Steel Cut Oats – Value vs. Price

by Judy Baker on April 30, 2012

steel cut oatsI grew up eating Quaker oatmeal. Oatmeal is one of my favorite breakfast choices. Imagine how surprised I was when I tried steel cut oats for the first time. My entire concept of oatmeal was transformed. I was amazed at the difference in the taste, texture, and pleasure I experienced when eating this delectable version of oatmeal. My definition of oatmeal was changed forever. I would never be satisfied with the fast, ubiquitous and bland oatmeal from my childhood.

I’m a fan of oatmeal. It is nourishing. It tops my list of comfort foods. It fills my stomach with a warm deliciousness and triggers memories of breakfast with my Father. Oatmeal was one of the few things he was good at cooking (this was another era, before most men were comfortable in the home kitchen.)

Why am I willing to invest nearly three times the effort and time to cook steel cut oats versus the speedier and more convenient standard fare? In my opinion, the taste, texture and nutritional value merit the effort. The superior value is apparent on experiential and nutritional levels. I enjoy the result of my labor and the difference in price between the inferior, standard version of oatmeal and the scrumptious, nutty and satisfying steel cut variety is an insignificant factor in my choice to purchase, cook and consume steel cut oats instead of the readily available, less expensive and bland versions of oatmeal. I find that their higher quality is more pleasing to my palate, which translates into my desire to eat them often.

Cheaper is not always better. In fact, higher quality often allows me to use less of a product or to buy services because an expert usually takes less time to perform a task than an inexperienced individual. The price per hour may look like there is a huge gap, but in reality, the person who charges less per hour may in fact take more time and do an inferior job to the higher priced expert. I have less worry about whether or not the job will be done or whether the product will perform as advertised when I go with a proven product or service that has demonstrated value.

My husband is an architect. He is often asked to give a quote on a project; just I am for graphic design projects. Both of us have encountered this conundrum; a client asks for an estimate and then comes back to us with a perception that they can get the same work performed for a significantly cheaper price. What is usually true in this equation is they have requested a bid for work from someone who isn’t fully qualified to do the work for a ridiculously low price. What the client may not recognize is that they are comparing dissimilar products and services. They are also taking on a huge risk and exposing themselves to legal as well as quality issues. An expert, such as, a licensed, seasoned architect with many years of practical experience and knowledge, knows what to include in project bid because they have learned through their on the job experience, continuing education, up-to-date training, and by real life knowledge. They also know what to anticipate, and how to navigate the permit and construction processes. A newly minted service provider may know technically what they to do, but won’t be aware of all of the aspects of a project that are critical to success. That is what an expert brings to the table and why their pricing will reflect these gaps in knowledge.

Your decision to hire cheaper may actually cost you more in the long run. My husband and I have frequently been called in to fix the mess created by inexperienced service providers. Going with the low ball bid can cost you two, three or more times what you originally budgeted for your job when you have to have to work redone, you have to correct legal issues, or you missed an important deadline because someone didn’t know what they needed to know in order to provide you with the service and quality that you were looking for and deserve.

The next time you are shopping for services and receive very different estimates from providers, take a look at what’s included and what is left out each bid. Be cautious if you see a big difference between prices. Find out what has been included in what might be left out. Verify that the service provider has experience and can show you proof that they can deliver what they promise. In some cases, there maybe a big gap because of the level of experience of each provider, but that’s not the only critical issue to take into account. It’s usually an indication that the bidder lacks the knowledge of what they need to include versus an experienced, qualified, and honest provider telling you in detail what needs to be included for you get the work done the way that you want it completed.

Experts may charge more and appear to be expensive. If you have to have your work redone, how much will that cost you? Be sure you look at the facts before deciding to go with someone just because they have a lower price.

You do get what you pay for.


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