The Good, Fast or Cheap Test


Have you ever thought you were getting good, fast, and cheap, only to be disappointed?

In my effort to pass along everything I share with my mentees, I have to pass along the “good”, “fast” or “cheap” test. One of my first mentors, Pat MacMillan taught me this almost 30 years ago. It goes like this….

Good, fast or cheap. You can have two, but you can’t have all three.

- If what you want is good, and you can get it fast, then it won’t be cheap.

- If it’s good and cheap, you probably won’t get it fast.

- And if it’s cheap and fast, then it’s probably not going to be good.

When you think you’re getting all three and the deal seems too good to be true, it usually is!

The internet has diluted the power of this principle for consumer products. Instant ordering, drop shipping and high quality delivery services have made “fast” the rule rather than the exception. Quality control processes, intense competition and buying known brands have made it easier for us to find “good” stuff. Advanced engineering, factory automation and off-shore manufacturing reduce costs and make things “cheap”er.

But it’s still a powerful test when you’re contracting for services.

Most of the decisions we live to regret were made in a hurry.  One of the “big seven” sins comes with “feet that are quick to rush into evil”. (Proverbs 6:18) We never have time to do things right, but we find time to do them over.

Looking for “cheap” can also lead us to doing them over. “The bitter taste of poor quality lingers long after the sweetness of low price is gone.” Vendors need to make a profit, but they can’t just cut corners to do it.

But “good” is different.

I say start with that one. Check out the doctor, the mechanic, the consultant or the contractor. Read reviews, get references (current ones) and actually call the people and talk to them. Find out what it was like to receive service from the guy or the company.

On “quick”, never make a big decision the day it’s put before you. Take an evening, pray about it, sleep on it. Talk it out with someone who knows you. Someone you trust. Get a reality check. If the salesman says “No, it has to be today”, then pass. A company (or a sales rep)  who has to pressure you into a quick decision probably isn’t one to do business with. If it’s a good deal and it can’t wait ‘til tomorrow, it might not be such a good deal after all.

Maybe it helps to put the three in priority order.

Good – non-negotiable

Fast – as fast as possible so long as it’s still good

Cheap – best price I can get for the good thing I need when I have to have it.

We’re stewards of what God has entrusted to us. Be wise.

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