Sanding our assholes with 150 grit. Slowly. Lovingly.

Good enough.  Minor rant.

I work at a company that produces software that is "good enough" for the job.  We are one-fifth the cost of our next competitor, who can't even come close to our features for the most part.

So when customers start bitching, we offer to customize and add features for a fee.

Sometimes that goes over well, sometimes not.

But more often lately, potential customers want to tell us how to run our business, what features we ought to have, etc.

Well, that's nice.  But basically I say "fuck you!", especially since most of the loudest whiners are the ones who hire overseas, contract labor.

The feature set they are requesting isn't appropriate for software priced at this level, and to hire developers with enough talent to write this stuff well would mean we would have to charge them what our competitors charge.  So they should either NOT buy our product, or sign the damn PO/credit card to authorize the damn work.

We don't do shit for free.  Damn.
Permalink Send private email sharkfish 
September 7th, 2006 2:28pm
> We don't do shit for free.  Damn.

There's nothing for them to lose by asking.
Permalink son of parnas 
September 7th, 2006 2:31pm
True.  But they get mad when we say no.  They act as if WE are the arrogant ones. I have to say no a lot because even with a fee paid it isn't worth our time.
Permalink Send private email sharkfish 
September 7th, 2006 2:31pm
You get paid to say "no"? Then why are you cribbing?
Permalink Send private email के. जे. 
September 7th, 2006 2:33pm
> But they get mad when we say no. 

Again, it doesn't cost them to get mad in the hopes you will cave. I've been at plenty of places that cave when the customer gets mad and it always screws them in the end.

You are right. If it's a feature just for them and they want it in a timely manner then you should get paid. Let them switch.
Permalink son of parnas 
September 7th, 2006 2:35pm
"You get paid to say "no"? Then why are you cribbing?"

Because I have to spend at least 15 minutes explaining this to customers, ever so politely.

I wish I could just cut right to the chase and say "no pay, no play, and even if you pay, we decide."

But they want to be heard.  And that's what I do all fucking day.  Listen to people go on about what great ideas they have and how "if they owned our business" what they would do.

The 15 minutes it takes is because they first have to explain to me WTF they are talking about, and most of these people take forever to get to the point.  We say no, they ask again, only different.
Permalink Send private email sharkfish 
September 7th, 2006 2:36pm
Yeah, son of parnas.  There's always this undertow, unstated speech they are giving me "do you dumbasses know how much money you are passing up!?"

Know-it-alls.
Permalink Send private email sharkfish 
September 7th, 2006 2:38pm
I just feel like bitching.  The one I've had today asked me why I stopped doing internal IT work.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  Because I couldn't say NO, bitch!
Permalink Send private email sharkfish 
September 7th, 2006 2:39pm
I don't get how you charge only 20% of your nearest competitor.

If an equivalent car cost $4000 instead of $20,000, I'd always buy it. Heck, I'd buy it if cost $8000. Or $12,000.

Try that. Try doubling your prices. Or at least for the customerizations. A car salesman would never refuse a customer offering to pay the sticker price of a car. It seems something's amiss when your company refuses to do work at its advertized rates.
Permalink Send private email just me 
September 7th, 2006 2:42pm
"Try that. Try doubling your prices. Or at least for the customerizations. A car salesman would never refuse a customer offering to pay the sticker price of a car. It seems something's amiss when your company refuses to do work at its advertized rates."

We do need more people, but somebody around here must have read the Joel article that said "don't hire until you just can't take it anymore".

I wish we could charge 10X what we charge, but then we couldn't say "no" to customizations--people who spend a lot of money have a certain expectation of accommodation that we just don't have to deal with at our current price point.
Permalink Send private email sharkfish 
September 7th, 2006 2:45pm
It's called market pressure. You have to offer better options than your competitors or your customers will go elsewhere. Right now you are lucky in that there is a lack of competition at the same price point, but what happens if ever someone comes along and says "yes" for the same money where you are saying "no"?

If you owned your own business and were selling your own product you would have to deal with this big time, and what's more saying "no" would actually hurt rather than just prompting a harmless rant. In that case, every "no" might be a lost sale.
Permalink Send private email bon vivant 
September 7th, 2006 2:47pm
Why would you want to say no? If they pay, you do it.
That's where the money with you get paid comes from you know?
Permalink Send private email Masiosare 
September 7th, 2006 2:48pm
Be careful.

IBM and Ander...Accenture can eat your lunch.
Permalink Rick Zeng/Tseng 
September 7th, 2006 2:49pm
Hire more people. I hear you can pay Chinamen two eggrolls and an imaginary roll in the hay to get the work done.
Permalink  
September 7th, 2006 2:51pm
"Why would you want to say no? If they pay, you do it.
That's where the money with you get paid comes from you know?"


Some features aren't worth the support nightmares they cause.
Permalink Send private email sharkfish 
September 7th, 2006 2:52pm
Outsource that part of the job to India at half the additional cost quoted. Support can further be outsourced to the Philipines at half of that half. You get the added advantage of being labelled an MNC.
Permalink Send private email के. जे. 
September 7th, 2006 2:55pm
Well... then you make em pay for the nightmares.
You sound like my former boss, she didn't want to hear stupid requests. But she was losing costumers.

They want it blue? Charge em for the change. Then they want it red? Of course, whatever they want. But everything has a cost.

With some clients can have some considerations. Just because later they will pay you tons of money, but they must be the less.
Permalink Send private email Masiosare 
September 7th, 2006 2:56pm
I should think that the flaming breasts and knife-like fingernails would be sufficient to establish "no" on the first repetition.  Or do they not let you use those at the office?
Permalink Send private email Clay Dowling 
September 7th, 2006 2:59pm
These are all very good points but being in the consulting business kinda isn't good when you don't want to manage overseas labor.  US labor is too expensive.

A much better business is shrinkwrap.  I think I'm starting to think like my employer in that if you want to grow a business, it is better to have a product that gets you residual growth/residual and geometric earnings through maintenance fees rather than building consultingware which relies on talent, and is limited to the number of hours you can charge in a day.
Permalink Send private email sharkfish 
September 7th, 2006 2:59pm
Eventually you'll come to decide that a subscription model of web software is the way to go.
Permalink Send private email Aaron F Stanton 
September 7th, 2006 6:46pm
Hey, that's the argument Joel made umpteen years ago ... consulting doesn't scale.

Of course if many people leave consulting for the shrinkwrap industry the prices for consulting will go up to comepnsate (because the demand won't really go down). Some of us don't mind being non-scalable. As long we get paid well for the priviledge.
Permalink Send private email just me 
September 7th, 2006 7:05pm
"Eventually you'll come to decide that a subscription model of web software is the way to go."

That's kinda what we do, I think.  We charge a yearly fee, which includes updates and support.
Permalink Send private email sharkfish 
September 7th, 2006 7:38pm
"A much better business is shrinkwrap.  I think I'm starting to think like my employer in that if you want to grow a business, it is better to have a product that gets you residual growth/residual and geometric earnings through maintenance fees rather than building consultingware which relies on talent, and is limited to the number of hours you can charge in a day."

yup. or what Aaron said. Basically - you want a *product*. Not selling hours. It hurts more to start, but in the end it's the only thing that makes sense.
Permalink $-- 
September 7th, 2006 7:52pm

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