First off, let me say if you came here as the result of a Google search, I apologize. This blog is not about the cheapest anything. In fact, it is about the exact opposite.
After giving several ballpark quotes lately and not hearing anything back from the people who requested them it occurred to me that, as a society, we are hung up on the cheapest. We have to have the cheapest…whatever. Car insurance, airfare, clothes, it doesn’t matter. As long as we can get it for the least amount of money, we will buy it.
The one thing that’s missing from our calculation, I think, is relationships.
A hundred years ago, everyone bought their groceries from different vendors. You had the meat market, the produce stand(which have actually come back in vogue thanks to farmers markets) and the milk man. You had relationships with each of them. They knew you and your family, they knew what you liked and what you didn’t like. There was no way you could put a price on that sort of relationship.
And then came the grocery stores. Everything you needed in one stop and, probably, less expensive. The meat guy didn’t have to pay for a stand alone shop, so the savings were passed on to the customer. Maybe you had a relationship with this person and maybe you didn’t, but if not it was alright because you were saving money and time.
I think the thing that we fail to take into account as we compare prices and clip coupons is the relationship.
Because, whether we realize it or not, there is value in knowing who we are doing business with. Just as the butcher from a century ago would recognize you and knew exactly how thick you liked your pork chops cut or the produce vendor who knew your family and always seemed to pick out the freshest head of lettuce for you because he or she knew you had to make it last awhile, a good business relationship today can pay off in ways that are hard to put a price on.
Sure you could save 15% or more by purchasing car insurance from a website, but wouldn’t you rather have an insurance agent you know and trust looking out for you, your family or your business?
If you look hard enough you will find an awesome deal on home cleaning. Maybe through Groupon or one of the national chains who specialize in low cost cleaning (read; cheap). Maybe I am biased, but I would rather have my home; the place where I feel safest, where my family feels safest, cleaned by someone who lives in my area. Yes, I could save a boatload of money hiring someone who offers the lowest possible rate, but the next time they come, will I have the same people? Will it be the people I already know and who know my home? There is value in having the same people come to your home every time.
This is where relationships become priceless.