When I still had DSTV I would sometimes have issues with the signal. I would call a guy who would come to my house, get on my roof, fiddle a little, and charge me R600. There are two ways you can look at this:
· He must be overcharging because he earned R600 for 10 minutes’ work.
· Or he is a specialist in his field who charges a fair rate to solve his client’s problem quickly and effectively.
This debate has been raging as long as professionals have charged for their services. When you buy a product, it’s relatively easy to assess its value and functionality and decide whether you’re willing to part with the cash to make it yours. Services are viewed differently though. Somehow, it’s deemed preferable to take your time and to create a bit of fanfare when delivering your service.
This is an excellent example that illustrates this point. It’s from a book by Dan Ariely and Jeff Kreisler called Small Change: Money Mishaps and How to Avoid Them:
“A locksmith once told Dan that when he started his career, he took forever to open a lock, and in the process, he often broke it, taking even more time and money to get one properly installed and finish the job. He charged for the parts to replace the broken lock as well as his standard fee for opening a locked door. People were happy to pay all this, and they tipped him well. He noticed, however, that as he became proficient and opened a lock quickly, without breaking the old lock (and without the consequent need to replace it and charge his clients for the extra parts), customers not only didn’t tip, but they also argued about his fee. Wait, what? How much is it worth to have our door open? That should be the question. But because it’s difficult to put a price on this, we look at how much effort it takes to have that door unlocked. When there’s a great deal of effort, we feel much better about paying more. But all that should matter is the value of that open door.”
A client recently asked me to quote a few of their branches for individual staff photos. All but one of the quotes were turned down because the staff said that they would be able to supply the Head Office with the photos they require. Spending the quoted amount on a professional photographer who would come in, set up lighting, take the photos, and leave within the space of half an hour didn’t make sense to them. Yet that’s exactly what I did for the branch that booked me. Their photos were done to brief, and Head Office was happy with it. The rest of the branches submitted photos taken with cell phones or small cameras. The lighting was all wrong, the backgrounds were off colour, and there were parts of the photos that were out of focus. Their agency will now have to see which ones they can salvage, and I may be called in to photograph those that can’t be saved. A bit of a rigmarole that could have been avoided if they had seen the value in hiring a professional.
It’s up to us to educate our clients in the value they will gain from doing business with us. The alternative is to dilly-dally when doing our jobs, just to create the impression that we’re worth the money we’re getting paid. I know a lot of suppliers do that, but it doesn’t sit well with me. It seems a little unethical. We should always ask ourselves if we’re giving our client the best possible service, and the aim should be to minimise the inconvenience to the client, not to exacerbate it.
When we hire a professional to deliver a service we’re not just paying for the 20 or 30 minutes they spend executing their duties. We’re paying for their overheads, their operating costs, their education, and years and years of experience. In turn, they’re able to provide us with a service that solves the problem we’ve hired them to solve and to do it quickly and effectively. Isn’t that a professional should be doing? I think so.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Email email@example.com if you need professional staff photos taken. I promise the background will be white, the colours will be correct, and the photos will be in focus. Who knows? You may even love the photos 😉
Until next time,
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