Truth or Just Good Marketing

High quality products and craftsmanship, custom design services, have you heard these words before? Perhaps in numerous trade publication ads and websites in the animal care equipment industry? If all these claims are equally true, then how can you as the consumer, make a decision? I guess it all comes down to price. I mean if everyone offers top quality, innovative free design services then it’s safe to go with the cheapest manufacturer, right?

We have all heard the phrase, and likely experienced it as well, “you get what you pay for”. In other words, you only have yourself to blame when your cheap purchase breaks or fails to perform as promised. At the risk of losing a popularity contest, allow me to pull back the curtain and expose the “Wizard” (of Oz). The problem is the word “quality” is subjective and truthfully all manufacturers, the big guys anyway, have to work with you on your floor plan to understand what you need them to build for you, hence the “free design services”. The bottom line is quality, like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, unlike quality materials, that’s an absolute. When you’re looking at several manufacturers, let’s say for stainless steel kennels. The heavier the gauge, the more durable the kennel, keeping in mind that the lower the number the heavier the gauge, i.e. 18gauge is heavier than 20 gauge. Or if you’re shopping for a stainless steel bathing tub for grooming, gauge is important again, but even more important is the construction of the tub. Is it fully welded or silicone and pop-riveted? Does it arrive fully assembled or do you have to assemble it? I will never forget being at a grooming tradeshow and hearing a first- hand account from a guy who was so angry that he got “my bathing tub”, assembled it and the first dog he groomed, a German Sheppard, got rowdy and the tub fell apart, sending water all over his new salon. Once he explained what happened, I had to explain to him that we don’t make a tub that arrives in a flat box and you silicone and pop rivet it together. He apologized and went on his way and apparently found the vendor who’d sold him the tub a few booths down and began the tirade all over again. With any large purchase, whether it’s a car, a piece of furniture or a new bathing tub it’s a good idea to have a list of questions to ask the manufacturer. These are great questions to ask when purchasing anything from a grooming table to a kennel run or stainless cages and bathing tubs:

  1. How thick is the material, what is the gauge?
  2. How is it constructed?
  3. Does it ship fully assembled or is there assembly required? If assembly required do you have detailed assembly instructions?
  4. What is the warranty period and what is covered in your warranty?

Another suggestion if you’re in the market to make a large purchase of kennels, cages, bathing tubs, etc. , find a tradeshow, even if you have to book a flight. Pictures can be deceiving and all advertisers put their best foot forward, but you can’t afford not to look at their products up close, first hand and quiz the representatives in the booth. Most times you can look at equipment and say “wow, this is what I want” or “whoa, glad I didn’t buy this one based off of the photograph.”

Remember, The Wizard of Oz marketed himself as a fearful, ominous, magical wizard, but it turned out he was just some guy using a lot of elaborate magic tricks and props to make himself seem great and powerful.

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