Saturday, November 7, 2009

What a Hedge Trimmer can Teach about Technology

Echo Hedge Trimmer.jpg
This is going to be one of those posts where I make an oddball point. A couple of years ago, I needed to trim several bushes in the yard. I went to the local home depot and purchased a cordless electric hedge trimmer for $80.

I had a wide choice of models, but I didn't really do much comparison shopping. I wanted a hedge trimmer, it was a name brand, and it didn't require a cord. Case closed.

However, over the time I had it, I noticed many times it would struggle to cut thicker branches and severely bog down when cutting through very thick bushes with thin branches. Occasionally it would become completely locked up on something and force me to wedge the branch back out of the blades. It would also sometimes slow down and die as I exhausted the battery, forcing me to postpone finishing the yard work. Finally a little over 2 years into ownership, the thing just died. I figured that even though I wasn't really abusing it, it just wasn't made to trim the plants I was using it on.

So today I headed back to the Home Depot. This time I decided to take a closer look at the models available and to compare them a bit. I especially compared the blades as that seemed to be the problem that I'd had with the original trimmer.

What I left with was a gas powered Echo hedge trimmer that was a significant amount more than the $80 I paid originally. I came home, fired it up, and proceeded to attack the bushes and plants that needed fall trimming and cleanup.

The result? The Echo sliced through the foliage like a Hideki Matsui home run ball slices through the New York night. In less than 30 minutes I was done with the cutting. Previously it would take between 1-2 hours. The plants seemed to endure less trauma and I wasn't struggling to complete the task.

So, what can this teach us about technology in general and dental technology in particular? It's the simple fact that cutting corners or trying to save money isn't always the most fiscally smart thing to do. By buying a $80 device that didn't hold up, I actually wasted $80 that I didn't need to. The Echo was more money, but by not purchasing it in the first place, I added $80 to its purchase price.

Also by trying to save money, I bought something that wouldn't really do what I wanted it to do. I, of course, told myself that I was "just fine" with it, but I knew I was kidding myself.

In the end I wasted my time and my money by not making the smart purchasing decision in the first place. When one considers the steep overhead of running a dental practice it's easy to see how wasting your time as well as your patient's time can be a bad business decision on multiple levels.

The moral? Buy the best and only cry once.

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