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How to Determine Value

In this video Craig talks about a dent in his car and tells the story of the consultant and the red X. How do YOU determine how much you should pay for something?
Craig’s answer might surprise you.

This video has captions. To see them, click CC on the video screen.

Here’s what Craig says in the video

Hi everybody!

Hey it’s Craig Freshley here.

This is my work vehicle. I got tables, easels, projectors, a screen. But I want to talk about the outside, right here.

I had a dent; a pretty big dent. I took it to my buddy Glenn who runs an auto body shop. I’ve been doing business with Glenn for 20 years and I asked him, “What’s it going to take to fix this dent?” He looked at it and he talked about how he was going to have to drill rivets and pull it out and sand and repaint. “Well,” he said, ‘two or three hundred maybe.”

And then he said, “Well, wait a minute. Sometimes….” and then he looked real careful here. He looked from the other side. And then he whammed it with his hand and the dent popped out! Just like it is right now. Fixed. Boom. Good as brand new in about five seconds.

It reminds me of the story of the consultant and the red X. Big manufacturing plant; one of their machines went down. It was costing thousands; tens of thousands of dollars a day in lost production. They were trying to get this machine fixed but couldn’t. Finally they called in a consultant who looked at it real careful. And then he pulled out a can of red spray paint and put a big X on the side of the machine. And then he pulled out a sledge hammer and he whammed that red ‘X’ right in the middle. And the machine started working! He sent them an invoice: $10,000. Well the folks that hired him were like, “What do you mean $10,000? You were only here for like, twenty minutes! Can you at least send us an itemized bill?” He said, “Ok, I can send you an itemized bill.” The bill came. Spray paint: $20. Sledgehammer: $80. Knowing where to put the X: $9,900.

That was the value; just like Glenn’s value was knowing exactly where and how hard to hit the back of my car to fix that dent in an instance.

If you’re part of a group having to make decisions about how to spend money, it’s tempting to want to base those decisions on hourly rates or cost of materials. Those are tried and true methods. But if some solution is going to come along which seems to have little baring on cost of materials or an hourly rate but gets you a fix in a hurry, that’s worth considering.

One way to access value is NOT looking at cost of material or hours spent but look at the alternative cost. In the case of that factory, the alternative was costing tens of thousands of dollars a day. In the case of this dent on the back of my car, the alternative was to spend two or three hundred dollars on Glenn and be without my car for a few days. So I whipped out my wallet and I offered to pay Glenn a hundred dollars on the spot because for me, that was good value even though it only took him five to ten seconds to fix it.

I’m just offering that there are different ways to think about value and don’t be tethered to the old fashioned ways. If you’ve got a solution that’s going to get the job done cheaper and more effective than any other solution, that’s all you need to know. Go for it.

I hope this helps you and your group make good decisions.

Thanks for listening everybody.

Oh, one more thing. A little plug for Glenn’s Auto Body, Route 125, Durham, Maine.

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