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Throughout our years as a design team we have been contacted frequently by individuals or brands in hopes that we can create ‘something simple’ (an illusionary term at best) for them at a cheap price point.

Somehow these individuals have mistakenly gotten the impression if our work looks cohesive or functions with ease and simplicity that it must have been simple to create. Let me be the first to say it: It’s not simple and it’s not cheap.

This isn’t anyones fault though. If you’ve never been on the receiving end of the service industry, or have never provided a service to the public for a living it’s easy to adopt the ‘Simple and Cheap’ mindset in your everyday buying experience. We have all been guilty of it at some point in our lives.

So why does it come across so negatively and distasteful any time we, as professionals, are haggled and devalued to do this simple and cheap work as if what we do is something comparable to making a microwave dinner? And how do we inform potential, new clients that our services will be never be simple or cheap and why?

The Story

I remember going to a salvage yard with my Dad when I was younger. The one we frequented was straight out of a movie. Old smoking owner in overalls covered in grease, 2 Pit Bulls on huge chains near the entrance, and rows of dead vehicles that were once pristine running machines.

We were never looking for anything that couldn’t have been purchased at the local Auto store so it always felt counter-productive that we would put more effort trying to find something minuscule in a sea of abandoned vehicles than just buying new for a few bucks more and saving the time.

When it was time to pay for our items we would even haggle with the owner. This isn’t meant to be a negative reflection of my Dad as this was a standard way of paying at the salvage yard and meant to illustrate how this particular owner viewed and operated his business.

It Felt Wrong Because It Was

Here we were on this guy’s lot, searching through his inventory, and then finally telling him how much we think we should pay for the items. We had some nerve right? But the owner allowed this type of back and forth negotiating so all good right? Yea all good for us. But not good for him in the long run.

The owner wasn’t viewing his business as a service. A service for anyone in the city to come to his lot of vehicles and pick any item they needed to get into the vehicles they chose for the prices he sets. Instead he was operating on an item to item mindset with loose and negotiable transactions.

Yea big deal so what’s wrong with that? Technically nothing, and it was his business after all. But do you think he could have made more on his items if he would have had a service based mindset instead of thinking in terms of strictly products? His items required payments of his own to operate and sell at a physical location. I would argue in most instances once you have bills of your own to keep your business operational you are now offering a service even if it’s merchandise based. Be it a salvage yard, burger joint, dry cleaners, tattoos, et al.

Side Note: Just selling items with no overhead is obviously negotiable. Auctions, Garage Sales and anything close to an non-business Ebay model encourages it. I’m not talking about those because they’re not services.

Services shouldn’t be treated as negotiable. It’s up to the provider to figure out the price and how that cost is justified to what they offer and deliver. It’s up to the buyer to find the worth, or not, in that price.
People Only See The String

So where does the simple and cheap mindset come from? As people when we see something that quickly fulfills a need and functions effortlessly we are conditioned to categorize it as ‘Simple’. And in terms of form and function it typically is in essence – Simple.

But even the simplest products or fulfillments can be extremely laborious to make. Don’t believe me? Take a trip to your local Farmers Market and ask anyone selling perfectly tasting fruits and vegetables what it took to get them in front of you to buy and eat.

When I think of simplicity I think of a single strand of string. That’s as simple as it gets right? But what did it take to get that string into your hand? Materials? Machines? Human Labor? Product Managers? Safety Inspectors? The list goes on and on.

When we make purchases we only see the string.

What Is Your Worth?

In short haggling for a service can be insulting and it ultimately makes you come across uneducated on what you are trying to purchase or invest in.

Our industry will never stop getting the simple and cheap requests but we can stop taking them seriously and try our best to educate why it’s not even an option for any potential client who asks.

In the service industry if you want things to go your way and benefit all parties you have to be honest. I’m not saying you have to broadcast all of your prices everywhere or you can’t offer deals of your own on your terms. Quite the opposite. You can certainly offer discounts, special rates, and cheaper alternatives for clients if you see fit. But you need to control and dictate that, not the buyer or investor.

For your service to have value you have to give it worth.

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