If you own a business you probably have, at some time or another, been faced with a decision; doing something the right way or doing it the easy (“most cost-effective”, if you will) way. In that regard, we can all feel just a little twinge when we read the stories coming out about recently leaked emails regarding BP’s handling of events just days before it’s Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and touched off the worst environmental disaster to ever hit this country. Safer and more prudent gave way to cheaper and faster, apparently.
But you don’t have to be CEO of a multi-national corporation to understand the dilemma faced by BP execs. Who among us has ever had a home improvement project gone horribly wrong because we wanted to get it done faster or cheaper? If you are saying no, you are a liar! I remember several years ago, when I was living in Omaha, Nebraska. I wanted to build this elaborate Bar-B-Que grill area, so I dug and leveled and bought a bunch of brick. I was not a mason, but figured I had chosen the best products I could afford. I was so excited to get the job done that I neglected to read up on mortar and the proper way to mix and apply it. The next day, I was proudly showing it off to a neighbor. He was older and worked as a handyman and I suppose I was a little envious of his abilities. He walked around it a couple of times, sizing it up, and then he took a step back. He raised his leg and planted his boot dead square on one of the walls. I’m not sure which fell faster, the wall or my spirits, but in the end, both lay in a heap on my patio. If I had just taken the time to learn a little more, this scene would have never taken place.
Conventional wisdom holds that the faster and cheaper you can do a job, the more profit that you will make. I would disagree to some respect. I believe the more satisfied the customer, the more profit you will make, in the long run. If we lose a couple of dollars in profit by taking a little more time, we will absolutely gain that back when our customer refers us to a friend or family member.
This translates to life as well. A good reputation will gain you much more profit than a poor one. If you are known as someone who is trustworthy, dependable or willing to help out, the odds that you will get those same qualities back to you, should you ever need them, are increased tenfold than if you are known as someone who is unwilling to put forth the effort to live your life the “right way”. Just ask my neighbor in Omaha. After he finished laughing at my masonry work, he spent the rest of that day and most of the next helping me to scrape bricks, salvaging what we could, and showing me the proper way to build a quality bar-b-que pit. The profit in friendship was enormous!