I stuggled with the issue I want to blog about this week and relaxed when I remembered that not every blog has to be related to security and what we do as security professionals.
My struggle was because of what I consider another type of crime, not only for our business, but for most small business's these days and I want your feedback.
What I am talking about is a new kind of consumer who comes into our shop to steal our knowledge and time, and then purchases our recommendation on the internet or big box store. Sometimes, with new technology they will even pull out their iPhones and scan the price on the product we pull after we tell them what they need.
When they call on the phone we will often ask them to bring in a picture of their door, lock, measurements,etc. At times we spend up to an hour with them. Some of the time is spent with them is research and often showing the do-it-yourself people how to install stuff when they want to save money on our service call.
I am not bothered by price comparison shopping, I do it myself when I already know what I want. What infuriates me is when they need our knowledge and expertise and are not willing to pay a bit more for the value added service. They know a small business, especially brick and mortar, cannot compete with the internet but quite frankly they don't care.
So, here is the deal and my question: At what point, in this new age of consumerism, do we start to charge consulting fees when we are being used and abused?
No business can continue to exist when they spend their limited time and limited resources with these consumers from hell. The sad question for you is that when businesses like ours are no longer around, where will you go to get your professional advice?
When the internet or big box stores become your only choice, how many trips are you willing to make, or returns for internet purchases because you bought the wrong lock, the wrong back size, the wrong template, the wrong everything?
Do you think the time will come when these consumers realize that sometimes, spending more will really cost them less? Not only in dollars but in time?
We will never go mobile only but you can see why many do and these are the companies that are here today and gone tomorrow. I really want your help on this because if there is a reasonable and fair way to charge for consultation, I want to know when and how to do it.
We pay a lot for rent and to provide a location to offer you the most for your money. We want to know we are spending our time with serious consumers who value our knowledge.
What would you do?
Yours in Security,
Vikki Flam-Flam's Lock and Key