Tuesday, January 21, 2014

There’s Still Hope: "Economically Viable Projects"

Giving your work for free?
Conversations about "how much should I charge for my professional services" has been around us throughout the whole life and happen in almost all professional areas, especially those where the price to pay for someone’s services is at the discretion of the one who offers, and is a discussion that can last for many hours, and even more when you gather representatives from both sides: the "selling cheaper I can get more customers" side and its counterpart, the "I’m not working for free" side.

As for me, I completely identify with Oscar Del Santo’s opinion in his blog post, entitled "‘All in two hours’ or how to discredit internet professionals"(in Spanish) and I identify myself, first as a deep defender of market freedom: each person does with his knowledge what he wants and sells it at the price he wants, and I also put myself completely on the side of those who try to protect and recognize the value of professional knowledge and experience.

And if each person has the right to do whatever it wants with its knowledge, it’s also true that that person has to bear with the consequences of its actions, whether these only affect that person alone or harm others who, on the same token, are also engaged on the same professional activity, thus generating a negative reputation for “the offender”.

What do I mean?

It's time to take on only projects that are "economically viable"

It's a statement I have been very familiar with for most of my professional career but took a very nice turn for me when heard it coming from a beloved friend, Patricia Sánchez Pardo, while we’re having a couple of beers and “tapas” with Pilar Perez Baz and her husband, at Santiago de Compostela.

Listening to an extraordinarily prepared and young professional like Patricia, who is truly a specialist in these issues of digital marketing and so forth, say that she’s not willing to get involved in projects that aren’t “economically viable", at her age, and during times when the things we see more frequently on the market are offers like "All in just two hours" as shown in Oscar’s post, or "All for 50 €" truly lit up my day and filled it with new hopes.

It’s necessary to vindicate the value of your work.

And I'm hopeful because I continuously see that this desire to restore the value of people’s work, professional training, the hours spent on a specific project, the value added to each of your clients after you offer them your expertise and advice as a consultant in the area of ​​your specialty, is becoming increasingly present not only in casual conversations as the one we had in Santiago, but also in specialized blogs like Oscar’s.

And that means a change is on its way.

But what do we mean by "Economically Viable Projects"?

It’s a project that is considered, first economically feasible, one that can be accepted and implemented, therefore can also be considered profitable. In short: the time investment you will make in such project will produce an amount of money that is in accordance with what you expect to receive in exchange for your professional value or, in the case of a company, to the professional value of it’s team.

Does that sound too complicated? Well, it's very simple indeed.

Like all products in the market , you have a tag price.

And it’s true. Like anything else and all products in the market, there is a price you’re expecting to charge for your professional work, which usually translates into an hourly rate , or a fee per project, it’s basically the same. 

If the money you're going to charge for a project, or the salary some company is offering you is well below the one you’re expecting, then the project (or the job offering we’re referring to) is not "economically viable" for you.

All things, all products, including yourself as a service provider, have a price below which they can’t (or shouldn’t) be sold. Give it a try. Go to a car dealership and tell them you want to offer € 5000 for the model they have on display, which is tagged at € 15,000.

It’s not going to happen, believe me. Maybe you can get through and negotiate a rebate or a discount, but you will not get them to accept the price you’re offering simply because such offer is well below the minimum price they can accept for it.

Well, in your professional life, it happens the same way.

Unfortunately, there will always be someone who’ll do it for less money than you.

As there will also be someone who charges more money than you do. And that’s the freedom I was referring to at the beginning of this post. Following the same thought process, on job interviews you will always be told (especially during these hard times) "You know what? There are at least fifty more people behind you who are willing to work for the salary we offer or even less"

Your offer me what you feel like. I accept it because I need it badly.

And it is the sad game we're seeing today out on the street with companies offering ridiculous salaries, clients who want you to do the job for even less money than they would pay for having someone to polish their shoes. 

And unfortunately there are those who are willing to take those offers and give away their work or even work for a miserable salary. That not only harms the industry and the economy as a whole, but also harms themselves.

I understand, I really do, there are thousands of reasons, a lot of them, to lower prices and thereby try to get more customers, especially during the crush we are living, and there are also a number of reasons to accept jobs with salaries so low than in normal circumstances, you would even consider them as a disrespectful action towards you as a professional.

But remember that by accepting such situations, you will not only hurt the industry you’re working on, but will also contribute to get clients (or employers) used to always seek for the cheapest labor regardless of the professional value of each prospect, and also, your projects (or jobs) hardly would end up being "economically viable projects” for you, meaning they will never be profitable, neither allow your company to grow.

And what about the job you accepted for which you are being paid a salary that barely allows you to pay your electric bill and monthly apartment’s rental rate? Would it help you build a better world for you and your family? Will it help to reactivate the economy by increasing purchasing power of ordinary people?

