It is no secret or mysterious phenomenon that one of the primary matters consumers must consider when making a purchase is price. Whether it’s buying a car, a new cell phone, or a vacuum cleaner–people compare prices of items they want to buy every single day. But is cost the number one driving factor in how we make buying decisions? It’s imperative to consider other equally important factors that add VALUE to our regular purchases.

How long will this last me?

Is it supported by the manufacturer and the seller, and for how long?

Can I trust the seller to be responsive to my questions and meet my needs?

Is this truly the right product to solve my problem, or just the cheapest option?

These are all questions that require careful consideration, and sometimes some expert knowledge, when making technology purchases for your business as well.

The too good to be true factor

If you’ve gathered multiple quotes for comparison’s sake, and one vendor is able to sell a product markedly cheaper than their competition, you need to raise two questions. How? And Why? Chances are, if quotes are not comparable, you’re not comparing the same things. An experienced integrator is not going to jack up the price of hardware, knowing consumers comparison shop. That’s how you lose deals. So what is the bottom dollar quote not including? Are they undercutting estimated installation time that they will have to tack on at the end when the work takes longer? Are they not including the cost of engineering the solution because they don’t have an actual engineer designing the project? (Spoiler alert– this will be obvious upon install!) Are they subbing in lesser equipment under the pretense that it’s “the same?” Be honest about exactly what you want. Keep an open line of communication with any integrators you are considering working with–if you trust one company to do great work and take care of your needs, but they are more expensive, have a conversation about the value of the job. Discuss what features are necessary for your purpose and which you could perhaps forego at this time. You may find that your “higher priced guy,” knows something you don’t. Or you may find they are willing to wiggle to win your business.


Support after the purchase

You would never buy a vehicle and expect that to be the last time you see the dealership. In the same vein, it wouldn’t make sense to purchase a high quality sound system (or phone system,  security system, etc.) and expect that it won’t need to be properly maintained for optimal performance. Make sure the integrator you have chosen can provide a technology management plan to ensure you have technical support for day to day use, as well as if something should go wrong. Yes, maintenance packages cost additional money. But what is the cost of your business being halted for the day (or longer!) while you try to find someone available to troubleshoot your issue, or repair or replace a part that could have been covered under a reasonable maintenance plan? And remember, not all maintenance plans are created equal…someone selling you super cheap “maintenance” because the equipment has a warranty is not the same thing as an agreement for on-site and remote help when the chips are down.

The “Big Box” problem

I can go into a large retailer and buy an item off the shelf for a lower price than I could at a small, family-owned  drugstore. I might even be able to buy that big-box store’s generic version of the same thing for even less! That is just the way modern consumerism works. But when I walk in, I’m on my own to decide exactly what to purchase, and I’m on my own when I walk out the door with it. Noone there cares who I am, what I bought, and if i use it properly later. Now that is all well and good for a bottle of Ibuprofen. But the same is not so for major technology investments. I need an expert’s advice when outfitting my conference room with a new video conferencing system or upgrading my server to meet the demands of my company’s growth. I need an integrator I can trust to point me in the right direction and communicate openly and clearly how they can implement the best solution. It might be cheaper to order some gear out of an electronics retail catalog and hire 2 guys and a truck to come put it in, but for important purchases, I don’t think that’s going to cut it.  I need help knowing what size display would be ideal. I need someone who has knowledge of construction materials and audio engineering to make sure things can be safely and correctly installed in my space. And I need an integrator who cares about my experience throughout the whole process– From the initial consultation to the design, the build and the support. You’ll search far to find a big-box retailer who can and will treat your company and your transaction like it truly matters.

So the bottom line is this. Price matters. It will always matter. As long as accounting departments and budget meetings exist, price HAS to be a factor. But when it comes to your overall buying experience, VALUE is also important. Because if you’re not getting what you need, or being supported the way that your business demands, then that is much more costly than hiring the right man for the job.