Red Flag Series: Quantity vs. Quality

\ ‘red- ‘flag \ (noun): a warning signal or sign; something that indicates or draws attention to a problem, danger, or irregularity

The problem with red flags is that we usually don’t see them until it’s too late. They aren’t always recognizable at first – which is what can make them so dangerous. Left to their own devices, these issues will grow bigger and more problematic over time.

The intention of this series is to put the spotlight on the red flags in hopes of avoiding regrettable decisions in the future.


Quantity isn’t Quality

Have you ever wondered why the nicest restaurants have such limited menus? Gordon Ramsey is quite well-known for delicately admonishing restaurant owners who have too many offerings and for good reason: it’s rare that a kitchen can execute a variety of dishes at a high caliber. Just because you CAN cook everything, doesn’t mean you should. 

This problem stretches far beyond the reach of a kitchen. Being the best in your field has nothing to do with the scope of your offerings. It lies solely in the quality of work. Too often businesses veer outside their lane. Sometimes, it’s because they see an opportunity in the marketplace (remember Microsoft Zune?), or from the fear of letting their customers down. The possibility of being bested by a competitor pushes companies to say “we can do it all!”

They probably can…but should they?


Red Flag #1: The Cheesecake Factory Menu

Much like the intro of this blog alluded to, it’s crucial that you’re skeptical of any company that offers too much. There are janitorial services that promise not only to clean but to be event hosts, parking attendants, catering for meetings, and so much more. There are property damage outfits who claim to remediate your home, set up hotel stays, and rehab your carpets, HVAC, and electrical systems too. One-stop shops have become the norm and that’s cause for concern.

You might say, “well…The Cheesecake Factory is good and they have a menu the size of a Harry Potter novel!” Sure. However, that’s precisely why it’s a red flag. It’s up to you to understand the risk. With such an expansive menu, The Cheesecake Factory will experience multiple pain points solely by design. With so much to offer, the menu creates potential problems from ingredient sourcing to backlogged kitchen times, any of which can get served to you.

Unpacking this further, more offerings mean more overhead – and increased overhead will always translate into higher prices. Forbes wrote this piece for business owners but it’s really telling for the consumer as well. Each additional deliverable is going to divert focus and consume cash flow. Do we as consumers really want unfocused and cash-poor operations in our facilities? Probably not.

Essentially, an impressive menu should give you pause as it could derail you from what you’re looking for. Instead, keep the focus on your particular needs. If you are in search of janitorial, check out reviews for that service (not the company as a whole). It’s easy to get wowed by offerings – but you’ll get better results from a “specialist” than a “generalist”.

Bottom line: if you only want cheesecake, stop wasting time looking at chicken entrees.


Red Flag #2 The Over-Promisers

Let’s start off with some statistics:

Sometimes it isn’t the offerings that are the problem. With customer expectations higher than ever, businesses are doing whatever they can to set themselves apart from the crowd. Many times that means companies begin shapeshifting to embody what they think a client needs which leads to overpromising and ultimately, underdelivering.

If you’re looking to hire services, be suspicious of the “yes-man”. While you want a company that’s willing to give you a great experience, you also deserve a provider who sets clear expectations from the very beginning. A reputable company should have a clear understanding of your needs and be able to communicate what to (and what not to) expect out of their services.

Bottom line: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.


Red Flag #3 The Client List 

I always laugh at those commercials that say, “as seen on The Today Show, MSNBC, Good Morning America…” as if that is going to push me to purchase the product. I don’t really care that they’ve been featured on those outlets, I want an honest, solid review. Your platform and visibility don’t concern me. The quality of what you’re selling does.

Many times companies will have partners splashed across their websites saying “we proudly serve XYZ…” which is great…But do you still provide services for those entities? Do you have a solid review from them or are they just another name to fill space on your website? A lot of names can sometimes mean that they’ve shuffled through a lot of different clients. And wouldn’t you rather have someone’s services who have maintained their clientele instead of padding their address book?

In the same way as hiring a new employee, ask for references. With risk management services such as janitorial and property damage, try and get reviews and contact information for people both inside and outside of your industry. If you work in manufacturing, ask for a reference from another corporation but maybe a smaller client as well. Checking references in various settings will tell you the quality of the work, and also give you an idea of how the company manages its field staff and time.

Bottom line: Even with a client list, quantity doesn’t always mean quality. 

Business size, client lists, and a full suite of offerings can seem enticing – but bigger doesn’t always mean better. Whether you’re in the market for janitorial services, property damage assistance, or something else…it’s up to you to identify the red flags. 

There are many companies and businesses that do a lot of things well but there are just as many (if not, more) who don’t. Google perfected a search engine before branching into other mediums, Amazon was once just a bookstore, and Zoë Facility Services spent nearly 20 years perfecting janitorial processes before it decided to dive into the world of property damage. Look for the companies that have perfected each facet of their craft before creating more offerings.

Whatever you decide…make sure the menu suits your tastes. Not the other way around.