As a property owner or manager, you’ve spearheaded dozens, if not hundreds, of projects. So, you know the budget is always at the forefront of the discussion…. “How much will this cost?” “What can we afford?” “Has anyone run the numbers?” Those are certainly important questions, but the cost of your project only tells you one part of the story—you also have to think about what you’re getting in return. In this article, we explore the distinction between “cost” and “value.” Because nine times out of ten, you get exactly what you pay for.  

The Problem with Buying Based on Cost

It’s always a good idea to get a few different bids when starting on a new construction project for your property. But many people only look at the bottom line and go with the cheapest contractor. Those people are buying based on cost. And that’s fine if you’re buying something simple like a paperweight or a stapler. But you’re not buying a paperweight or a stapler, you’re investing in a complex project with lots of moving parts (literally). In that case, buying based on cost can backfire fairly spectacularly. Here are just a few of the ways we’ve seen how the cheapest bid can go sideways:  

Hidden Exclusions   

A few years ago, we lost a job for a local hospital group to a contractor who underbid us. The client initially liked those low dollar signs, but they soon found out why the cost was less than ours. Unfortunately, the cheaper bid didn’t include the final phase of the project—the part where they actually connect the ADA swing operators and access control. In other words, the bid was so cheap because it didn’t cover the entire project. The hospital group called us in to finish the job, and now they make sure we’re always the contractor to handle the automatic doors in their renovations and additions. 

Lack of Experience

Listen, we weren’t born yesterday. We know the cheapest bid is always going to look pretty tempting. But it’s important to remember this: if your contractor doesn’t deliver a viable project, then you didn’t actually save money…you wasted it. We ran into that situation awhile back when another local hospital group opted for the lowest bid. The contractor was clearly either new to the industry or inexperienced with the particular product the hospital had chosen. They got frustrated with the job, and the hospital got frustrated with them. The contractor was fired, and the hospital ended up hiring us to come in and finish the job, installing and wiring the safety sensors and automatic swing doors. 

Lesson learned: the cheapest bid isn’t so cheap when you have to pay twice to finish the job correctly. It’s like the old saying goes, “If you think it’s expensive to hire a pro, just wait until you hire an amateur.”          

Poor Quality

When a bid comes in low, remind yourself that those savings are coming from somewhere. Some more unscrupulous contractors may be saving money because they’re cutting corners, in poor quality products and/or rushed, shoddy workmanship. Over the years, we’ve seen it all…doors that rub against the floor, faulty wiring, sensors not hooked up properly, work that ends up completely falling apart. If this is the case, you could end up paying more in the long run—either because you have to replace the whole shebang sooner than you would’ve if you’d gone with a higher bidder…or because of lawsuits due to someone getting hurt.

The Importance of Buying Based on Value

You’ve just read about some of the problems with buying based on cost. So, what’s the solution? Buying based on value. When you’re buying based on value, you’re not just looking at what you spend, you’re also looking at what you get in return. This might mean you invest a bit more up front, but you know your investment will end up paying for itself in the long run. Here’s how spending more on your next project helps you come out ahead:       

Your Project is Built to Last

You have to live with the results of your automatic door project for years, so you can’t just think about your up-front costs—you also have to think about your costs over time. Let’s say you hire a cut-rate contractor, but there’s no craftsmanship, they use low-grade materials, and you end up paying to fix something every few months. You may even end up having to replace the whole thing years sooner than expected. All of a sudden, that cheap project has turned into a money pit. When you invest more up front in high-quality products and workmanship, there’s a very good chance you’ll actually end up saving yourself money—and hassle—over the long haul.     

ProActive Maintenance Can Save You Money

Upgrades and add-ons definitely cost more, but they can also save you money. Consider this: let’s say you just spent $200 on a new pair of leather shoes. That was a pretty chunk of change, so you decide not to pony up for the $12 waterproofing. You’ve worn your beautiful new shoes for all of a week when you get stuck in a thunderstorm…and that un-waterproofed leather is stained for good. The moral of the story is, it pays to take care of your stuff. 

What does that have to do with automatic doors? Much like those leather shoes, if you don’t have someone looking out for issues before they occur, you could end up with an expensive problem on your hands. Our ProActive Maintenance Plan may be an added expense to an already expensive project, but it also protects your investment. Click here to learn more. 

Fire Door Inspections Can Prevent Costly Damage and Fines

Like our ProActive Maintenance plan, our Fire-Door Inspection Program comes with an additional cost. But it can also save you money in two different ways. First, we make sure your fire doors are working properly, so if disaster strikes, they can help contain a fire and prevent costly damage. Second, Fire Door Inspection is usually required by the city, and if you don’t get one, you might get hit with some pretty hefty fines. So, yes—the Fire Door Inspection Program does cost more, but it pays for itself by adding lots of value. 

The next time you find yourself leaning toward the cheapest bid on a construction project, take some time to stop and evaluate the whole picture. Is the contractor upfront about everything that’s included in the project? Do they have the experience needed to get the job done right the first time? Is there anything they offer that can help extend the life of the product or service you’re buying? The next time you’re comparing bids, remember you’re not just spending money—you’re making an investment. Invest wisely.