Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It's different here

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  Many many times, until you are sick to death of hearing it. But I'm sure I'll continue finding new examples. Like this one.

In other parts of the planet - like the bits located just across the water from where I sit, there are all sorts of companies that provide a variety of services.  And the folks that run those companies actually want your business, they'll even compete with each other to get it!  Offering a smorgasboard of nifty incentives - lower prices, faster results, better quality customer service overall - lovely ideas, every one of them.

Yeah, it isn't like that here.

I had a conversation recently with someone who started their own small business here over a year ago and so far, the business is growing and she's doing fine.  But she did mention that she'd been on the receiving end of a little flack from a few locals, possibly related to their own interests in that same "industry" (if you can use that word for something so small).  Because really,  who did she think she was?  Going and starting up a business that would offer a lower price and/or better quality than the existing businesses providing the same service?  (Or as often happens, not providing the service!). Sheesh!

So am I saying that some of our local businesses are ummm....lazy?  Well, yeah.  Either they are completely sucked into the tourism economy concept and expect to have X number of customers delivered to the door from every cruise ship, cross-channel ferry, private boat, or helicopter.  Or they serve the people who live here year 'round and know that they are either one of a limited number local providers for that service, or possibly even the only provider. That's a pretty cushy position to be in, isn't it?  So you can see why the idea of "competition" might be a tad bit distressing.

From my own recent experience in trying to obtain a bid to replace a wooden railing I can offer the results of a sample of local contractors.  The goal was to select only reputable local contractors, and of those only the ones that would take such a minor job, so obviously this is a non-random sample and the sample size is quite small.
  • Contractor #1 - Does not even return my calls.
  • Contractor #2 - Returns my call 3 days later, after a brief discussion agrees to call back and come over the next day.  Never called back or showed up.
  • Contractor #3 - Came over the same day to view and discuss the scope of work, and within two weeks produced a detailed, professional estimate including a 2 year guarantee on any defects of material or workmanship.
Now, does it take a genius to figure out who you wanna have working on your house???


Carolyn (sea mystery) said...

I hear you. We use MBE's (minority business enterprises) at work and believe me instead of checking them out, they just use whoever's bid is lowest. It took our office a year and three failed attempts to get a door that fit and actually locked. You'd figure that being on an island, a contractor would take any job close to home instead of having to cross the water everyday. *Sheesh* I hope this one does a fantastic job for you. xxoo

Sheepish Annie said...

Small town living is really rather socially complicated, I find. And island life is even more so! Decisions that would normally be made in a fiscally responsible sort of way are suddenly suspect when somebody's second cousin doesn't get the work.