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I LOVED this article. I have noticed this since I went into business for myself – actually in other businesses too, but really have had time to examine this with Lizardwebs. Many times our prices are lower than our competitors – I don’t believe that we provide less service – on the contrary, I believe we provide much more in most situations. At any rate, I think we have, in the past, ended up with the price shoppers – as discussed in the article and comments. And I’ll be honest, we lost our shirts on it.

Cheap Computer Fixes – Aren’t – at least for the computer service company

Old Computer - Yup, it's toast(ed)

Old Computer - Yup, it's toast(ed)

We would have people walking in with 10 year old computers that shouldn’t really have been fixed – they should have been thrown in the nearest recycling bin. Sadly some of these people brought them here because they couldn’t afford 300 bucks for a new computer which would be SOOO much faster than the 10 year old relic they were carrying in.  And I’m a sucker for a hard luck story.

A regular conversation would be about the price and could they afford the repair. On the surface, it would look like an hour tuneup type thing…  However, they usually failed to mention the virus that actually had a graphical image OF the computer virus destroying their files running across the screen… But I digress…

In order for us to do anything on the computer, due to the incredible slowness of a 10 year old machine, it would then take more than an hour of our time. Considerably much more frequently. If we told them an hour to fix the machine for $95 but in order to “do it right” it took 3, we just subsidized the customer for 190 bucks. Granted we helped a neighbor, but we need to stay in business.  And then they would get it home and the phone calls would start.  Cheap computer repair customers?  JUST SAY NO!  We have since dropped general walk-ins by moving our location away from a central dropoff spot.

While it’s always a great thing to have repeat customers ( and WE DO love our regular customers), getting locked into being the ONLY place that will fix that Windows 95 machine for customer X and not laugh is NOT a good thing – particularly if they can’t afford the 6 hours that it takes.

Cheap Websites – ALSO not a good idea

Too often cheap customers just WON'T drink

Too often cheap customers just WON'T drink

Enough on that. The article however really DID focus on customers who were “dummies” not in that they were stupid or anything, just that they didn’t know what they were doing or asking for. Sure they can be taught and educated, but too many times you just can’t make the horse drink. I had a perfect example about 6 months ago.

A customer approached, who works for a company that we do a lot of business with, about putting up a relatively simple website. And I agreed as it sounded SO simple that I felt I could knock it out in an hour or so – and would do it for just the hosting cost. Scarcely more than it would take to provision it.

Since I had actually just DONE a similar site, I knew all the keywords, phrases that it would need to make it rank on Google. Ended up creating a website for the customer that ended up taking me about 5-6 hours to get all the SEO stuff in place – if it’s going to be done, by golly, it’s going to be done RIGHT! Turned out a pretty nice site that should have ranked pretty nicely – and did it real cheap – for just the hosting cost.  Was looking forward to a hearty thank you for giving them a $750 site for hosting costs.

Since it’s included in this article posting, I bet you can guess how that turned out. Customer came back and that is NOT what they wanted. They wanted this and that and basically to do it the way they wanted – boring with no information and no text to speak of for Google – showing all the lack of knowledge that prevented them from doing their own site to begin with.

So, okay, let’s dumb it down a bit and give them the colors that they wanted. Let’s ignore marketing smarts and surveys and all that.  Customer knows best. Not sure why their kind of business that should have been green, white and natural colors should be done in all black. If I said the business type, the customer could identify themselves, so we’ll just say that all black is great for sly, in the dark, or trendy sites – NOT this kind of site. So back redoing the CSS and color scheme to make it all black.  Another 3 hours removing things and redoing things.

How’d THAT go? Not too good.

THEN the customer comes back with a Power Point slide – a single slide – and that’s exactly what they wanted. After I gave them a nice site that would rank well and save them from making a mistake. No content = no hits, no traffic, no results, no reason for being. And that usually turns into a customer that sees no reason for having a website as it doesn’t bring them any business. And THAT can often lead to a customer saying your company did a website for them that didn’t do anything and it’s all the company’s fault. They’re horrible. They don’t know what they’re doing. Etc.

So now, with about 10 hours and more going back and forth with emails and phone calls, what did I do? Create a JPG of the slide for the most part and post it as is. Hated to do it, but sometimes you just can’t make the horse drink. And how many gratis hours are you going to throw away trying? Certainly that was the end of MY gratis hours.

Does the website come up anywhere? No. Google DOES have the 1 page website listed as I still submitted it, but it doesn’t bring it up for any kind of search. The only hits have been when I or the owner went to see it. Pathetic. Period. On that particular site, we claim no “design credit” as it’s so sad. It’s an embarrassment.

Now the best offense is to weed them out before we even get to that point. We are in a good spot, and have been for a while, and have a number of websites waiting for us to get started at any given time. And when we GET one of those that seem like they just won’t be allowing us to give them the best product at a great price (for them AND us), we just don’t take it. No use causing frustration or damage to our name because we DO want to provide a quality end product – and it DOES cost money.

Here’s the original article – thanks for hitting a topic that IS near and dear to my heart – and my wallet.

http://sachagreif.com/why-cheap-customers-cost-more/