When Did Cheaper Become Better?
When Lives are on the Line and Seconds Count, Quality Matters
Author: Mike McLaughlin
Once upon a time, not so long ago, quality was king. And businesses seeking to obtain or replace a product sought out items of the highest quality, with the understanding that whatever they were purchasing, whether it was a computer, an air conditioner or a vehicle, it would function as expected and serve them a long time. Consumers understood longevity — and with automobiles, the resale value of the product and longevity were key factors in the investment equation in decision-making.
For years, buyers followed the mantra “faster, better, cheaper” knowing that you could only expect two out of three of these qualities in any good transaction. It might be faster and better, but it couldn’t be cheaper as well. If you went with faster and cheaper, you might not get the wear out of the product that you would have if you had purchased a more expensive option. And lastly, going with better and cheaper might mean you’d have to wait for products and service – a small “mom and pop shop” may make a good product, but will undoubtedly take longer to produce than a high volume operator. The common thread here, is cheaper is rarely the best option.
When you’re responsible for homeland security, fire department vehicles or first responder effectiveness, faster and better are the clear priorities. The same holds true for law enforcement vehicles. With speed, safety and effectiveness a priority, quality, not price, should be the number one concern. Lives are at stake. Seconds count. Equipment must function seamlessly and perform as expected. There’s no room for “whoops!”
Some time ago, New York State determined it was best to have a state bid system allowing all divisions to purchase from one contract or bid apparatus. This was a transparent process that meant to give all vendors a fair shake. But we all know that often times the cheapest option will not meet customer expectations. Small items can be missed on the specifications, or the quality of the components won’t be up to standards. This system only works if everyone is bidding the exact same component, but most of the time, that is not the case.
There’s a lot that should go into determining the best-valued bid, such as the past performance of the vendor as well as the reliability and track record of the manufacturers who are the supplier of the parts and pieces that make up the product. Once again, quality counts.
Another problem with this system is that the end user may not be totally informed when it comes to understanding the components’ value. This is why Empire Emergency believes it is vitally important to educate our customers as to what they are getting – which in our case is quality, quality, quality. Again – better beats cheaper by a long shot.
It’s unfortunate that many times, customers using this open bid format have been shortchanged. The items purchased did not measure up. Equipment failed. And when the service call was put out, it turns out that cheaper was not faster or better. At Empire, we pride ourselves on the whole package – high quality products, great value, and exceptional service.
We understand every aspect of custom vehicle upfitting from headlights to taillights and everything in-between. For more than a decade, police and fire departments of all sizes have put their trust in our products and services. Rescue officials and DPW decision makers have returned again and again, because as emergency vehicle upfitters, Empire consistently strives and delivers on exceeding expectations. Our inventory reflects industry standards and innovations. Our EVT-certified technicians are highly trained and experienced.
I don’t remember the exact moment when cheaper became the new “better.” It’s a trend that has crept into every aspect of life, from buying clothing and furniture to eating fast food. I do know that it’s not a wise decision to go with cheaper over better when it comes to transportation and especially with vehicles that are used by the women and men who protect and serve the public. I’ll take better and faster any day of the week. Quality will always be our number one priority at Empire Emergency.
Empire Emergency is your trusted provider of highly-customized emergency vehicle installations that ensure the effectiveness and safety of the men and women who protect and serve our communities. Empire’s emergency vehicle upfit solutions enable fire, police, and rescue teams of all sizes to perform quickly, efficiently, safely, and secure in the knowledge that their equipment is both expertly installed and inspected with meticulous attention to detail.
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