Understanding the value in your service provider

This time of year, a lot of us are evaluating our service contracts with our current vendors.  Whether its perishables, dry goods, or R&M, we all have criteria that are important to us.   Most of our decisions to stay with our current provider, or go with a new vendor, are based mainly on the level of customer service, the quality of the product, and price.  The best decisions are made when you trust that the vendor you have chosen is able to deliver on all three characteristics.  I am assuming the customer in the example above got a smokin’ deal on his tattoo; I’m not too sure he’ll be happy with the quality.

Here are a few suggestions in determining the value of service providers:

Understand the market. 

There are always numerous companies out there that provide similar services.  In such, the price of the service is driven a lot by what your competitor is willing to do it for.  Do some research.  What you will find is that there has been a market value set for the product or service.  Get a few bids from different companies.  Understand why one company’s price may be higher than another.  Understand how it is that another company can offer a much lower price.

Check References.

If a company is promising the moon, make sure they can deliver.  Who better to ask than some current customers of this company?  If what they are saying is true, there should be no hesitation in them providing the name and phone number of one, or several, of their current satisfied customers.  Next, give them a call.  It’s not a job application where they are limited on the response they can give; they can be a candid as they want.  Tell them what the vendor is promising and ask them if they deliver.  Ask them how long they have been with the vendor.  Be blunt and ask if you would be happy in choosing them as a vendor.  Their response will tell you everything you will need to know.

Check Qualifications.

I can speak directly for the kitchen exhaust cleaning industry.  We have to carry and maintain a high level of liability insurance for property damage and workers compensation.  In such, this carries a considerable amount of overhead.  Make sure your provider carries sufficient insurance for your individual needs.  We also make sure our technicians pass a background check and are drug screened.  Make sure the service provider you choose understands the codes that dictate their industry.  You want to feel comfortable in your decision and the vendor you choose has the knowledge and know how to get the job done right.

I’m not sure who to feel worse for, the guy getting the tattoo, or the tattoo artist himself.  I hope the artist has a good place to hide after this guy finds a mirror.  Bottom line is, always be warry of the lowest price bid.  Arm yourself with as much information as you can to make an informed decision.  Once you have decided what characteristics are important to you and you have found a vendor that can deliver on your needs, rest assured that you have found the best value.