When you hire a team to build a fence around your property, what are your expectations around the process and the results?
Do you expect to constantly monitor the work to make sure the lines are straight and that workers are not cutting any corners? Do you expect to provide the tools and replace them or do maintenance for those that get broken? Do you expect to manage each worker and tell them what to do, when they should do it and how?
And for the end result, do you expect to have to do fixes after the work is finished and do lots of maintenance as time passes?
On the flip side, do you expect to simply show them the property line and describe what the fence should do: keep out wild animals, large and small, and be sturdy enough to require very little maintenance in the future?
Here is the thing: there is no correct answer to these questions. Different people have different expectations. Some love to get their hands dirty and get very involved in the process, while others need the results, and they would rather do something else while the fence is being built. The problems appear when these expectations are not discussed upfront and are assumed.
We also need to consider risk and price
When you do get your hands dirty, provide all the tools, and give all the directions, you are taking on all the risk of making sure the result is a good fence. The people you hire just do as they are told and shoulder no risk. So the price they can command is not that great. You pay them less money, but give more of your own time.
When you buy the results: a fence that meets the specifications, the construction team needs to shoulder all the risk. You don’t care how they do it, how many tools they break in the process, if they need to fire someone along the way, or if they use your fence to train a junior team member. This construction team can command a higher price, and you pay more with money but with much less of your own time.
Both are valid options, but you need to make a conscious choice and get clarity: is the team who asks for a ton of money willing to take on all the risk? On the flip side, when the price is “too good to be true,” are you ready to pay with your time and with taking on the risk of failure because it turns out the price was way too low to allow for a good job?
The same applies when building a website. When you want to do it as cheaply as possible, you need to understand that you are taking on the full risk of failure, full maintenance, and a big chunk of the building process. But if you want a hands-off approach where you’re just interested in the business results, expect to pay a premium price for that experience and peace of mind (aka insurance against risk.)
A cautionary note about the premium price
Pricing is a signal. And someone reading this may be tempted to think that all I have to do now is raise my prices to a premium level to bring in the clients who want the “hands-off experience.” That is exactly what you should do IF you can deliver! And the price needs to be a lot higher to account for all of your mistakes and all of the things that will go wrong with the project. If you just charge more but don’t deliver, you are running a scam, and you will be found out.
From the customer side: if someone is offering a premium hands-off experience at a very low price, you need to be cautious. How can they deliver without cutting corners? How can they afford high-quality tools and qualified people? Are they just boasting off to get their foot in the door?
You need to get crystal clear if you’re shopping for price or value and then make sure the hired team can deliver on their promise.