I had a call with a prospective client yesterday; a call I’ve had hundreds of times before. The same question, it seems, is on a lot of people’s minds.
The caller was from one of the largest most prestigious law firms in NYC. He had a “strange request,” which I assured him would be quite normal for our service since we specialize in transportation most car services don’t ordinarily handle.
A Client Faced With a Price vs. Value Decision
His request, which seemed “strange” to him, was actually quite routine for us. He had five lawyers who needed to be picked up in Manhattan, at their office and transported 2 hours away to a client in Connecticut. Once we arrive there, we needed to wait about four hours before returning the lawyers back to their Manhattan headquarters. As I explained to the caller, long distance work that lasts all day is the core of our business, and it’s where, we find, we add the most value.
He seemed very intrigued by our service and our custom Mercedes Sprinters that are, in essence, mobile boardrooms. He liked our qualifications and commitment to client service. He liked the emphasis on hospitality. This was going really well!
I was confident that he would become a client. However, when we quoted him our price, he balked and said “whoa, that is more than double what I was quoted by our current provider”.
I knew his current provider, and they are a high quality chauffeured transportation company. That said, there are still major differences in the service we offer:
1. The low price the other company quoted was misleading.
They add on all sorts of fuel surcharges, fees, and other service fees that can often add 30-40% more to the low advertised price in the final bill. In our opinion, this is dishonest and unappealing.
We prefer to quote the actual price you are charged even if it causes one to pause and maybe even pass on our offering. We believe strongly in our quality, value added service and appreciate loyal, like-minded clients who believe similarly in transparency and a client-centric experience.
2. The other company’s vans were not nearly comparable in functionality or comfort.
In our experience, many buyers are of the mindset that a chauffeured executive service is merely providing a means to an end. A lot of clients who come to us, view chauffeur service as merely getting executives transported from A to B.
Therefore, a more comfortable ride or more luxurious interior is superfluous and unnecessary. However, the configuration and layout of a van is far more important. We have several different configurations of our Mercedes Sprinter vans ranging from mobile offices (Our Brilliant Van) to business class seating (Our Executive Van).
By far, the biggest difference in ordinary transportation, and what we specialize in and provide daily, is the value added proposition. Simply put, our value added proposition is:
The Cost of Losing Productivity During Transit
What is the cost of taking 5 lawyers and placing them in an environment where they are uncomfortable and cannot be productive for 4 hours?
Is that a free proposition?
Isn’t there an opportunity cost associated with doing so?
For instance, at a bare minimum, the law firm is losing whatever they pay these lawyers for these 4 hours of unproductive time. Multiply that by 5 lawyers and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize it’s a BIG loss.
By merely putting them in a mobile office environment, and enabling them to be productive, the law firm gains a half day of labor and productivity times 5 lawyers! If you conservatively assume that each lawyer earns $250,000 per year, that is $1250/day or $625 / half day. Multiply this by 5 lawyers and the ‘cost’ alone of being unproductive for half a day is $3125.
The Cost of Missing the Big Picture
The previous example is very literal and misses the big picture.
The real cost of placing these lawyers in an unproductive environment is lost opportunity, and that value could be millions of dollars.
For example, if these lawyers were placed in a comfortable mobile office environment, using their laptops on our fold-out desks, staying constantly charged using our electric outlets, and online via our onboard WiFi, and they held a client-focused meeting en route, how much better would that client meeting be?
If they spent 2 hours en route, huddled together and had a mobile conference about the meeting they were headed to, what is the increased chance of winning the case? Are they more likely to gain a new client when they use that 2 hours to prepare?
As an executive in my prior life, I can assure you every single presentation I ever gave would have benefited from two additional hours of preparation with my team. Often people prepare individually, in a harried fashion and rarely do these busy lawyers or executives put aside two hours together specifically to address the client meeting they are about to attend. We’ve all seen the commercial: this additional preparation is priceless!
Once I went over these items and elaborated on our value added proposition, the buyer agreed that, in fact, our service was “inexpensive” relative to the competition insofar as the actual monetary transaction would be a higher price, but the value received was far greater than the cost differential.
As Warren Buffett has said: “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”
At Brilliant, we understand the importance of being productive, comfortable, and able to be effective even while on the road. In fact, this is the primary purpose of our company. To enable our clients to reclaim their down time, and help them turn transit times into highly productive and enjoyable experience; both for business and for pleasure.
Give us a call at 800-543-1001. It would be our pleasure to introduce you to a brilliant way of travel!