I often use my umbrella story to illustrate this oft ignored fact of life. With so many deals going around and special bargain stores and online offerings thrust in front of us 24/7, it is hard to ignore a low ‘price point.’
So a few summers ago we moved into The Residence – our home at the top of Camps Bay, with monstrous views of the ocean and a butler wearing a pith. Such a fine setting would surely require some umbrellas around the pool. So off I went to Builder’s Warehouse to buy one of those wind-up umbrellas. It was very well price and I was pleased with Builder’s Warehouse. For a moment.
During one simple repositioning moment, it became clear that the umbrella’s pole was made of a substance not much stronger than toilet paper. I must just pause at this point and give a shout out to the guy that attacked me on the beach with an umbrella – if you missed that story check it out here. It’s got nothing to do with what I’m telling you now, but the umbrella connection made me think of it.
So back to the story – the pole was made of crap and I asked Chelsea to take it back to Builder’s Warehouse – with the slip – to get me a new one. The new one arrived and I set it up for the next pool session.
The next pool session came and so did a gust of wind – which is rare in Camps Bay. Guess what happened? Yes, the whole pole bent in half. After the THIRD return, it became quite evident that the umbrella must be from Builder’s Warehouse’s satire aisle – because this was clearly a joke umbrella. An umbrella you buy to play a trick on your nemesis, perhaps.
Now I wasn’t losing money every time, as I was getting a new one under guarantee. What was bothering me was the time I was wasting having Chelsea go back and forth to Builder’s Warehouse. And yes, shriek, the petrol!
That’s when I decided to invest in an “expensive” umbrella – from Cape Umbrellas I think. It cost four times the price and works out cheaper than the resources wasted on the previous exercise. And you know what – it still looks new after two seasons.
Nowadays, when I find myself at the consumer end of the game, I check the prices and prefer to look at the ‘reassuringly expensive‘ options. Because there’s a reason why something costs five or 10 times more than the next thing – and I find comfort in that price buffer.
Our new offices are another great example of this principal. Cartel House doesn’t cost four or five times more than the next office space, but seems to price itself high enough to avoid the riff-raff. The concept of charging a premium to avoid rubbish is not new, but I tell you what is new in this country, is a space that matches that exclusivity with comfort. And I’m not talking bullshit fake Philippe Starke chairs that litter homes across the Atlantic Seaboard, I’m talking genuine Chesterfield sofas and Persian carpets everywhere you look. I’m talking R10,000 – R200,000 pieces of furniture and art strewn around – perfectly. With hidden Jo Malone scent wafting through, as a wandering barista takes your coffee order, with scrambled eggs on the side please. Delivered to your desk with a knife and fork. In-house tailor – roof deck clubhouse and pool. Blah blah blah – you get the picture.
I was having a power lunch at Manos in Green Point with a friend who started one of South Africa’s most successful auctioning companies. He’s seen a lot of office space in his time and was dragged off to see Cartel House. “I nearly fell flat on my back”, is what he said to me, when describing his visit.
Another friend owns a successful high-end interiors shop in Cape Town paid a visit. He noticed a massive light fitting, cupped his hand and said, “I know that piece, we used to stock them – they’re not cheap.”
No, they’re not cheap.
When I told him what I was paying for my office space, and how much it costs for a single desk (for the entrepreneurs out there), he gave a thoughtful, pondering nod.
“Does that include boardroom access and reception service?” he asked.
“Yes,” I replied – “and wi-fi.”
“That’s actually very good”, he decided. “If we didn’t have our premises, I’d be here in a heartbeat.”
It’s like the umbrella. The work you’re getting done – the productivity and the alignment of your brand with such exceptional quality – can only reap rewards.
Finding ‘cheap’ office space isn’t clever. It’s damaging your brand and damaging your productivity. You can’t afford to do that.
You can’t afford to buy cheap.
Check out Cartel House.
You better move as well – They’re got something like 50 memberships left and apparently the price will go up as that number decreases.
That’ll keep out the riff-raff..
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