Buying Toilets Part 1: Innovation

The personal stories seem to be the ones people read the most. So let’s get personal. 

It Could Have Been Worse

Last week I came home to the unwelcome sound of running water. It wasn’t from a sink, but from the ceiling. In fact, two ceilings: steady dripping from three spots in the dining room and two in the kitchen. Ugh.

The culprit was an upstairs toilet, whose tank had cracked down the side.

I’m a decided optimist, so here’s some good news about the predicament:

  • I caught the leaks before they ruined the drywall ceilings.
  • All the water that leaked was clean.
  • We get to practice Buying Excellence in the purchase of a new toilet.

Trading Up

It’s not that I was excited about the hassle and expense of replacing our toilet. But the problem brought the opportunity to improve the power of our flush. This doesn’t need further explanation, but I will add that the loudest screams ever heard in our house happen when that water level is rising, rising… DAAAD! MOM!! HELP!!! We have plungers at-the-ready like Indiana Jones’ whip, and use them with a similar panache. 

Candidly, we’d be happy to leave those heroic moments behind. The household anxiety had not been enough to make us replace a functional toilet. It wasn’t broke, we didn’t fix it. But now we had a need to buy, and an opportunity to improve.

When we Buy, Look for More

Here’s the lesson: every purchase is an opportunity to innovate and improve.

We’ve been trained to look for innovation when we buy computers or cars. We may consider the current styles when buying shoes or coats.

But what about furniture, accounting services, or office space? What about toilets?

These may seem like static commodities where you can compare apples-to-apples and buy the lowest price.

Of course you can do that… but buying for price is risky. The best bargain price could be a bad deal if you don’t take the time to first understand what is important to you, and to then consider your options.

When you buy for Value, the goal is the greatest difference between the Benefit and the Price.

So when the Benefit rises (and Price remains about the same), Value increases. Your Benefit goes up when you enjoy new or different features of what you buy. For most of us, that’s a great working definition of innovation: enjoying new or different features from things that we buy.

Why this Matters to You

By this definition innovation is available everywhere. In fact, there are many options for furniture, accounting services, office space and toilets that were not in the marketplace ten years ago. High-tech and low-tech, change is happening. Some of that change can lift your Benefit and make your life better. (In our case, life is better one flush at a time.)

So the next time something breaks, or you buy something new, be sure to think about innovation. What is important to you? How do market offerings differ? What are your options? (In the Negotiate Value course, there’s a whole module about this called Push the Potential.)

It’s worth repeating: every purchase is an opportunity to innovate. Don’t just replace when you can improve.

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