Cheap, Fast or Good: Which Is Most Important?

Not many companies give such an honest assessment of their ability, but this common phrase is true across the board. Rarely, if ever, do you get the luxury of getting all three from any product or service.

June 20, 2018

You can have it cheap, fast or good. Pick two.

Not many companies give such an honest assessment of their ability, but this common phrase is true across the board. Rarely, if ever, do you get the luxury of getting all three from any product or service.

Obviously, anyone offered a product or service that meets all three standards will take it in a heartbeat. Many shoppers call, text or walk into a business thinking, “Give me your best thing at the lowest cost as fast as possible.” But what they really want is the highest quality item for their dollar, reasonably fast.

Cheap, Fast or Good: Pick Two
Here’s an example. Bill wants a nearly top-of-the-line (no need to get crazy), high-quality, four-star grill with lots of great reviews. His old grill died in the peak of grilling season, so he feels a little desperate.

But after finding the grill online, Bill sees it is on back order for two weeks. That gives him three choices:

  1. Get a lower quality grill — cheap and fast
  2. Choose a higher-end grill — fast and good
  3. Wait for the grill to restock — good and cheap

Cheap, fast or good. No matter the option, Bill can only pick two.

Choosing the Best Option for Your Business

In the end, Bill has to choose the result that makes sense for him. And if you’re a business professional looking for the best communication solutions or other services for your business, the cheap, fast or good rule holds true for you, too.

For instance, when choosing the right communication provider, you often need to pick between a managed and do-it-yourself provider. Click here to learn more about what these look like in the contact center space.

A managed provider designs and hosts a company’s contact center, proactive messaging and other communication solutions. This type of provider manages the entire process so the business owner can take a hands-off approach.

Other providers, sometimes known as software as a service (SaaS), simply host the solution but expect the buyer to make changes to their own solution as needed.


Price and speed vary between the two, but managed providers often provide higher-quality service. But do your research and compare the pros and cons of both using tools like this whitepaper, which charts the differences in managed vs. non-managed SMS providers.

Whether you’re comparing communication providers or other business solutions, choosing between cheap, fast and good providers will always be needed. So if you’re trying to decide which standard is most important, here are the benefits and drawbacks of all three.

Getting it Fast

Instant gratification drives today’s business environment. Whether it’s products, services or information, people often see speed as king. When choosing cheap, fast or good, the fast option often comes out on top.

We live in the “on-demand” age. Whether it’s T.V., transportation or food service, customers expect to get what they want right now. And business leaders are the same. For many employers, a service with a swift path from concept to market equals a big win.

Market demand forces businesses of all sizes to develop products and services that meet the “fast” requirement first. But when choosing a service that affects your business, it should perhaps be your last consideration.

Any service you choose should have an impact far down the road, so there’s no rush. Plus, taking your time doing champion-challenger testing or with a pilot project can help avoid mistakes, which can hurt quality and cost more in the long run.

Keeping it Cheap

Some companies have met the speed requirement and still provide their products and services at a lower cost. Lean manufacturing and operational efficiencies allow companies to pass savings along to the consumer.

And although buyers are willing to spend more these days for good products and services, there is still a place in the market for cheaper alternatives. That’s why Apple continues to sell the iPhone SE, which is less than half the price of its top-of-the-line, thousand-dollar phone.

But with a lower price tag comes fewer bells and whistles. In these cases, the “good” element tends to suffer. Plus, the flexibility in a business solution tends to be compromised. If you’ve ever chosen a company’s free option, you’ve surely noticed there are fewer choices, limited features and restricted access to customer support.

Choosing the Good

Since customers desire high degrees of speed and quality at a low price, there’s one more way businesses try to meet this need: value, or how much the product or service is worth in the market in terms of quality compared to price.

Finding the right value is key. Set the price too high, and value drops off the map. Set it too low, and you fail to reap the full ROI. But whatever your value target, one aspect remains true. The product must be good quality. If the product or service breaks down, the long-term value is zero.

So as Bill compares grill options, his best bet is probably to wait until his amazing new Grill-asaurus (short for huge and powerful grill) shows up in the store. That way, he gets the exact product he wants at his ideal value.

Cheap, Fast or Good: Your Best Option

So in closing, the “pick two” option is still in effect in most business decisions, so beware of companies who say they can meet all three standards.

And if “cheap and fast” are your preferred options, then you will get what you pay for by giving up quality, when in most cases the quality piece is all you really need. That way, you know it will work as advertised, last a long-time and provide the benefits you expect.

That’s the kind of quality we strive to create at Intrado. So if you’re in the market for new business and customer communication solutions, check out our suite of products, or call or text an Intrado expert at 800.841.9000.

And now that you know what to expect from your communication provider, check out these 27 stats that show what consumers expect from your brand communication.

Before jumping into any business decision, take a little extra time to make sure you’re getting the quality you need for the value you expect. That way, you’re sure to be more than happy with your own Grill-asaurus — whatever that may be.

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