When shopping for a retail product at three local stores it makes sense to purchase the cheapest one. The exception to this might be when that’s the least convenient. Say, the furthest of the three stores, or the worst traffic in getting there.

Regardless of the store you purchase it at, it likely came off the same production line. This is generally true of products that you purchase. While some products are manufactured regionally, Budweiser is bottled here in Jacksonville but also bottled at other facilities across the US, they are produced to exacting standards and are homogenous products.

Many website, including Amazon, Zappos, Priceline and others, are built on the proposition that the item being purchased (the product, pair of shoes, hotel room, or flight) are homogenous. So, price is all you need to compare when shopping.

This ‘Best Price Wins’ mindset doesn’t work for non-homogenous products (think wine, fresh produce, or a quaint B&B), and for home, personal and professional services. Focusing only on price is not the best approach when you want a nice bottle of wine for your anniversary. Would you want the cheapest (often meaning least experienced) lawyer representing you in court? Would you want the guy trained yesterday packing your parachute today?

While these examples certainly make sense with rational readers, I continue to be both amazed and discouraged by the number of folks I speak with, via calls, at shows, or in public, who’s only question is some variation of ‘what might my project cost’? This is certainly a reasonable question once experience, reputation and qualifications are understood, but without understanding experience, reputation and qualifications, any discussion of cost is meaningless.

One’s degree of experience is a pedigree. If the business opened Monday, how do you judge that? If the business opened 10 years ago, and is still operating, this tells you far more. You want to know who is good, better and best.

Reputation actually works hand in hand with their experience. If somebody has been doing their thing for 10 years they’ve developed a reputation. Online reviews are great for confirming that reputation, as are the recommendation of friends and neighbors. Qualifications tell you they have the follow through to get things done, and qualifications also offer a degree of assurance. Would you want a surgeon that’s not board certified operating on a loved one? Would you want somebody that didn’t bother to get licensed building your home?

When looking for home, personal and professional services, you really need to understand who is good, better and best. You’ll find a vast array of experience levels, good and bad reputations, niche services skills and professional qualifications, which then put any discussion of cost into a much better perspective.

If you are looking for a ‘better’ or ‘best’ service provider and only shop on price, you may get what you pay for.

Mr. Handyman – There’s simply no one like us!