Honestly, after my first time doing business in another country, I really didn’t want to come back and do business here anymore. I went to Colombia for 3 weeks, specifically Medellin, which I’m sure you know by now if you read my blog often.
But during my trip we accomplished many things. We got T-shirts printed, a new Banner printed, Logo Stamps made, promotional fortune cookies with our business cards and custom messages, we interviewed 18 amazingly talented graphic designers, and hosted a party for independent artists at a brewery with 5 free beers for everyone, with about 155 people who showed up, we had a DJ with original music, a photographer, 3 models, and even a local TV show showed up.
Now before I even tell you how much this stuff cost, I want to first talk about the more important aspect – Costumer Service.
The reason I say more important is because I didn’t know what customer service was until I went to Colombia. Once I realized what it was, I realized it was more valuable than anything else, and even if the prices were the same as here, I would have been completely happy.
These people bent over backwards for me. They did overnight designs, on the spot changes, kept in constant contact, and then even delivered the product right to me afterwards…all of them! I’ll give you a great example with the banner. We saw a little print shop on a block near where we were staying, and we decided to stop in to see what they had. They actually did a lot of banner work, and other things like big cut-outs and stuff like that. They were a print shop and a design shop in one.
Their prices were ridiculously low, about $15 for a design, but what was more surprising was that once we said we wanted to make an appointment to meet with a designer, they took us back to a room, and we met with one right then. We gave him a couple files with our logos and stuff, described to him what we wanted, and he went to work, while we were still there. The next day he came back with a finished design version. We made a couple of changes, sent it back, then the next day we saw the changes and it was perfect, and it got printed that day.
It took 3 days to design and print this banner, where it would have taken at least 2 weeks here, by the time it got from the designers to the printers, and here if the design needs last minute changes, and the printers have to mess with it at all, don’t even get me started with what they charge sometimes. This designer delivered the banner to us personally, around 6:00pm after work, and after waiting extra time after for it to dry. If a 3 day turn around, close attention to need, and a personal delivery isn’t customer service, I really don’t even want to know what is.
Okay, the banner cost under $100, where here it would have been about $500-$600 for a banner of the size here. For the whole brewery, staffed, from 6-9:30pm on a friday night, with 5 free beers per person, we paid $5.00 per head, and paid nothing up front. We also paid like $150 bucks total for 3 gorgeous models to come, wear our shirts, and give out our information to the crowd. (Slideshow here) I won’t even go into how great the shirt guys were.
The reasons to outsource just kept adding up. We didn’t even pay these people up front. They honestly will start working before you even talk about method of payment or anything, because they figure if they do the work, and diligently, as they do, you will definitely pay them before you pay someone else. Also it doesn’t hurt that they know American’s have more money than other people in their area, which is just another perk of outsourcing.
Colombia has really taught me something about work ethic. Medellin is supposed to be a pretty laid back city, but from what I saw, people will bust their ass for you. It makes me almost sick to think about how “busy” everyone is here, and how important everyone thinks their time is, to the point where if you even approach them about work, you get thrown on the bottom of a pile that could take the person 2 weeks until they even get to you.
Here, our view of work I think is much more laid back than in other countries, despite our view that our work is more important, or on a higher level. The truth is the lack of customer service and attention to detail actually makes our work of a lower quality than in other countries, while their prices are lower! Why stay here?
Most people are almost always in a residual of work that we’ve had on our plates from 2 weeks ago, and are just starting or finishing now. People in Colombia accept new work and get started right away, literally. Not because they don’t have other work, but because they work so hard on the work that they do have, that by the time new work comes in, they’re almost done with the other stuff and they have the time to dedicate fully to you. Here we are so concerned with how busy our schedule is, and how we’re going to do the work, that we waste more time scheduling, instead of just working.
I’ve ruined it for myself. Now it’s messed up to me when I come to someone with a project and I say I need it by the end of the week, and they say “no one could realistically get that done in that time, it’s going to take probably 1 1/2 – 2 weeks.” Before, I would say “well okay, I understand.” Now that sounds insane. I just saw someone do it in 3 days! and for cheaper! and they delivered!!! Just because nobody else in the market is working harder than you, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. But that is how things operate here in our market, and when compared to other places, who are supposedly less advanced, our work is truly inferior, and worse yet, we’ve gotten used to it.
It’s no wonder everybody outsources. If you work at a company where they’re starting to outsource to another country, I would suggest taking a trip there if you can, or at least check out some Youtube videos, or make some phone calls to see how they operate there. Chances are they’re much more efficient and easier to deal with, as long as you speak their language. If you can even start to replicate what they do in the least, you would completely distinguish yourself amongst everyone else working around you.
We really need to learn something from these countries. It’s not JUST that they’re cheaper; they actually work extremely hard for their money, and the price is just a plus. They’re value-given to money ratio is WAY higher than ours. We’re all about giving a little for a lot, while they do the opposite. For them, they’re still getting paid usually more than a local job, and they’re just as happy as you are in the end.
Why would people here not outsource? Unless we start giving people a reason not to, by upping our customer service and work ethic, we will just keep losing jobs. We need to check ourselves for a second, and realize we are not as superior as we think, and I think our prices need to start reflecting the value that we do give. If the price don’t go down, pump up the customer service!
Written by: Dante Cullari Founder & President Beat-Play, LLC