“We are what we repeatedly do” ~Aristotle
No doubt about it, this is the age of quantity! We want it all, preferably for less, and we want it now! How many of us pass up the ‘50% more for the same price’ package in the grocery store? Or the ‘Buy 2, Get 1 Free!’ promotion? How about ‘Same Day Service’? We like that one! Who wouldn’t? Get more for your money in half the time is what it’s all about! Go Quantity!!
On the other hand, what if the great deals came with a codicil? What if the sign had some really small print? What if the deal isn’t as good as it seems? Maybe we wouldn’t be so apt to go back and partake of that particular deal again?
How about the cut-rate hair salon that really lives up to ‘cut-rate’ part, such as the $10 color job that leaves you with cotton-ball textured white hair -oops! You were going for red, weren’t you? Or the low rate insurance that leaves you less than covered in the event of an emergency? Or maybe the fish you bought from the freezer on the back of that nice mans truck that only cost $3 and a night in the ER…As bad, or maybe sad, as these examples are, we, as consumers, should always approach ‘too good to be true’ deals with caveat emptor firmly in our minds, indeed, let the buyer beware!
So, this is the age of quantity. Is this always a good thing? What about in regards to your work, your craft? Should you jump on the quantity bandwagon and ride it for all it’s worth? We have to make a living, right?
Quality vs. Quantity
Return with me, if you will, to the days of yore, when customer service meant something, when people began and ended their careers at the same job, and when pride in a job well done was the norm. I’m not sure when all of that good stuff went by the wayside, but somewhere, somehow, while we weren’t looking, it did. Not completely, of course. There are still pockets that survive, here and there. It’s the ‘here’ part I’d like to address.
A couple of weeks ago, a reader of TipSquirrel was kind enough to leave me her impressions of what I wrote in a tutorial. I had maintained, basically, that any job worth doing was worth doing right and that every little thing that could be fixed in a restoration should be, whether readily visible to the naked eye, or not. The commenter felt this was a waste of time and felt that there should be a “balance getting a good result with producing enough work to pay the bills”. Call me crazy, but I totally disagree. I’ve been told my entire life to “never say never”, and so I won’t, but I will say that I’ll (so close as to not even be noticed, at no time, don’t hold your breath, no way, not at all, not on your life, under any condition) not let work out of here with only a “good result”. Here are a few reasons:
Reason #1: I’m working in a field, digital photo restoration, that is taken up by many, many people, many of whom don’t know a daguerreotype from a Polaroid or a parietal from a ramus. Many think that because they’re a photographer, or because they have a copy of Photoshop, they can automatically do photo restoration. Often, when ideas are bandied about on how to make a few extra bucks working from home, photo restoration is the number one suggestion – never mind you don’t actually know what the blue devil you’re doing! So how to stand out among all the dreamers who think photo restoration is a paint-by-numbers skill? Be the absolute best I can be and continue to believe that my skill will set me apart.
Reason #2: I’m a wee bit on the obsessive side – just a wee, mind you! I still angst over the restorations I’ve let out the door that weren’t quiet perfect – and none are ever quite perfect! I did, eventually, have to come to terms with the obsessiveness, and learn when to say when. But that “when” moment is not ever set at just “good enough”!
Reason #3: I want to avoid humiliation if at all possible. Call me crazy. However, if someone ever decided to enlarge one of the photos that I restored for a family reunion poster (or whatever) or, say, to cover the side of a bus (it could happen!), how humiliated would I be to have everyone talking about all the spots (or whatever) that were left on it! Sure, that’s not terribly likely to happen, but where there’s ever a chance, I’m going to cover my fanny and all my bases. That’s just me, though…
Yes, I’m a throwback to another age, I readily admit it. I have a work ethic that suits me and my customers to a “T”. I know I’ll never make tons of money off restoration, but I’ll be rich in satisfaction with a job well done, I’ll be content that I’ve done the best job that I can do, I’ll sleep well knowing I don’t let my work go out the door being just “good enough”. I also understand that there are people, a lot of people, that sleep perfectly well when they’re work goes out “good enough” and they probably sleep on better sheets than me. As long as they’re fine with that, so am I. In a perfect world, there would be no debate. Quality would go hand in hand with quantity. We’d all be really fast, and really good. But this isn’t a perfect world and often one or the other, quality or quantity suffers and we have to choose which way we’re going to go.
When it comes to the work you do, quality or quantity? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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