Value of service and quality of product - kinda long
I just had a nice and lengthy conversation with one of the vendors here, talking about quite a few things knife related and a couple of things more business related. One of the things that we talked about was quality of service and value of a product.
I have long been the type of person who will pay a percentage more for a product that I perceive as being better. I will also choose to do business with a person who provides good service before and after the purchase over someone who is just working the sales to make a buck.
This got me thinking about how some people will jump on a less expensive product simply because of price. For me, I would rather wait until I can afford to buy what I really want versus settle for something that I can afford today.
What I am wondering is where does everyone here draw the line at between buying something from an accomplished maker or artisan for $400-$500 which will be made to his or her specifications versus going to the local brick and mortar and getting a name brand production item for $200-$300 that is lacking the level of fit and finish or is not exactly what a person truly wants.
Is that extra $200 worth it or is it wasted since; after all, we are just talking about a knife.
Also, how do you put a price on service? I just spent nearly two hours talking to this man and he did not make a single dollar off of me for taking a HUGE chunk out of his day. In fact, he even promoted one personís product over his own and mentioned another maker who might be able to get me what I want a bit quicker.
Maybe it is just me, but I am more inclined to spend my money with someone who provides service like this, albeit more expensive, rather than go to a place like Wal-Mart where everything is cheaper and get crap for service.
For what it is worth, this person will be getting my business once I have the disposable income.
Disclaimer: I am not bashing any company or vendor, nor am I promoting one. I am just wondering other peopleís opinions. If the vendor I spoke to would like to come forward, I have no problem with that. I have nothing but good things to say about this person and the products I have received from him, as I am sure 99.9% of the people here do as well. I didnít want to mention names since I just want to know how others here in this community think about the concepts or ideas that I have presented without bias, not about how good of a vendor someone might be.
I think value and service is a great thing and I love spending my time and money with those guys. I think most of the guys on this forum are exactly like that. In every dealing I've ever done - Both recent and new - every person has been willing to answer questions, respond promptly, and seemed genuinely interested in talking.
If one person on this forum sold the same products as some other online store (for comparable money) I would easily choose the forum member.
As far as spending 500 dollars on a custom compared to 300 dollars on some other high-end knife that all comes down to preference. I don't think that is a matter of Customer Service. I love spending money on customs/mid-techs and its more than just because of the customer service. I get options and choices which is great because in the end I get what I want.
I give preference to people I like, and I like people who care about what they do, what they sell, and whom they're dealing with. Good service, I feel, is an offshoot of that attention to doing good in far more ways than just the money.
By contrast, I have a relative whom I will not buy from because I don't trust him and he doesn't care what he sells to whom as long as he makes money it.
For me, it's not just a matter of will I pay a premium, it can often be a matter of do I buy anything from you at all.
It's not service itself that gets me to spend $300, $500, whatever. It's the focus and attention on excellence, which results in an excellent product *and* excellent service. It's not much a line between custom/ semi-custom versus production - I really like knives from both "sides". I just acknowledge that more attention too details will rightfully cost more to buy.
In principle, I have absolutely no problem paying a lot more for "value added" in this way. The only problem is sometimes it is hard to tell if a given vendor is really giving you value added. I've had a lot of conversations with vendors on this board and elsewhere that I wouldn't consider value added. It gets worse when you put your time and effort into giving very precise instructions only to have them ignored. I think it's important to keep in mind that "artisans" are often people who have very strong inclinations to doing things a certain way, sometimes for reasons that aren't particularly rational. I'm not saying it's always bad but it can be frustrating.
2 hours? If it were me there'd have to be a gun to my head. More power to them.
I am more than willing to pay for the extra F&F etc. Service isnt the reason in most cases. I like unique items, than I find aesthetically pleasing. Now that doesnt mean someone else might not hate my choices. I choose to buy Stefan handles when I can, not for need, but for pure delight as an example. I see several custom knives in my future.
I provide a service that required 8+ years of college + ongoing ed to maintain a license to practice, so I'm tuned in to value for your dollar. I'm kind of like the vendor the OP described but limit calls to a more reasonable 15 min. Anything going toward 30 min. and you need to pay me for my skills.
As a small businessman I try to do business with people in my community. It cultivates relationships and I'm contributing to the local economy even if it costs a bit more sometimes.
For specialty items like the hearing aids I need, service is #1. For mass market highly competive items, like electronics I go for the lowest price as long as the dealer is reputable.
Depends on supply risk and strategical risk. As a professional purchaser I like to put products into a matrix. A very known matrix is Kraljic Matrix. There are several versions of the matrix, and those who know it, also know how to use it.
Here is a version:
I say it this way. If its a knife from a brand everyone sells, the building a close relationship is totally idiotic. The more less common a brand is the more important it is to build relationships. As the world grows global, we seem to accept less margins to our suppliers and also less relationship. We also want to have things faster and with better quality.
I see how a customer can build close relation to a supplier like Jon Broida, who offers not only knives that are less common, but he also put a lot into sharpening and guiding the customer.
Mark does the other way. Less margins, delivering faster. This way he compete in a different marked. He is also web based, and therefor keeps in competition with the whole world. Customer satisfaction is important, but not critical like Jon B.
Important for customer to build close relations. One of a kind knife is unique and therefor close relationship is important. Fewer buyers and those who buy might buy more than once
In short terms: Depends on product. If you only buy mass produced there is no point in getting to personal, unless the vendor offers something unique like sharpening services or other things you as a customer will depend on
Very well said and very astute. Best explanation I have seen. I'm going to have to plagiarize in the future.
I was thinking at work today about how people complain about a coke being a dollar and a half. How much LESS do you want to spend? A 50cent coke? A dollar is ten minutes of minimum-wage labor--if you walk 5 minutes to get to a soda machine and walk back, that should be enough effort to be equal to the beverage? Kind of nuts if you ask me.
That is the heart of the issue--mass marketeers can sell their cheapo, made-for-factory-ease knives at yesterday's prices, and a whole new variety of crap. Knifemakers have to make a living, and therefore demand a fair price for honest work.
What happened to "if it sounds too good to be true it probably is", "you don't get something for nothing", "you get what you pay for" and "buy nice, or buy twice"? These facts have not changed...people just want to buy a Blue #2 Deba for a hundred bucks because hamburgers pretend to be $1 and Wal-Mart pretends to charge $5 for a DVD.