An Old One, But a Good One

Writing a weekly missive here gives me the chance to share a lot of different ideas that I’ve picked up over the five and a half decades of my life.

Often it’ll be something recent that I heard from a colleague, or based on some interaction I just had with a member of a client family I’ve been working with.

And then sometimes, like this week, it’s something that has been with me for so long that I can’t even pinpoint how and when the idea first came to me.

There are times when I believe that I’m sharing something that’s already well known, and it turns out many readers are learning it for the first time, and other times when I think that I’m writing about a “new secret”, only to discover that everyone’s already well aware of the concept.

I’m not sure where this week’s subject falls, but I do know that it’s an old one, but a good one, for me.

Good – Fast – Cheap: Pick Two (You Can’t Have All Three!)

This applies to all sorts of services that one ends up needing at some point in time, from clothing repairs to home renovation projects and from legal services to therapy.

You want good service, and you’d like it done quickly, and you prefer not to overpay for it too. And if you expect to get all three of those things at once, you’re probably out of luck.

  • If it’s good and cheap, you’ll probably have to wait for it;
  • If it’s good and fast, it will likely cost you;
  • And if it’s fast and cheap, it’s usually a crappy job.

I’m sure that there are some exceptions, but when they occur, you should be extra thankful, because they are rare.

An Unexpected Bill in the Mailbox

My daughter unwittingly provided me with an opportunity to share this with her recently, as she related a recent visit to a medical clinic.

Instead of going to the clinic at her school, which required an online appointment, a friend had told her about a nearby walk-in clinic, so that’s where she went.

She was in and out in 20 minutes, with a prescription that took care of her problem promptly.

She was quite happy with it all, until a number of days later when she found a bill for $150 in her mailbox. 

As a Canadian in the US, she was also learning first hand about the differences in our medical systems.

When I told her about the Good/Fast/Cheap quandary, she understood it right away. 

When I told her I was going to write about it here, she asked me if the example was worth $150 to me.

What About Family Enterprise Services

When a family enterprise requires the services of professionals, the same rules apply.

In fact, sometimes you may be lucky if you get two of the three, as my mind goes to families who think that they can simply purchase everything they need for their family governance from professionals who offer to write a constitution for them.

Such families pay a lot of money for that work, and end up with something that’s nearly useless.

I believe the last place you should skimp is on your family, so when you want good service you should be prepared to pay for it.

Likewise, it’s always better to do family work before it becomes urgent, because then it will cost you more for the convenience.

The place where “fast” comes into play is in responsiveness, because when you’re paying someone to serve you, promptness should be expected and included in the price.

Please Don’t Ask Me for Fast and Cheap

When people hire me, I try to make it clear that I’m not interested in fast and cheap, because that would mean that it probably wouldn’t be very good, and I’m not interested in doing shoddy work.

While I know that some colleagues charge more than I do, I know that many others charge less. 

The kind of work I do isn’t often doable quickly, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not quick to respond, it’s more about the nature of family relationships and how long it can take for sustainable changes to occur.

And of course there’s never a surprise invoice in anyone’s inbox either, because that gets worked out well in advance.