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A Tale of Two Plumbers

Can a service provider who’s less expensive do just as good a job … or a
better job … than one who’s pricier?

Of course.

But let me relate a story that serves as a cautionary tale to you as a
service provider.

We have a condo in Mexico.  We hadn’t been south of the border in a year a half, but we got to spend the last six weeks there, attending to some fix-up work and enjoying the wonderful weather and a beach straight out of a Corona beer commercial.

Upon arrival, we discovered we had a leak in the kitchen sink and the ice maker wasn’t working properly on the fridge.  We needed a plumber.  Our property manager arranged for one to come.

He’s in high demand and hard to get.  We’re lucky to get him within a week.

Nice enough guy.  Seemed to know what he was doing.

The sink was no problem.

He then determined we needed a water pump …a “bomba” …on the back of the fridge.

He pledged to get the pump and return to install it.

Days passed.  He didn’t come.  We didn’t hear from him.  We tried to contact him.  Nothing.  When we finally hear from him weeks later, he can’t find the part.

In the meantime, we’d discovered a leak in the clothes washer.

We need a plumber!

Since number 1 is missing in action, our property manager calls in plumber number 2.  He comes right away … on a Saturday.

Good guy.  We communicate via a mix of English, Spanish, and Spanglish.

He diagnoses the problem with the washer.  The O rings are shot on the water pump.

And he checks to see what’s wrong with the water flow to the ice maker.

He quickly determines it’s a pump issue alright … but says it’s a  different pump than the one plumber #1 said we needed.

He procures new pumps for the ice maker and the washer and returns on Monday morning to hook them up … just as he said he would! 

We’re impressed that he checks the washer repeatedly to make very sure everything’s okay.

Repairs complete.  We’re very happy.

Now, here’s the thing.  Plumber number 2 isn’t as busy as number 1. 

Why do you think that is?  After all, he clearly got the job done in a timely and professional fashion … after diagnosing the problem correctly.

It’s simple.  He charges more.

And herein lies the lesson.

Which plumber would you rather hire … the guy who misdiagnosed the problem and pledged to return in a couple of days, only to disappear … or the guy who completed the jobs quickly and well, but who’s a bit more expensive?

That’s a no-brainer.

But wait.  Why does plumber number 1 have so much work?

The first consideration of many people living in Mexico when choosing a provider is price.  There are a lot of expats living on a fixed income who are being careful about what they spend.  I totally get it.  (And some folks don’t realize he’s the budget option.  He’s just a plumber.  We didn’t know.  Our property manager was just being price conscious.)

But consider what headaches came from the budget option in this case.

And what do the headaches teach us?

To not be quite so price conscious.  We also start to equate cheaper with inferior … even if that belief isn’t always justified. 

And that’s the key point here.

Look, it’s a psychological thing.  We’re wired to generalize and form opinions from limited specific experience.

If you’re positioned as the budget option, either through your own promotion or via comparison, discriminating buyers will tend to look askance, assuming you’re not as competent or responsive or whatever.

“The cheapest out there” is not the impression you want to create … which is yet another reason why you should charge what you’re worth. based on the results you help your clients achieve.

By doing so, you can command a higher price … have the satisfaction of giving BETTER and more timely service … and not be as scattered, overwhelmed and hard-to-get as plumber #1!

So, don’t undersell yourself.  Charge what you’re worth … and then deliver the goods.  Don’t be the budget option

Best Wishes,



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Meet Denise: Denise Hedges is a Business Development Coach and Speaker Coach for small business owners who want to be more comfortable, confident, and successful with their sales and marketing efforts. She specializes in helping them use speaking as a way to dramatically improve their results!