A year ago I decided to have the big tree in my front yard trimmed. I called two companies. Both were doing work in my neighborhood. Both had nice looking trucks. Good first impression.
One company called me back in a few hours and scheduled a time to come out for an estimate the next day. He arrived on time. Was well groomed. Seemed very nice. Even had a "certified arborist" distinction. He gave me the estimate. $250.
I asked when he could do it. "Next week. We're doing a bigger job up the street, we can do it that same day." Okay. Let's do it. Two days later I recieved an e-mail from his company with a confirmation on the trim date and another copy of the estimate. Keeping me in the loop. Good job.
Later on the day that I received the e-mail from the first guy, the second guy called me back. $200. It wasn't a difficult decision. This guy sounded nice enough, but by not getting back to me as quickly I figured that time wasn't of the essence to him. Who knew when he'd be able to trim my tree? I told him, "Thanks for getting back to me, but I've already scheduled work with another company."
I felt no remorse for paying the first guy $50 more. There's something to that old saying, "you get what you pay for." Both these guys had nice trucks. Both probably did the same quality trim work. But, the timeliness of the response, the good personality, the "arborist" distinction and good communication with e-mail set the first guy apart.
Additionally, the name of the first guy's company was a family name. The second guy had a generic name that was obviously chosen for it's placement in the phone book. Given his lower price and desire to get work by being the first listed tree service in the phone book told me that this guy viewed his business as a commodity. He's probably keeping himself busy. There are many people who are probably willing to sacrifice service quality to save a few bucks. But, this guy could probably make more money by working less if he did realize the value of higher quality service.
The first guy finished the job a day early and also removed a big pile of leaves that I had raked up and was intending to bag. Great customer service!