Overpriced: Are you worth what you charge?

To some, success lies within making a difference; making a product easier to use; streamlining a business process that cuts expenses or touching the lives of others and helping those in need. But where does respect for the quality of our own work factor in? How often do we question the value of what we provide our customers?

Buying into our abilities is a leap of faith

The customer assumes we will provide the best quality work for their hard earned dollar. That our history of projects, clients and testimonials are an adequate barometer of what they can expect of us. They buy into the end result before seeing progress on their own project. Based on that the customer is willing to sign contracts, shake hands and trust our abilities to perform. At best, it is an educated leap of faith.

Many customers are even willing to compromise against their own expectations to see actual results. We operate under the mindset that it is reasonable to expect customers to provide content ahead of schedule or pay early. Expect that the customer go beyond expectations we already outlined for them. If you failed to go beyond the customer’s expectations would you refuse payment? Discount your rates?

If the customer gave you an objective would you go above expectations to raise the level of the end product? Imagine that you delivered ahead of schedule, under budget and to their liking even though it wasn’t up to your own standards. Do you still charge the full price? Do you put in extra effort to respect your own work when your customer may not even notice?

As business owners we are so quick to take action when a client fails us. When do we become equally responsible for our own work?

A real world example

Last week Gil Meche, a Kansas City Royals’ pitcher, retired early leaving a guaranteed salary of $12 million unpaid this year. A guaranteed contract is a remarkable opportunity that traditional business models cannot emulate. Its salary is paid to you regardless of performance or health.

In an interview with the New York Times Meche said, “Once I started to realize I wasn’t earning my money, I felt bad. I was making a crazy amount of money for not even pitching. Honestly, I didn’t feel like I deserved it. I didn’t want to have those feelings again.”

Not only did he go against the archetype of major league sports, he went against our own human nature. He walked away from money that was his if he wanted it. If you were guaranteed an annual salary for the entire year regardless of health or performance what would motivate you to deliver a quality product every day?


  1. Martyn ChamberlinReplyFebruary 6, 2011 at 9:41 pm 

    Wow man this is a unique way to look at business. I say bravo to Gil. It’s nice making money, but you have to look in the mirror and be proud of yourself at the end of the day. The more someone trusts me, the more motivated I am to deliver 200% expectations. I’d definitely want to ship my best in a guaranteed contract. Wouldn’t out?

    • Joshua GarityReplyMarch 12, 2011 at 2:25 am 

      Thanks for your thoughts Martyn! I agree completely. So many people hide behind excuses like ‘bad clients’, ‘project scope’, ‘budget’ etc. If you know what you are doing you can deliver properly, and possibly beyond expectations, as you can plan ahead for changes to a project.

      Unless you work in the corporate world. Then project scope doesn’t exist. It is common knowledge that it will grow on a daily basis as the deadline doesn’t change ;)

  2. Stan ReeserReplyJune 3, 2011 at 7:02 pm 

    I won’t bill clients for time that, even if spent on their project, I don’t feel was productive if it was at all my fault.  Like wise if I am spending time learning something on a client’s dime I will charge them a “research rate”.  It hasn’t led to a mansion or a Maserati BUT my clients on the whole have embraced my business style and literally hand me the keys to the office.  I am trusted, sometime more so than even employees, and have clients from over a decade ago, one of which ended up “buying out my contract” from me!  

  3. Jason DurhamReplyFebruary 4, 2012 at 12:12 pm 

    Great post!

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