How to Get Everything You Want Without Paying Extra For It
Everyone wants it. No one wants to pay for it.
We all want the biggest, best and fastest, but we only want to pay for last year's model.
I'll be the first to admit that I can be
cheap frugal when it comes to many purchases: I don't care about the label on the headache medicine; I just want to get rid of the headache! I've always heard the pills are made in the same factory anyways, so as long as it's FDA approved and safe, I'd rather pay less. I expect to get the same benefit from generic ibuprofen as the name brand.
But when it comes to big ticket items, I know that quality counts. I plan to live in my home for a long time, so I want to be able to enjoy it, and for my family to feel safe and secure. I'm willing to pay more for a quality, custom home.
So you can imagine my surprise when I was having a conversation with a potential customer and he told me my products would last too long for what he needs.
That's right, the Director of Plant Operations and Maintenance told me that he didn't need any new equipment that lasted as long as ours. (I was talking with him about an air handler that has a 40 year warranty.)
One of my team members and I were getting a site tour of his facility. Riding up to the 8th floor, we made small talk about the age of the building (about 20 years). It seemed like a good time to talk about the warranty we offered (40 years). Anything to get through that awkward silence you get in an elevator.
When I mentioned the 40 year warranty, he straightened up and took notice. "Forty years? As in, four-zero?"
"Yes sir, forty!"
"I thought that's what you said. Well I don't need a 40 year warranty."
The (hopefully) momentary dumbfounded look on my face made him say it again: "I don't really need a 40 year warranty. I need about 15 years."
The salesperson part of my brain was scrambling for an answer (What? Does he want me to offer a discount for less warranty? Can I do that? I don't think I can do that!). Meanwhile, the human half of my brain figured out what he meant.
I figured his age to be late 40s to early 50s. Ahhhh, I get it! He'll retire in 15 years. After that, he doesn't care what happens to the expensive equipment that runs his entire operation!
The elevator door opened with a loud ring, jarring the two halves of my brain together as I chuckled at his joke.
Needs and Wants
The rest of the meeting went great, and that evening as I was working on the proposal, I remembered what he had said about only needing a 15 year warranty.
I knew what he meant. A 40 year warranty is unheard of, perhaps even overkill. A 15 year warranty is still outstanding. As long as he leaves the operation in good shape, it doesn't matter to him what happens later. He'll be on that white sand beach we've all heard of.
Yet, it struck me as very profound. Not that he was short-sighted, or didn't care about the future of the company he works for. But that he was saying he wanted the level of quality that best suited his needs. He needed it to work great for 15 years, and that's it.
The odd thing was: If he had purchased our equipment 20 years ago, he wouldn't need to buy our equipment today. He would only be halfway through his warranty period. I'm sure the irony wasn't lost on him.
Forest for the Trees
But I was trying to see the big picture that I knew was there, somewhere.
Forget about the warranty, the marketing terms and the glossy brochure. He could be anyone, in any industry. He has a specific need that affects his business. He is trying to decide what to do, what path to take.
And that's when I realized that he had a need, an expectation, and he was willing to pay to have that need met. In his case, his need was clean, HEPA-filtered air supplied to his facility. He was tired of old, dirty, leaky air handling units. But this could have been anyone, anywhere: A sales manager who needs a new marketing plan, a contractor who needs reliable transportation for his work crew, a middle-age professional who needs new career training.
We can quantify these needs until we're blue in the face: How much? How big? How fast? But at the end of the day, we want it to work. When things work the way we expect, they make us happy.
As I sat in my home office, I stopped for a moment and looked around. This is my family's home. I didn't pay more because we got R-30 insulation, or thicker crown molding. We purchased this house for quality. We purchased because it's what we wanted and needed. It will serve our purposes better than anything else could.
Get to the Point
At MonMan, we partner with the best-of-breed manufacturers. Doing so allows us to serve our customers better than anyone else. While we can usually offer a solution that actually IS better, faster, and more efficient, that's not our end goal. Our end goal is to solve our customers' problems and to meet their needs in the years ahead.
As I put the finishing touches on the proposal, I thought about what he had said. After telling me that a 40 year warranty was not necessary and that our efficiency rating was higher than their in-house mandate, he asked me how we did it. "What's your secret?" he asked. I looked at him: "There's no secret, it's just better quality. Anyone could do it, but few actually do."
Anyone can buy a commodity with all the right buzz words surrounding it. But for mission critical professionals with an eye to the future, there is no substitute for quality: a quality product and service, and a quality partner in your business. That's MonMan. It's what we do.
And as for the customer, he still only plans to stick around 15 more years. As for the warranty, he said he'll take our word for it. Maybe in 40 years, I'll send a postcard to that white sand beach with a picture of the equipment he purchased, saying...."Wish You Were Here!"