Prices Down, Customer Service Up?

The housing market is not the only place we are seeing prices slashed.  With consumer’s purse strings so tight and competition for our money so thick, businesses are being forced to find ways to stand out from the crowd.

We recently went vehicle shopping.  I got my super duper Jeep Cherokee for a song in December.  It was a 2008 model and had all kinds of rebates on top of Hubby’s Chrysler employee discount.  But with Hubby’s truck lease ending in March we were starting to sweat.  If you have shopped for a truck lately you will know that prices and payments are HIGH!  We were having sticker shock going from lease pricing to purchase pricing to begin with, but with everything compatible to what Hubs had before being priced at $40,000 and higher we just did not see how we could buy another Big Ram so my dear hunting/gathering/hauling husband was preparing for life with what he could afford, a car instead of a truck.

But guess what!  March is TRUCK month at Chrysler! We just got that same $40,000 truck for $27,000.  How amazing is that?  I will tell you how amazing it is… the payment is almost HALF of what we were quoted in January!  Hot diggety!  Why?  There is a lot of competition out there so car manufacturers have to be competitive.  So if a Big Ram is your cup of tea, NOW is the time to buy!

Not car shopping?  How about eating?  Last week we went to our neighborhood Applebees.  We have been there a zillion times.  But the service this time was on a whole different level.  Not that it was bad before, but our server and the manager were so attentive and made sure we had whatever we needed at all times.  Our iced tea never went dry.  Our chips never ran out.  We felt like VIPs.  I would think it’s more difficult to cut prices at a restaurant and compete that way, so I have to think that Applebees, and anyone else who is smart, knows that customer service is the way to win people over right now so that they see additional value in spending their money on dinner out.

We also just changed our insurance policies.  When is the last time you shopped around for term life insurance rates?  Or car insurance?  Cutting back on luxuries and clipping coupons is a good place to start finding extra money in your wallet, but with a few phone calls or internet browsing you might find better prices on everything from insurance to phone service.

Dropping prices in this economy is not any big shocker, but the positive change in customer service is a nice treat.  Has anyone else noticed receiving better treatment at the businesses they frequent?  And how much of an effect does service have on your decision where to spend your hard earned money?

Lay Offs and Job Cuts and Bail Outs, Oh My

Isn’t it tough just “being” right now?  Being happy, being positive, being productive, being in charge of a family, being on time with your bills, and being strong?  We know that a positive attitude is the number one defense against all the crap being flung at us right now.  Without a positive outlook it is more difficult to get the job done, find the new job, and brainstorm your way to keeping food on the table, gas in the car, and money in the bank. But it is so difficult to maintain that positivity when you are watching factories close and neighbors lose their jobs.  What do we do?

We regroup, retrain, reorganize, rethink our plans, that’s all.

Let’s use the Big Three Automakers as an example of where a lot of us need to change our thinking.  Many cities and many companies are experiencing similar turmoil, just probably not on the same level.  When my Hubby graduated with a degree in draft and design I tried to convince him to stay away from the automakers but here’s the thing.  Here in Flint, that’s our comfort zone.  Our parents worked there and their parents before them.  At almost twice the wage and being what felt like the “safe” choice, to him it was a no brainer. It is what people “did”.

That was about twenty years ago.  It sure isn’t the safe bet now.  In fact, not only are the direct employees in for a hit, but its affiliates.  Then you’re got all the small businesses that built nearby the factories to accomodate the autoworkers for lunch, bunsiness dinners, conference rooms, etc.  I really hope the automakers succeed.  It is a rich part of American history that I hate to see disappear.  They too need to reorganize and rethink things.  But back to us.

Where did we go wrong?  What can we do differently from here out.  Stop DEPENDING on GM for our livelihood. (or whatever company is wearing those shoes in your city).  REALIZE that there is more to YOUR life than building cars.  Building cars isn’t even close to being one of the top careers available to you.  One industry that never falters is the health care industry.  Nurses and medical assistants are always needed.  Tap into your entrepreneurial spirit.  Paint. Read. Write.  There is always a risk in losing your job or not making the money you desire.  But at least if you’re doing something for yourself, something you love, you increase your chances of being HAPPY.

When Hubby graduated he recieved job offers in draft and design for $9/hour.  At the same time Chrysler offered him $17/hour.  Which would you have chosen?

Need a giggle?  Check out the most hilarious game of “Aw Snap” yet.