We recently read an in-depth article posted in the December 2010 issue of Quirk’s. The author is Mark Goodin, President of Aaron-Abrams Field Support Services in Las Vegas. Goodin makes an impassioned plea to those who recruit respondents for qualitative research to improve the quality of their service by not taking shortcuts, offering excuses instead of results, or agreeing to complete jobs they know they can’t handle. The link to the article is here: Clean up your act – you’ll need a Quirk’s login ID. He offered 12 simple ways to upgrade your quality in your recruiting, many of which were valid. RMS is both a marketing research firm and a call center, which can be utilized for recruiting, so we understand the importance of quality in recruiting. One of his suggestions sparked a good conversation here in the RMS Research Bunker. Here is the excerpt from the article:
“Simply providing a cost that is similar to that of your competition does not set you apart as an authority. Successful recruiters strive to become authorities on fieldwork. Jacks-of-all-trades and suppliers who offer clients nothing more than a competitive cost often find themselves struggling to complete recruits. Referrals and repeat business are keys to operating a successful recruiting shop and you won’t get either one by under-delivering. Most researchers have been fooled by low-pricing strategies and many of us no longer awarded a project to a recruiter without first conducting a “job interview” to ensure that a supplier has the experience and staff needed to get the job done. We want to know that they have answers to our questions and solutions, if needed when the going gets tough. We actively encourage all researchers to do the same.”
Simply put, a competitive advantage is something that makes a person or company stand out above the competition (via wiktionary.com). So is price a competitive advantage?
- George: In our research, we don’t just see price as a competitive advantage for a business, but in fact in a lot of cases it is the single most important competitive advantage for a business. In virtually all of our consumer studies, price is at the top or near the top of every consideration set when it comes down to choosing products or services. When new customers are trying something for the first time (in most service-based businesses), there is little to no understanding of value or quality of the end-service. Therefore, first-time clients usually base their decision on price and then evaluate the price/value tradeoff in the end, which determines whether they want to choose a different competitor the next time around. You simply can’t ignore price. The key is to offer quality service for a reasonable price, but no business, anywhere in the world, knows exactly what that exact price point is for their products or services. While other features come in and phase out, price always matters. If your price sets you apart from your competitors without sacrificing quality, then yes, it’s a competitive advantage.
- Vance: Price is a competitive advantage in every single industry. We will believe otherwise when Wal-Mart is no longer the largest retailer in the world. It is true that a low price is of no value if the recruit is substandard, but that doesn’t change the fact that research buyers do and will continue to buy largely on price and that, in the real world, vendors are under intense pressure to keep costs competitive. That’s no excuse to not deliver quality work, but realistically it means that if a vendor were to supply the kind of tireless 24/7, high-touch, expert consultation that the author clamors for in the article, they will probably price themselves out of business.
- Chris: Price is a competitive advantage, but only if quality meets an acceptable level. As everyone knows, finding a balance between price and quality is the key to making the right purchase. Using this method to evaluate a service can prove to be a little more difficult though, as products are clearer cut because of tangible benefits. In the specific case of finding a recruitment service, using a vendor with a history of market research recruitment (or even one that mainly operates as a market research firm) is one way to judge the quality level before moving on to evaluating price. Ultimately, the question of quality and whether or not a service reaches an acceptable level is of upmost importance. With that aside, price can be one of the greatest competitive advantages a business has.