So from this corner of the world, my little space to share and chat, I join my voice to that of those who recommend "to always get involved in projects that are economically viable" and let others fight for scraps. If you come across a client who does not really value what you’re offering, then that is not a client for you.

I recommend you reading Oscar Del Santo’s post (in Spanish):

Related articles in this blog:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Great Customer Experience Is Your Best Business Card

A place worth to recommend.
If there is something I'm convinced of is that a personal, genuine recommendation is worth more than all paid advertising in the world, specially when done spontaneously, voluntarily, without any prior commitment or obligation of any kind, whether economic, professional or even personal on the recommender’s side.

And this is the case that occupies me today and which I want to share with you: A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to stay in a hotel located right downtown in a city that has captivated me for its beauty, Santiago de Compostela, to which I will sure return with my wife and kids, and certainly with great pleasure.

Anyway, my stay in this hotel proved to be one of those experience well worth not only to repeat, but to recommend and share with you, and that's what I’ll be doing.

Everything must start with a good product that does what it's supposed to do.

And since this was the hotel chosen for a business trip, the main use I would make of it was very simple: TO SLEEP!

After each day's work and after sharing with friends, the idea I had was to get to the hotel, take a good shower and simply go to sleep, to rest, throw my bones on the bed and enjoy all available hours to recharge my batteries and wake up as fresh as new, fully prepared for next day’s job.

And in my case, the comfort of the room, its decor, lighting, the arrangement of all various details, the towels in the bathroom, the quality and softness of the bedding, pillows, well ... all of it conspired to offer me an opportunity to enjoy four nights of deep sleep, relaxation and full recovery of my energies. And I don’t mean it was a humongous, luxurious room, quite the contrary. A very simple room, but tasteful room .

Point number one, fully accomplished: The product did what it was supposed to do, and did it in an extraordinary way, that’s why you can see my “I’m happy” face on the side picture.

Then we have to move on to the experience surrounding product use or what people like to named “value added”: food and service.

One of the nights I had scheduled a get together with some friends and we agreed to meet at the Cathedral of Santiago’s main entrance, to enjoy a couple of drinks and share a bit of good energies together.

Since I'm not familiar with the area and it was completely dark when I arrived at the hotel, I was disoriented and didn’t know in which direction I had to walk to get to meeting point with my friends.

The hotel’s receptionist very kindly offered me all the information I needed so that I did not get lost in the area, and even recommended me a store I could go to buy a little something I wanted to offer my fellow coworkers.

She even took a pencil and drew the route on a map, so I couldn’t possibly make any mistake, even though the distance separating the hotel from the Cathedral of Santiago should not exceed 500 meters.

Remember, I am not from the area and the night was pitch dark ;-D

Based in my experience, dining in the hotel during a business trip is an optional thing you can either do or just eat out, wherever is more convenient to you.

During my stay, and to my complete satisfaction, I decided to take breakfast at the hotel the whole three days I stayed there and I don’t regret it at all: well-educated, attentive waiters, willing to offer a satisfying customer experience, going beyond what their immediate duties are to make me feel comfortable and at ease.... that’s customer service.

And then the food, carefully prepared, beautifully presented at least for my eyes, all clean .... really nice.

I know I could have taken a better picture, but when I took this one, I had not yet considered the possibility of writing this post, so... you understand.

You can be excellent even in the small things.

Note that although it was only breakfast, I mean, a simple meal, hotel managers did their best to take advantage of the opportunity and use it to create a remarkable, highly impacting customer service experience.

And I almost forget to mention that the last day of my stay, they got a taxi outside of the hotel to take me to the airport and opened the kitchen early to prepare my breakfast. What more can you ask for?

And finally, what all businesses want: The recommendation.

And before I sincerely invite you to visit this hotel on your next trip to Santiago de Compostela, I want to emphasize the process that generated my recommendation:

  • A product that does what it is supposed to do, in a more than satisfactory manner.
  • A proposal of additional services and added values ​​that complements and openly benefits overall customer experience with your product.

If the quality of the rooms had not been good, I would not have been able to sleep well or deeply rest as I wanted, therefore none of the other things would have happened and my experience with the product would have been negative.

Everything else was just an addition for a product that completely met my expectations and offered me what I was expecting to receive from it.

Don’t forget that. As I wrote in a previous post:

Brand loyalty begins with a positive product experience .

And now I offer you the contact information for the place where I did stay so that you can stay there on your next trip to Santiago. And tell them I did recommend you :-D

Hotel Costa Vella.
Calle Puerta de la Peña, 17
Santiago de Compostela.

Related articles in this blog :
The Deep Relationship Between Expectations, Experience and Your Business Success
Advertising: The Power of a Testimonial.