I learned a valuable lesson this past week. As the article title suggests, you are not necessarily getting the best deal just because something has the biggest discount. In order to gauge the true value of something you’re purchasing, you must look at other factors besides price. Factors such as purpose, productivity, lifespan and maintenance costs should all play a major role during your decision-making process.
When making a purchase for your home or business, the first thing you need to ask yourself is, “What is the purpose of this product?” If it does not do that which you need or want it to do, you won’t use it and it will be a waste of money. Buying a weed trimmer, for example, that only cuts light growth when you have a small forest to cut down, is not a good buying decision (even if it’s on sale!).
Use a holistic approach (view things from every angle) to determine how a product can help you become more productive. A cordless or gas-powered trimmer can keep you from getting tangled up with a cord while a shoulder strap helps ease the weight and tension on your back. These features allow you to get more done faster, which frees up your time for more recreation (or in my case, more chores!).
The quality and use of your product often determines the lifespan of it. Although we’ve all had good products that had “Gremlins” living inside, quality products tend to last longer. The question is whether something that costs twice as much is going to last twice as long. Sometimes viewing the length of the warranties as well as researching customer reviews online can give you an idea if a product lives up to the hype. Recently, reading reviews on GPS units helped steer me away from my initial choice, which apparently had major quality issues even though it was a good brand name!
The initial cost of a product needs to be added to the total costs of maintaining that product in order to see the final true cost. Buying an inexpensive printer may seem like a good deal, but having to regularly purchase replacement ink cartridges is where the manufacturers really hit you in the pocket book. If you keep using that printer for more than a year, you end up paying more than if you bought the more expensive printer in the first place!
So take my advice before you hastily buy something under pressure or simply because it is on sale; take the time to think about what you need, what you need it to do, and research if it actually does what it says it will do!
Alex Golin is the President of The Non-Profit Purchasing Group of Canada. We are committed to lowering the recurring costs of small businesses and non-profit organizations by providing our members with discounted rates on their most commonly purchased goods and services. For more information on how your organization can save money, call toll-free 1-888-359-6509 or visit www.nppg.ca.