February 29, 2008

False Economy?

I went to a meeting the other day with one of my clients and two third-party developers. We were meeting at the developers' offices, in a town I'm not familiar with, so when I arrived I looked for the closest parking garage and parked there.

Arriving at the offices, the opening smalltalk included parking. Both my client's representative and the two developers had parked in two-hour free parking areas, and when I said I'd used the parking garage eyebrows were raised and one person asked me "how much does that cost?". I replied "I don't know, I didn't even think to look".

The meeting lasted four hours, so half way through the other three participants in the meeting had to take ten minutes or so out to juggle their cars and avoid tickets. On my return to the parking garage I discovered that the charge equated to approximately three minutes' billable income, which I was happy to write off. Assuming the other three participants are similarly expensive their decision may have saved them personally a dollar or two, but it probably cost the client over a hundred bucks in lost time.

Yet I'm the one who's regarded as stupid for paying to park so I can happily take as long as I need to meet without interruption. I'd like to think my clients pay me the rates they do so, among other things, they don't have to pay me to go out and move my car in the middle of meetings. A couple of dollars out of my pocket is well worth it if the client gets (and perceives) better value for money as a result.


PJE said...

This is a nice example of the two brain modes at work. :)

One mode is concerned with maximizing gain, the other with minimizing loss. Both your actions, and those of your colleagues, are perfectly rational and reasonable, when viewed through the corresponding filter. Unfortunately, we don't get to *choose* which mode we operate out of at any given moment.

At least, not directly anyway. So it's no use arguing with them; they will never be convinced without some mental refactoring.

Of course, there is probably *some* context in which *you* will be the conservative one, and think *they* are idiots for engaging in gain-maximizing behaviors. For example, if they play the lottery, and you don't. :)

Steve said...

Thanks for your comments. I intuitively sensed you are correct in saying there's no point arguing with them, so I didn't mention it directly and posted this snarky blog entry instead.

Since my expectation of gain on the lottery is negative I don't play it. I prefer to gain pleasure from expenditure with low expectations of return by contributing to charities. I see this behavior as rational, but I am sure others perceive it as (further) proof that I have no sense of fun.