A few years back I was offered free tickets to a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game as part of a large group, and my friend Tony asked if I was planning on going. My response, “Hmm, I don’t think so” surprised him a bit. As a life-long St. Louisan and avid Cards fan, historically I took advantage of any opportunity to go to a game, especially if it was free. But things had changed a bit. Over the previous few years, I had become accustomed to sitting in good seats, typically all-inclusive seats (they run insane specials if you sign up for their emails) and these were neither. They were in section 400 something in the middle of nosebleed nowhere deep center field.

When Tony asked why I wasn’t going I said, “I have a really nice tv at home, air conditioning and beer I’ve already paid for, plus the free seats are terrible.” He looked at me, chuckled, then said the words I’ll never forget, “So what you’re saying is, they’re not free enough?”, I responded with “Yep, exactly!”. We both laughed a bit, and I’m certain he harassed me about it as we moved on with our evening.

But that conversation got me thinking: He was right, they weren’t free enough. They weren’t free enough because I had experienced better. They weren’t free enough because there were viable alternatives. They weren’t free enough because I was at a point in my life where I could afford better. And they weren’t free enough because I wasn’t willing to settle for a subpar experience that would ultimately cost me a fair amount of money anyway, with nothing worth it in return.

Haven’t we been told by many a marketing company that free is always better?

However, that’s not always the case and is usually tainted by some other requirement we may or may not want. Free weekend trip? Sure, just sit through this high pressure, 3hr timeshare sales pitch- the first day. Not free enough. Ever have a friend that’s willing to help you move, but doesn’t do much, gets in the way and eats the pizza at the end anyway? Not free enough. Or you sign up for a contest to win something and get spammed by a dozen companies for the next 700yrs? Not free enough.

It’s no different for a business that requires technology (so, every business in existence). What seems like a great opportunity might be costing you more than you know- both in the short and long-term. I know, I know, “It’s included in the price, and I can’t possibly add another cost, and really Jason, it’s good enough.” And there you have it- good enough. How often do we sell ourselves, our family, our friends, our customers short because we settle for good enough? And what are we losing?

As a buyer, would you want to work with a real estate agent that markets themselves as “good enough”? As a real estate agent would you want to work with a lender that is just “good enough”?

Far too often we forget the most essential part of free- What is it costing us in return? Is it “good enough?” And do you want “good enough?” For me and the Cards game it would have been sweating like crazy, not being able to see anything and having to buy $12 beers. My experience would have been terrible and in the end, would still have cost me money. It would not have been good enough.

As a leader, mentor, decision maker, would you recommend a company or service that is just “good enough” and expect to succeed or surpass your competitors? Forget “good enough” and give everyone who matters what they deserve to experience.

So yeah, good enough-isn’t free enough. Tony was right. Until next time.