September 9, 2019

Won't You Please, Please YELP Me?

Bad service.   

Everybody has experienced bad service at some point in their personal or professional life.

I recently had dinner at a popular Cape Cod restaurant with a large group (13).  Keeping tabs on thirteen people is not an easy task, especially in the middle of summer and when you have other tables to  attend to.  There are certain core responsibilities/skills that great waitstaff have to have in order to do their jobs, not the least of which is attention to detail.   Good waiters don't 'wait' for your water or cocktail to go empty, they are pro-active.   

This does two things...first, it makes the customer feel as though their needs are foremost in the staffs mind and it also builds a relationship and buys a measure of compassion should something go awry.   Like spilling hot clam chowder (true story) on the bare leg of the customer...   In such a catastrophic moment, everybody notices that faux pas and observes how the staff and management handle it...or (in this case) don't.   

Long story short, everything went down hill from there.  And, to exacerbate things, this was not the first time I experienced poor service at this place.   I was willing to give them another chance but now, they have lost my business.

Fortunately, diners can go to a service like YELP and log their experiences...which I did.  I am now a pro-active diner and use YELP before I go to a new restaurant.   It got me thinking though, why isn't there a similar service for business to business (B2B) service organizations?  At TheLabSquad we have wall filled with client testimonials regarding their great service experiences.   On the rare occasion that someone does not have a 'letter worthy' service issue, we communicate with them directly and do our best to understand their concerns. 

Attention to detail.  It matters no matter what or who you service.

March 7, 2019

Caveat Emptor              (aka - A Blog For Chuck)

A Call To Auction

Had a nice visit with Chuck yesterday.   We talked a bit about buying liquid handlers via auction sites.   


The parent company of The LabSquad (Biodirect, Inc) is the industry leader in providing refurbished liquid handling robots (Agilent, Beckman, Hamilton, Tecan, PE) and they frequently acquire units from various auction houses.   Auction houses are typically hired by clients who are closing down a facility or a functional group and are tasked with disposing all of their assets (instruments, lab benches, hoods, consumables..etc).   The prices are generally low but buyers are not able to physically inspect the equipment and might not have a complete understanding of functionality or completeness.   For experienced professionals, like Biodirect, the risks from these purchases are minimal.  Biodirect acquires instruments that they are intimately familiar with and even if the unit arrives in less than pristine condition, there is little they cannot do in order to bring it back to the manufacturers specs.  

I have also spoken with a number of end-users who also purchase directly from auction sites for a variety of reasons, but mostly because they have limited funds and they need to stretch their budget a far as possible.   Sometimes they get lucky and the unit they receive can be brought up and running with relative ease.  Other times, not so much.   That's the rub, imagine buying a house or car from a website with not much more than some photos to go by.  Unless you are an experienced fixer uppper, you might have to get out the checkbook. I have fielded a number of phone calls where users contacted The LabSquad for a "PM" on a robot that they will soon be receiving.  A PM can be an economical way to survey a newly acquired auction unit but, as is often the case, it leads to a need for additional spending to make the unit functional.   The single biggest thing we encounter is a missiing PC or hardware key.  The LabSquad does not (cannot) re-sell the manufacturer's software.  Clients are told that they will need to get that from the manufacturer...if they will sell it to them.   A handful or manufactures will refuse to sell software for a unit they do not directly provide.  In many cases,  No Software = Boat Anchor. Others may sell it, but at very steep prices.   Once, and if the software issue is resolved, the PM process may lead to other smaller repairs such as leaking valves or bad diluters.  Other times, multichannel head rebuilds or motor replacements can require still more invenstment.     

Bottom Line - Buying from auction sites can get you a good instrument for a fraction of what you might pay from a company like Biodirect.  However (you just knew there was a caveat coming ...re-read the title) buyers would be wise to consider the additional costs that are likely to occur post-delivery.   I know from first hand observation the investment in parts, labor, packaging and warranty that Biodirect makes in order to ensure it's clients receive units that are "research ready", just as you would expect when buying new.   For those that are intent on buying direct, you would be wise to enlist the assistance of a company like The LabSquad who can help with "gotchas"...  End of Commercial Pitch.     I bid you ...'good buy.'