Making Comparisons Before You Buy
Eight tips your church can use when making purchases.

As a consumer in the marketplace, a local church faces the inevitability of making purchasing choices. Ford or Chevy? Plain or peanut? A lot or a little?

Wise choices are made from informed methods of comparison shopping. Executive pastors and church administrators identified these key principles to help your church make the right decision every time.

Conduct online research. The internet makes comparison shopping far easier today than in previous years. Search engines are helpful, along with organizational websites, such as the National Association of Church Business Administration's Ultimate Guide to Church Suppliers.

Network. Call and email people in other churches who have responsibility for making buying decisions, especially if these churches are similar in size. Ask which products and services they use and probe for their levels of satisfaction.

Ask for samples. Try before you buy. Ask the vendor to deliver a sample for the opportunity to test the item in your church. For some items, such as chairs, ask for one chair each from three or more companies and then compare them.

Identify the "hidden" costs. The list price to purchase or lease a piece of equipment is not the only cost to consider. Go deeper and identify the total operating cost. Calculate the costs of service contracts, warranties, and insurance into your bottom-line figure.

Don't be dazzled by the brand. Find an off-brand that can perform the same functions at the same level of quality as the big-name brand.

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September 9, 2009
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