Good, fast and cheap - Pick any two

There's an old saying in business that says you can pick any 2 from: Good, Fast and Cheap. It comes from the world of Project Management.

In fact if you've ever chosen the cheapest quote when running a project or renovating your house, you probably won't make that error again.Photo Chicken Xcel Roll

I tend to agree with the saying. In essence it highlights that you can't really expect something that's fast and good to be cheap. Or you can't get expect something that's cheap and good to come quickly. Or, if it's fast and it's cheap, don't hold your breath for it to be any good. There's certainly something in it.

If you want to see a medical specialist, good luck getting in quickly. Unless it's life threatening, you'll be waiting a long time. Fancy dining at a leading restaurant this weekend. No chance. You'll be waiting for months.

We've all had experiences with fast food. Yes, it's cheap and yes it's quick, but any good? Not likely. Most of the time you wouldn't let your dog eat it. However there's a little Vietnamese lunch bar, called Xcel Roll, near where I live in Coogee, that is all 3. Good, Fast and Cheap.

The food is always fresh; the quality outstanding and despite always being busy, they've devised a clever serving system where you are always served quickly. The take away lunch bar is called Xcel roll. There's 4 of them in Sydney. The one in Coogee, is not much bigger than an old fashioned phone box.  

Last week, on a rainy weekday, I went for lunch. There are plenty of other café's and  casual lunch bars either side of Xcel roll. Almost all of them were empty. There was queue of about 15 people outside Xcel roll snaking it's way, as it often does, up Coogee Bay Road. I joined the queue at Xcel, knowing from experience that I wouldn't have to wait for too long. 7 minutes later I was enjoying another terrific chicken and salad on a soft wholemeal roll.

The price for a high quality Vietnamese chicken roll is not much more than a small long black coffee at the airport. ($6.50). Most of the café's in this strip are charging close to double.

Xcel roll is in it for the long haul. Their margins must be very tight. They can trade that off against very large volumes. I'm guessing they would sell more rolls in a day than most of their competitors sell in a week. Like most successful business they get the basics right. Consistency, reliability, quality and great service. The customers experience  is at the heart of everything they do. They know that to succeed in business, and especially in small business, you need to build long term relationships with your customers, by providing them with quality and value for money. When you do this, they become raving fans and they keep coming back. Some food establishments seem obsessed with getting you to like them on Social Media. Xcel just gets on with it. From the lines I always see outside their shop, I'd say they're on to something.   

Next time you're in the market for anything (apart from a Vietnamese chicken roll) it's useful to remember the old adage. Fast, Good and Cheap; pick any two. If they offer all 3 and can deliver on all 3, then you've found yourself something special.


Posted in Leadership; Tagged Leadership; Posted by Steve Herzberg

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