THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Getting exactly what you paid for

By pure coincidence I caught the first evening off-peak train from Euston to Stockport last Friday and the first morning off-peak back down again today.

Both trains packed with passengers, some left standing for the whole journey.

I’m surrounded by returning students, business travellers, shoppers and party-goers (including Ryan Giggs this morning, carrying his glad rags to the first class end of things).

A diligent mother had to change her baby’s nappy on the table in front of her, much to the delight of some and the obvious disdain of others.

The whole experience reminded me of a client conversation last week, during which I reviewed the classic Harvard-born Quality/Price/Time Triangle postulating that we can purchase a combination of

  1. High quality

  2. Low price

  3. Fast or convenient time

Businesses who attempt to offer all three cannot do so without financial loss or subsidy.

Consumers should therefore expect to purchase ANY combination of TWO of the said attributes.

So what did we elect to buy this morning?

Low Price – off peak.

Fast Time – it gets there in 2 hours and beats the hell out of driving or flying once you have paid £5.00 for patchy wifi.

What did we sacrifice?

Quality – in this case the quality of the experience that Virgin are able to deliver (I changed my journey time at the last minute and didn’t have the reserved seat that Phillippa normally secures).

It pays to remind ourselves of the QPT Triangle every now and then – I’m not complaining about my hot, crowded carriage because I chose it to save some hard-earned, highly taxed money.

Your patients have to make that choice numerous times a day – and should be obliged to make the same choice when they visit you.

You also have to decide which TWO of the QPT features you intend to offer and build your brand, your identity and your business around that choice.

There is no right or wrong about choosing any of the two – choosing to deliver all three can however be catastrophic, so be careful.

Here’s hoping that you go for high quality and convenient delivery times – it’s never any fun working in or with a dental practice that looks like a crowded railway carriage manned by flustered team members, all headed down the same tracks at break-kneck speed.

It occurs as I ponder the moral of this tale that the differences between the first and standard class carriages would be a further metaphor – I’ll leave you to expand on that.

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