Monday, April 28, 2014

Affordability Vs. Brand Image

We've all had customers who've told us that our products are too expensive for their needs and their budgets. That's true whether it is a great website for countertop business or a countertop business itself. In some cases, you may have had to pass up the sale, or you may have considered cutting corners in quality, performance or service in order to justify lower prices. We all know that some opportunistic countertop businesses offer inferior products and services on a regular basis and even make them part of their standard offerings. But, for those businesses who are in it for the long-term, this type of behavior often has an unintended side effect: negative brand imaging.

Advertising and marketing are powerful forces for bringing new clients through your doors and helping you maintain those all-important repeat customers, but these efforts can only do so much. Just as promises mean little unless backed by actions, marketing must be backed by quality products and services for maximum effect. If you can't deliver quality, customers will begin to think of your company as second-rate, which directly affects your brand image.

Regardless of advertising, your brand image is reflected by your products and services in general. If bargain options become popular, you will be relegated into an exclusive category that may not permit you to break through with your top-quality items. Why would someone go to McDonald's when what he or she really wants is a prime rib dinner? Time and again McDonald's has tried to lure in a higher class of clientele by offering "premium" sandwiches, including steak, but each attempt has been met with limited success at best. These products disappear just as quickly as they appeared and are never seen again.

When trying to cater to clients who simply don't want to pay for quality products, it does you a disservice to provide low-quality countertops. Your customers may be pleased at first, but they will quickly come to resent your products or think of you exclusively as a purveyor of cheap goods fit only for low-end applications.You are much better off being the best option instead of the cheapest option.

The only way to cut prices without sacrificing quality is to audit your operations in order to identify and eliminate waste. However, even then, price declines are a slippery slope that is not easy to reverse without damaging your client base. A second option to consider might be to offer financing that requires affordable down payments or easy payment plans. A low-interest financing option might actually increase your margins while also increasing the overall value of your projects by taming a possible sticker shock by allowing the cost to be spread out over a reasonable period of time.

Another idea to consider is to offer additional services or benefits that are valuable to the customer, but have very low hard costs. Electronics companies discovered long ago that they could make a 70 percent to 200 percent profit margin by selling extended warranties. These insurance add-ons seem like a great idea to customers, but they are needed so rarely that they are money in the bank. In this same vein, you can increase how much your customers are willing to spend without sacrificing quality by increasing the apparent value of your products. A few suggestions include coordinating plumbers to connect sinks or offering free trivets and cutting boards in matching colors.

Whatever you do, you do not want to mar your brand image and become known as the "cheap" countertop company. That is not to say there aren't successful discount countertop fabricators in the industry. However, providing high quality products, unique services and attentive support is a better way to differentiate your business from the others instead of playing the pricing game.

Let us know if you have other opinions or ideas on the topic. We would like to hear what is working for you. Feel free to comment here or drop us a line at

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