2015 was a year of change, and was most definitely interesting.
We’re looking forward to what this year holds, and the puzzles our clients bring to us.
As the first blog of the year, I wanted to take a step back from our normal technical, satirical or industry “buzz topics” and reflect on one of the most significant questions I was asked last year;
“Why should we partner with TMI when we can just buy everything online, and buy it cheaper?”
Value, Product Familiarity, Quality & Support
PRICE VS. VALUE
For us the term “Value” can mean many things, all based on the person asking the question. From real time one on one training and support for the operator, to long term maintenance planning for department heads, to warranty support and our transparent sales process that allows the facility to decide what works for them, not what we want to sell them. Every level of our company works with every level of yours to provide added value when working with us.
So what about price? Let’s look at it.
Like any business, we follow a simple pricing model (cost + bottom line + profit = final price).
By sticking to this formula, we’ve established the price we need to charge for each product we sell. In doing so, we are delivering the product to our customers at our lowest standard price, while meeting our own needs simply to stay open.
The key statement here is “Our lowest standard price”, not necessarily the lowest price in the market, online, etc. It is the price that we can charge every day, without “sales”, and be able to keep the doors open while sticking to our goals.
There are some discount programs that we run year round, the discount programs are not sales that come and go, and once accessed are available on everything that our clients purchase from us. These programs (PMP & Assurance Plans) are akin to loyalty discounts, for those clients who decide to bring more of their business to us, we recognize this and respond with deeper discounts.
Some customers may wonder how this pricing structure benefits them, why pay more for the same product that can be purchased elsewhere or online for a lower price?
The answer is simple, familiarity.
Familiarity is extremely important in our industry where prior experience can be the difference to a quick resolution, or, a complete shutdown costing thousands of dollars. Familiarity also comes into play in day to day tasks like using chemicals, working with test kits, or providing clients with a “heads up” when we notice a problem they do not. It also comes into play when recommending replacements, upgrading equipment and assisting in researching solutions. Without an adequate level of prior experience the “advice” provided may be misguided, or, flat out wrong, or might expend unnecessary research time allowing the problem to exist longer.
It is a fact that companies who pay their employees well see longer employee retention and in turn, learn more and contribute to the wealth of knowledge. This is a major goal for TMI, to retain our team year after year because the added experience and depth of knowledge comes full circle to benefit customers both when making purchasing decisions, and, when they need assistance with the products they purchased.
I’ll give an example of this that a client explained to me after coming on board with us;
The client was having flow issues in one of their pools. They contacted the local pool supply and got the first person who picked up the phone in the sales department. They explained their issue and expressed urgency in getting it fixed because the DOH had called them on it a few times, and was threatening to shut them down for code violation. That conversation resulted in the client purchasing the “recommended” replacement filter and the “recommended” pump replacement that would meet their flow requirements AND save them money…
The new filter and pump were installed a couple days later. Then they found the pump had to run at 100% just to keep the bare minimum flow, not the 50%-75% the sales rep had claimed. This resulted in the system operating under designed flow any time the filter was dirty, which was essentially the original problem.
Also, because the pump had to run at 100% just to maintain even close to required flow rate, there was no energy savings… They put out thousands of dollars in new equipment, permits and installation fees, and at the end of it all, were back where they started.
The problem here was that the sales representative didn’t understand how to correctly size a pump and filter against an existing system, and did it incorrectly.
This scenario is more common than you might think, and is a direct result of the sales person not being familiar with the site, the equipment or the existing system. All in all, not a quality deal, though I’m sure it did add to that rep’s sales quotas.
QUALITY VS. QUANTITY
It sounds cliché, but, our philosophy in sales, in support and in customer service is all about quality not quantity. We don’t focus on the number of calls being made or limiting the amount of time it takes to resolve a problem.
We focus on the end result, making sure that the calls we do make have meaning and that we help our customers achieve whatever goal drove them to call us. Whether that takes a minute, an hour, or 10 hours, we continue working on it until we find a resolution.
When providing equipment, our focus is on providing quality equipment. Unlike many equipment suppliers (especially the online “cheaper” options) we test every piece of equipment that leaves our facility. Every controller is programmed beforehand and Q.C.’d by the TMI rep that will be supporting it. Every Salt Pure® system is installed on a test tank and is run for hours to ensure everything is working properly and is calibrated to factory spec. Even our digital meters are pre-calibrated and set up. Our clients know it will work when it comes from us, and if it doesn’t, we’ll make it right.
That is the nature of TMI Support.
For us “Support” is a very broad term, it means providing technical assistance when there is an issue with equipment, chemistry knowledge when the pool is having problems, providing training on the various areas of pool operation, it is product support, warranty support, product research, drafting Standard Operating Procedures and so much more.
This isn’t something you get from an online reseller looking to make a profit on a product you looked up online, sorting by price, lowest to highest. It only comes from companies with field experience, technical background, and a willingness to “put their money where their mouth is”.
Our philosophy is to be fair, honest and accountable to both our clients and to ourselves in all of our dealings and interactions. Our daily focus is to provide quality products, support and customer service.
While our prices are not always the cheapest, we bring a lot to the table to justify the price.
At the end of the day, we hope that our clients appreciate what we do, as much as we appreciate their loyalty.