July 28, 2018

Free is better than cheap

Reader Michael Spangler wrote in to share a story about price vs value from the perspective of the buyer (shared with permission):

Hey, man! My wife’s car had a flat tire. I put the spare on, and took the flat tire to a local shop. They called me when it was fixed, and I headed that way. When I arrived at the shop the guy rolled the tire out and said “Here you go! It’s all fixed.” I said “I don’t owe you anything?”. He replied “We’re square.” I thanked him, and left. My assumption is they didn’t charge me because it was easy to fix. However, what they didn’t know was that I am leaving for Chicago - with my wife and son - in few days and I was fully prepared to pay $100+ to have a reliable spare tire. All this is to say that you’ve “infected” my thinking on price. I can’t even except some free service without seeing where someone went wrong. :p

Thanks for sharing, Michael!

Here is a quick thought inspired by this story:

The repair shop might consider freebies like a tire patch to be part of their marketing - which is a valid tactic. The thinking goes like this: if they create goodwill now by giving away a cheap tire patch job for free, you’ll come back to them when you need something expensive like a new transimisson.

But there’s another angle that you should consider...

If you want to be perceived as an in-demand expert, charging nothing is more of a power move than charging a pittance. Give teeny jobs away for free, or don’t do them at all.

Personally, I would rather send no invoice than send one that doesn’t have a comma in it.



P.S. Are your friends selling their lives away in one hour increments? Do them a favor and introduce them to value pricing. They’ll thank you for it :-)