The importance of paying attention to details

As a professional consultant, selling the services of my company, I set expectations with my clients every single day, and I set them pretty damn high. My clients pay high prices for my services and services of my team, they need to know what differentiates us from other consultants/contractors who can be gotten for a fraction of our price.  And the competition out there is pretty severe.  There’s always someone else who can write code just as well as you, who can be as personable as you — in short, someone who can do the job as well as you.  And that someone is always willing to do the job for just a little less.  What sets you apart is attention to details.  How perfect is your code?  How well is it tested?  Did it work on the first try or did the client had to ask you to rework some things?  When you do all those things well, then you reputation is high, you can charge a premium for your services and clients will be happy to pay a higher price.  And if you already do charge a premium for your services, you better do all those things well or watch your prices go down or your clients leave.  And now for a little story to illustrate…

As my seemingly never-ending search for that perfect car continues, I decided to try my luck with a “pre-driven” vehicle. I found a 2007 BMW 328 xi station wagon.  The car was fully loaded, sold by a dealer, BMW certified.  The pictures on the dealer’s website looked good, the options were in line with what I wanted, the price seemed right too.  All in all it sounded like I might be nearing the end of my search.

I went out to look at the car and… I was disappointed.  While overall the car looked great, there were little things that just didn’t feel right.  There were salt stains on the black floor carpet, there were little scratches on different parts of the body and the plastic molding on the outside was scratches and dented.  I asked the salesperson about it and his response was that they can take care of most of those things. My thought — why haven’t you already? Why would you put up a $32K car on display for sale and not spend half an hour to buff out the scratches or remove salt stains?  Needless to say, no matter how much I wanted to like the car, I walked away disappointed.

Now, were this a $20K car, I might have been OK with a few scratches but not for $32K BMW.  The price of the car and the BMW brand reputation set my expecations high but unfortunately, they were not met.  The result — they lost a client who was ready to drive a car off the lot that night.

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