West Corporation

Posted on September 11, 2013 by West Corporation 



Cheap, Fast or Good: You Can Only Pick Two

The saying, “You can have it cheap, fast or good. Pick any two,” is one I’ve been throwing around for many years. It’s so true, as rarely, if ever, do you get the luxury of getting all three at one time when ordering or requesting any product or service. If you have been able to accomplish this, I’d love to hear from you.

Obviously, if we’re presented with a product or service that meets all three criteria, then we’ll take it in a heartbeat. I’m that shopper who always goes into a business, regardless of what I’m shopping for and says, “Give me the best thing you have at the lowest possible cost, with the highest speed to delivery,” and then we go from there. This, to me, is really saying, give me the highest quality item for my dollar, and get it to me fast.

Here’s an example. I recently purchased a grill online. I wanted the nearly top-of-the-line (no need to get crazy), high-quality grill that was four-star rated with lots of great reviews, including high ratings in Consumer Reports. My old grill was literally dead and I was left with no grill at the grilling pinnacle of the season. One would call this desperate, which is not a good position to be in when shopping for anything. After finding my grill online, I went to purchase it and was highly distraught when I found out that it was on back order for three weeks. What in the world was I going to do for three whole weeks without a grill?

But I had choices:

  • I could go to a different site and pay substantially more for the grill to get it in a week, instead of three.
  • I could pay substantially less, get a much lower quality grill, but get it delivered right away.
  • I could go to a local store that had even higher-end grills and pay substantially more to take a grill home immediately.
  • I could simply take my lumps and wait for the grill to arrive and use more archaic forms of cooking until then, such as baking, broiling, pan searing or (hold your ears) even microwaving.

In the end, I sucked it up and picked the two options that made sense for me: high quality with lowest cost and gave up “fast” option, waiting the three weeks until my amazing new Grill-asaurus (short for huge and powerful grill) showed up for in-store pick-up.

The point of all of this is that we live in an environment (business- or consumer-based) that is accustomed to instant gratification, whether it’s access to products, services, information or people. Out of “fast,” “good,” and “cheap,” the “fast” option is becoming the most prevalent option of the three as evidenced by the term “on-demand” showing up everywhere. The market demand is forcing enterprises and businesses of all sizes to come up with ways to develop products and services that meet the “fast” requirement first.

The really good companies have invested and found ways to meet this requirement and provide their products and services with the “cheap” (lower cost) option addressed to varying degrees, depending on the product or service. This has been done through lean manufacturing, driving operational efficiencies, etc., so cost savings can be passed along to the consumer. In these cases, the “good” (high-quality) element tends to suffer a bit and the flexibility in the solution or product tends to be somewhat compromised (i.e., not as many choices, features or product durability/reliability).

Due to the fact that the desire, and in many cases, the requirement, for companies to provide the highest degree of speed, quality and value (minimal cost) to the marketplace will not diminish, more and more companies are investing in all areas of their business to maximize the value equation. However, most companies aren’t there yet.

So, in closing, I’ll leave you with this. The “pick two” option is still in effect in most cases, so beware of those companies/businesses stating that they can and will meet all three of the fast, high-quality and low-cost requirements. If “cheap and fast” are your preferred options, then you WILL get what you pay for by giving up the quality piece of the equation.

In most cases, what we all really want and need is the “quality” piece of the equation. When we buy a product or service, we want it to work as advertised, and we want it to last a long-time, providing us many years of solid production and enjoyment. Therefore, taking a little extra time to ensure that the quality portion is addressed can make all the difference in the world. Hence my decision to wait for my Grill-asaurus. Believe me when I tell you, it was well worth the extra two weeks I had to wait.

West Corporation