When is a Bargain not a Bargain?

I’ve been thinking about some stuff I wanted to share with you, I’m worried you see, a little concerned you could say, about our state of mind when it comes to being a retailer and a customer.

Everyone I speak to is trying really hard to get their sales up but at what cost? Is cheapening their services the right way forward?

If you've priced your products correctly in the first place then how can you reduce them even as an enticement?

A friend of mine in the catering industry was telling me that she has reduced some of her prices, created some special offers, however, this is the bit that frightens me, in order to reduce the price she has had to reduce her standards/ quality because it would be impossible to cheapen her prices otherwise, the pound is rubbish, as we all know the cost of raw materials has gone up, holiday entitlement has been increased in turn increasing the cost of labour, so she has no option. Link to read more

The concern with this is that standards will drop, we’ll become a nation of mediocrity not specialists, everything will be done on the cheap, no-one will value truly skilled people.

I read a blog recently suggesting that readers/brides take advantage of offers from a variety of Beauty professionals, one offer was for a full manicure with a free pedicure, another offered £10.00 off their spray tan price and another offered free back massage with each facial (Both of which were done by an un qualified apprentice), in other words the readers should go to each Beauty Therapist taking advantage of their special offers. I’m not a beauty therapist but I do understand these offers are to entice us, the consumer to use their other services at full price and so we should, because if we don’t, not one of these independently owned businesses will survive if all we buy from them is a non-profit making offer!
Picture Source Link

My father was of the old school of flower buying and selling, he bought our flowers from the then buoyant wholesale and growers markets at Smithfield in Manchester, he used to bid and barter, negotiate and generally drive a hard bargain.

However,one of the most important lessons he taught me was always pay what you know to be a fair price for a beautiful flower, and that’s the skill bit, everyone can try to get things cheaper, but if you drive too hard a bargain the grower won’t send to Manchester, he’ll send to Covent Garden instead and we’ll be left with lots of second rate cheap stuff like the Supermarkets sell.

Another one of his little gems was this “It’s much better to be a really good customer of a few suppliers than a poor customer of many” . Who gets the best colours, quality, first delivery, best designer? the answer is simple, the really good customer of course!

I never ever understand the thinking behind reduced old flowers, they are dead, why buy them, but people do. However with any fresh product there can be gluts, particularly in the spring, if the weather gets warm early, the tulips and daffodils shoot up, the price is cheap to move the flowers along so the consumer can take advantage of “Mother Nature” no harm done, these natural offers are the ones we’ve all been taking advantage of for 100’s years and long may it continue.

So the point is this, when is a bargain really a bargain?

Do we as consumers just want things to be as cheap as possible irrelevant of the actual cost to our services, or do we value these skilled professionals, have “things” less often but done properly? I know which I’ll be going for, and I will, when I can, continue to support those services who do the job properly with a qualified, valued and trained team!


Anonymous said…
A saying which I like to live by is 'You buy cheap, you buy twice' and time and time again I seem to be proved correct
Sprout said…
I love your wordy post! Very thinky as Husband would say. ;-)

I know as a business person I should be hunting down bargains all the time, reviewing my bills, looking for deals, and honestly, there are some things I'm sure I pay more for, but I like the service, or the person behind the service, and sometimes it is the fair price.

With flowers, I find so many couples shopping solely on price for their wedding flowers which I guess is fine if the only thing that matters is price. I'd like to think that there are factors besides the cost that matter, but maybe I'm delusional?

I do worry that with price being the consumers main concern, that traditional florists will truly be priced out by big box and supermarkets some day. Is it too much to hope that people will realize what they're doing to the fabric of their cities and towns if all of us small businesses are gone some day? Can't they see what that will look like????

Lesley said…

Love your blog and agree totally with your 'wordy post'. I'm a photographer in the NW and trained for 5 years before starting my business. Being asked to provide bargain basement prices devalues the service, creativity and work that we have put in our businesses.

As you said so well, if you have priced your services well in the first place, how can you reduce them?

I'm happy that I'm not the only person way feels this way. Let's stick together! I look forward to working on the same wedding with you one day!
ABC Video Blog said…
I’m a firm believer of the saying 'you get what you pay for' - even in our business, video production, there are those that are 'bargain basement.' We're certainly not the cheapest and we do struggle sometimes to compete for price on wedding films as we are VAT registered and there are a lot of videographers out there that aren't. But I guess I'm ever the optimist and think that if the customer likes what you do and the product you offer they will purchase from you...if they don't, because you won't discount your price, then it's their loss...
Certainly with our corporate clients they appreciate the service and quality of product they receive and don't quibble over the price, as they do seem to have more appreciation of what goes in to the end product. Long may the discerning customer continue...

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