The cost/benefit analysis of DIY or “Hold the tomatoes!”

For this post, we go back to one of my fave lunch spots, the Cafe Europa, home of the guys who say “To go” when you’ve already told them so.

This time, it’s about tomatoes.

I hate ’em . . . so I used to tell the sandwich guys to remove them from my pre-fabbed Classic Italian.

And then I’d have to deal with them lookin’ at me funny, and then watch as they pulled apart the bread, and plucked the tomatoes off themselves.

One day I realized that I was better off just doing it myself, back in the comfort of my office.  I could do it faster, and also ensure that there wasn’t even one little disgusting t-seed left to infect the rest of the sandwich.

I did it myself.

Broadway has always been a very specialized industry.  There are few providers for our specific services.  And those providers have been able to charge, well, almost anything they want.

We’re just starting to emerge from the naive, Kool-Aid-induced haze that had us believing there were only a few people who could do the jobs that we needed them to do.  We’re finding that there are vendors all over the country, and all over the world, that can accomplish similar tasks, and often at much cheaper prices.

We’re just starting to join the DIY revolution.

I’m a huge supporter of folks DIYing their way to success.  Done right, you can save money, and learn about whatever you’re DIYing in the process.  Teach a man to fish, and you’ve got an all-you-can-eat sushi bar in your backyard!

Will you sacrifice some expertise?  Could you sacrifice some time?  Could you screw up?  Yes.

So it’s up to you to calculate the risk quotient of taking on a task that you wouldn’t normally take on.

Here’s the $ equation.

X = Cost of Expert Vendor
Y = Cost New Vendor or Yourself
Z = Your potential loss if you f’ it up.

If X > (Y + Z), then you should have hired the Expert in the first place.

But, flip that alligator mouth around, and you’ve made out on this deal, and learned something to save you even more in the future.

You can’t just be a guerrilla DIY guy.  You have to consider all the options.  The experts out there are experts for a reason.  And there are times when you need them on your team.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take off your own tomatoes every once in a while.

  • Liz says:

    I think the clear takeaway from this is that you SHOULD be going down the block to get lunch at Schnippers… 😉

  • Cat Parker says:

    Can I have your tomatoes?
    Seriously, you make great points here. And the next thought that popped in my mind (after wanting your tomatoes, as I adore them) was – mutual backscratch DIY = you remove your own tomatoes, and give them to me. I remove my own lettuce (stupid filler food) and give it to you (assuming you like lettuce). Not only are we saving time, money and effort doing our own thing, but we’re helping each other, while reducing the amount of waste (just thinking of all those poor tomatoes wasting away in your garbage can.) Win-Win!

  • Brilliant response, Cat. Now if only people would be willing to take the time to discover how they can help each other as opposed to simply helping themselves!
    – Timothy Childs

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