this year was Lego’s Saturn V rocket for advanced builders. (NO, I didn’t open it! That’s sacrilege!) Now retired, the sealed boxes from July 2017 are being resold on eBay for anywhere from $129 to $206. The original price was $99. Not a bad return for a 9-month investment. But what makes the difference in those price points since the product descriptions and item conditions are identical?

It’s what you are willing to pay.

The higher priced item may carry more weight because it comes from a reputable, long-standing seller with excellent reviews. Maybe the lower priced one is just a broker who isn’t inspecting every single item. A middle-of-the-road price may come from a fellow Lego enthusiast like you.

In the end, as with life, you choose what is most important to you: The Good, the Fast, the Cheap, or the Custom.

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