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More Expensive To Own Than To Buy

March 24, 2014

Kevin, my truck is starting to burn oil.

How bad?

Probably about a quart every couple of tankfuls.

You’ve got what, 150,000 miles? Well, if it gets worse bring it in and for $1500 we can drop a new engine into it.

Wait, when my old Honda Civic started burning oil, you said to run it until it dies and then junk it. I bought the Civic new. The truck was used and cost me $1000.

Yeah. . .but, it’s a truck!

Last week I talked about my old truck (The Truck Was Mostly Green.) I put a lot of money into that truck, certainly many times what it initially cost to buy it. And here was my mechanic, whom I trusted telling me it was a good idea to buy a new engine that cost more than the entire truck.

In some ways our employees are like my old truck. Occasionally, you have to incent people to come to work for you, but unless you are a professional sports team, or poaching high level executives, you probably are not paying huge amounts to get a new employee. Sure, we all know how expensive it can be to get the right employee, but there are still often multiple applicants for each position.

Often a challenge is that employees do not have the skills we need. I once had both my SharePoint engineers leave for more money. I knew that I couldn’t afford to replace their skill level. SharePoint expertise was just too expensive. So, I found the most competent engineer in our org and I reassigned him to SharePoint.

However, that engineer didn’t know anything about SharePoint. We sent him to classes. We sent him to trainings. We spent tens of thousands of dollars to train him on SharePoint. And it was worth every penny.

It’s the same principle my mechanic was using. My Dad always said that the cheapest car to own is the one you already have. In the case of a truck, or an engineer, that is very true.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children.

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