Many years ago, I learned a valuable lesson from a former mayor of a city in which I was operating a computer store. This was back when computer stores were rare, and I had one of maybe a dozen in the Dallas area.
My computer store wasn’t doing all that well. There were several reasons for that which I won’t go into here because they aren’t important to this story (but I may mention some of them in later articles). What is important was that on a very slow day in a very slow week, I got a call from the former mayor wanting to know if I could fix a problem he was having with a printer on his office PC. Since there was nobody in the store, I told him I would be there in 30 minutes, and I hand-wrote a sign for the front door explaining that the store was closed for the afternoon.
I grabbed my toolkit, locked up the store, and proceeded to the mayor’s business. I got there about 10 minutes earlier than I had promised. Turned out he had a defective cable (rare these days, but not so rare back then). I had everything I needed to custom-build a new cable in my toolbox, and replacing the cable took me about a half-hour. I installed it, got his printer going again, and told his secretary that I would bill them for the service call and cable, $30 for the service call, and $20 for the cable, on a net 30.
About then, the mayor walked in and asked me if I could wait around for a couple of minutes while he cut me a check. Sure thing! After a short delay for typing out the check and signing it, he handed me a check for $75. He said the extra was because I had fixed the problem quickly when he needed it, and I deserved a tip.
Right then, I decided that if Mayor Matthews ever called on me again, I was going to drop absolutely everything and give his problem my immediate undivided attention.
Fast forward to today for how that lesson can be applied now…
Suppose you decide to outsource a task, and you find somebody willing to do it for less than you expected, and complete it in a week. Then, that contractor manages to deliver your job exactly to spec two days early. So now you know that you can get that job done in 5 days instead of a week, right? Oh, and you can probably get it even cheaper, right? So need time you need something like that done, you put out the bids at a lower offer, with a 5-day deadline, right?
Here’s what to do instead: When your outsourced job comes in earlier and better than quoted, give the vendor a generous tip and explain that it is for the excellent service you got.
Guess what’s going to happen next time you use that person for an outsourced task…
P.S. I’m not the only person who preaches about this way to get better performance from your outsourcing — it’s one of many tips in Steve Scott’s book, featured at the top of this article. It’s only $3, and definitely worth reading.