Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tackling Life's Challenges

Well, I did it. I went out yesterday on my lunch hour and bought two 40lb pounds of sidewalk salt. The guy at Lowe's said, "Wow. You are really getting prepared for winter!" My response: 1) Um... Michigan!, 2) Might as well stock up while I am here, and 3) It isn't like it goes bad! The next step is to get it out of the plastic bags and into some buckets I have (with lids) that I can put on each porch to make it nice and convenient.

In other news, I've been working on a project at my job that I wanted to write about. The company that I work for wants to raise prices at the end of the year. I'll be honest with you, when I heard that, my heart just sank. We just raised prices last year and believe me, I heard lots (and lots) of complaints then. To make matters worse, the way we did the price increase last time meant that not all of the customers felt it at the same time. Some got it in January, some in February and some as late as March. My boss originally wanted to announce the increase in October, which would have meant for some folks it would have felt like just 8 months between hikes. (We talked him out of that.)

So, here is my ethical dilemma: I think raising prices is a bad idea. The economy has hurt everyone and this is the wrong time to try to get blood out of stones. I also think it will make my company look like a bunch of big, fat, greedy jerks. (To put it nicely.) However, what I think doesn't really amount to a hill o' beans. Why?

Well, I sat down with my boss and expressed my concerns. He listened carefully then laid out the facts -

From the company's point of view: We have to raise prices. If we don't grow, we die. Other aspects of our business are really hurting and if we can't help make that up, layoffs are possible. In addition, our products are a great value and under priced.

So, here's what it comes down to:

  • I think raising prices is a bad idea.
  • It is going to happen anyway.
What are my choices here? Back when I was young, impetuous and more hot-headed than I am today, I walked out on not one but two different jobs when I felt my ethics were different than the company spiel. However, that was back in a different economy when I wasn't struggling. Plus, unlike those times, I like my current job. I don't want to quit in a blazing blue ball of fury like I did in the old days (with no parachute, might I add.) So, I have to find a different solution.

What I need to do is find a way that I can live with it, so that I can accept the decision and more, support it. Fortunately, there is one important fact that will help me do that: "our products are a great value and under priced." That is a true statement. We have great products - phenomenal, really, and they are under priced compared to the competition. In fact, my problem with the price increases isn't the new price - but the timing of the hike. I just wish we had more time, could let the economy recover a bit or at the very least, put a little more time between the last increase and this one. It isn't going to happen though. My boss laid it on the line - Jan. 1, prices go up.

So, if I can't change that there is going to be a price increase, and I can't change when it is going to happen - what can I change? Well, what I can change is how our customers perceive our products. I can go through and add value to our products and what's more, I can work on doing a better job of explaining the benefits of the products we already have. To that end, I have been spending the last few weeks creating big wall sized charts, making graphs, and spending a whole lot of time in the tech. department. I made a big list that says AVEB on the top for Adding Value, Explaining Benefits. My mission for the next two months is to do everything in my power to show our customers that even though prices are going up, they are still getting a huge bang for their buck.

Do you know what? Suddenly I went from feeling disgruntled and frustrated to feeling excited and challenged. I've been really enjoying this process and it has made me more fired up about my job than I have been in a long time.

Which brings me back to my own financial situation. When I first realized that I would have to come up with another $900 each month because of my divorce, I was pretty frustrated and scared. However, once I took it on as a challenge and figured out a way I could control and influence the situation, it became empowering. Even though some months are a struggle, I still feel in control of my situation, in other words, I feel like I am controlling my life - rather than it controlling me. I feel strong and resilient.

These two major challenges in my life have taught me a lot. They've taught me how to take charge and trust in myself. They have also taught me that the road less traveled just might make the more interesting journey.

Photo by: Desert Dream Photography


Anonymous said...

I don't know what your company sells, but I don't know that I'd call raising prices unethical when your company's costs are going up, too. I agree that it's a bad time to do it, but no one knows when the economy is going to go back up. If your boss was raising prices simply to give himself a huge Christmas bonus, I'd have to agree that that would be unethical!

I'm glad that you were able to find something positive to focus on that has you pumped up about your job. And I admire you for leaving jobs because of your own code of ethics...that's very cool and brave.

Lise said...

I understand where you're coming from as far as conflicting with company ethics. I work for an educational marketing firm, and somehow I wonder if we're keeping an archaic, administrator-focused (to the detriment of students) pricing system alive.

I just try to be ethical in all my dealings with clients and cut through the marketing-speak my bosses spew. That's all I can until I've finalized my "exit plan" from this job.

Dawn said...

Living P2P - You are correct, technically it isn't unethical, but it does make me uncomfortable. I know that prices have to go up occasionally, but too often makes me uncomfortable.

Thanks for the compliments! I don't see me leaving my job for a long time, hopefully this is just one of those things that passes.

Lise - Sounds like you are on the right track! Do the best you can for yourself and work on the next step. That is certainly something I should be thinking of. While I don't want to leave this job, stranger things have happened (including layoffs) having an exit strategy is never a bad idea.