Quality, Reliability or Price – Pick Two (unless you’re Jeff Bezos)

A wise man once told me “Quality, Reliability or Price? Pick Two” and it stuck with me even years later as a reminder that it’s not always about price. Then I thought about what Amazon has been able to accomplish in the last 20 years… and realized maybe there are a few lessons to be learned from them as well ;).

It’s no mystery that Jeff Bezos’ customer centric mantra is what has propelled Amazon into the world’s superpower it is today. “Give the customers what they want and they will keep coming back”. In Amazon’s case this is (simplified):

  1.       A fantastic user experience (Quality)
    •      1 Click Payment options.
    •      Customized product recommendations based on previous purchases.
    •      Convenience of not having to leave your home.
  2.       Reliable service
    •       Reliable website – no down time (ever).
    •       Next-day delivery.
    •       Trustworthy reviews from previous customers.
  3.       Lowest price anywhere.
    •       What?? Yes, I know… it doesn’t make sense.

So that’s the WHAT. The question is HOW has Amazon accomplished this? (This is my take on it)

  • Incorporating as much technology as possible.
  • Being visionary and bold.
  • Strategic partnerships.
  • Great hiring practices, core values which leads to hiring the best.

How can contractors in the land development industry reproduce this success?

Unless you are trying to become the Amazon of construction, there’s no need to strive to copy Bezos here, remember Amazon wasn’t profitable for the first decade it was in business, that’s just not realistic for a construction company. You can simply live by the subject of this blog: Quality, Reliability or Price – Pick 2. There’s enough business out there to find the right clients that fit with your services and pricing.

You can be the lowest price but realize that quality or reliability might suffer. Alternatively, you can commit to quality and reliability, then sell their value. Send in fair pricing and deliver results. Focus on the user experience but make sure to charge a premium.

Although it wouldn’t be realistic for most it’s still interesting to wonder what Jeff would do if he was in construction! Comment your ideas below!

What technology would he incorporate in your business today in order to drive up efficiency? Quality? Reliability? 

          What Equipment?

          What Software? Devices? Robots?

I’m willing to bet that the first contractor in your industry that automates as much of their workflow as possible and even incorporates robots in their day to day will have a strong competitive advantage over their competition. We’re definitely a few years away from that. I’m just saying!

Here are a couple more questions you could ask yourself to brainstorm some other ways to improve your business using some of Amazon’s principles:

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes for a moment, what do they want?

          Do they want to have to follow up with you?

          Do they want to tell you that the quality isn’t up to their standard?

          Do they want to have to call you to figure out how your billing works?

          Do they expect that you meet your deadlines? Or that you actually send them a schedule?


What areas of your business are the most inefficient? Other than technology, how can you increase efficiencies?

          What training does your staff need to increase field performance?

          Are you currently measuring performance and does your staff know?

          Do you have employee reviews (at least once a year)?

          Are you keeping your suppliers honest by getting more than one quote?

          Are unexpected breakdowns in the field causing delays during your high season?


Have you done everything possible to ensure you have the best staff?

What are your core values?

What do you look for in an ideal employee?

How do you know you have hired the right staff?


I know the above list could be overwhelming; the best approach is to pick the most important or impactful area of your business that needs addressing and focus on that one thing per quarter. Focus on incremental progress and 12-18 months down the road you will notice real results (and in 20 years kick Jeff off the top spot as the world’s richest person! Well… maybe not)

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