Friday, January 29, 2010

Is the buying cycle different for services vs. goods?

I’m a shopper. It’s not that I like to shop, but when I do, I tend to shop around, read reviews, decide what I want then try to find the best price. But – that’s only for goods – computers, printers, cell phones, cars, an oven, etc. I recently noticed when shopping for services (or hiring which is kind of like shopping for services) I tend to make decisions MUCH differently. The funny thing is that I make those decisions much more quickly with much less comparison shopping, even when the dollar value is higher.

One example – we recently hired a marketing agency (Response Marketing – check them out they’re awesome!) and although my business partner and I had not intended on hiring them, or any other marketing agency, we had made our decision before our contact had gotten into the elevator. Now, we both know of many other agencies and sole practitioners, so why didn’t we shop around? Easy – we like and trusted the owner of this firm, we were comfortable with the price, and we believed that they could help us.

I find comparison shopping for services to be somewhat problematic. After all, you can’t assume that a $100/hour service provider is better, worse, or the same than a $150/hour service provider. It has everything to do with the person or company and their process, and if you feel comfortable with them. On the other hand, an iPhone 3Gs with 16 GB is an iPhone 3Gs w/ 16 GB (not that you’re going to get a deal on that). When shopping for a service provider, I want someone I am confident is going to do an excellent job. On goods – I still love a good deal!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Is Contingent Staffing a trend?

I read an article today that talked about Contingent Staffing, which they defined as the use of temporary or freelance labor, as a trend. I don’t agree with this. This is nothing new; companies have been doing this forever. I think what we’re seeing is a cycle. We have noticed in our business when the economy is booming companies want to hire full time people, to minimize the “brain drain” when the contingent folks leave, and impacts in internal morale from hiring them in the first place. In 2004-2006, we were seeing far more opportunities for full time placements than consulting engagements. Conversely, when the economy struggles, companies still want to complete their projects so they hire temporary or contract labor, as their doing now. I suspect in the coming years, we’ll see the pendulum move back towards a more balanced approach of full time people and contract, temporary or contingent workers.

What do you think?