Monday, October 1, 2007

Blasting away the FUDD

Ever heard of FUDD?

No it’s not a person. And no, it’s not a bad word.

No, FUDD stands for "Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt and Disinformation." Okay, so maybe that does make it a bad word, in the business sense. But the biggest problem with FUDD is that it’s just like old war propaganda – it's meant to distract, confuse, and mislead.

So why the lesson on silly little business acronyms? Well, because they're not really all that silly (or little) after all. And the acronym of FUDD is alive and thriving in the dry ice blasting industry today.

Seen one, seen them all

Look around at most dry ice blasting equipment manufacturers, or better yet – see several of them in person – and they'll all tell you the same thing: "There’s no real difference in machines. It’s all hype – dry ice blasting is dry ice blasting. So don’t waste your money elsewhere, just buy *my* machine."

In fact (they'll tell you), not only are there no real differences in machines, there's no real difference in companies. One manufacturer is just the same as another.

But like any good con artist (or Minister of FUDD), while these messages may be presented in a compelling way, it's all a misleading bunch of twisted hooey (yes, that's the technical term).

How can I be so sure? How can you trust me to be the one telling the truth? That’s a good (and appropriate) question. And the answer is very simple – I'm not asking you to take my word for it. No, instead what I'm asking you to do is a simple but often overlooked task: Ask questions – and realize that the mere fact that there are questions means that the purveyors of FUDD are not giving you the full story.

Questions, questions, questions

So just as an example let's look at a few simple yet important questions: Why are there two hose and single hose systems? Why are there electric and pneumatic systems? Why are there pellet and block systems? What's the maximum length of blast hose that can used with a system? What's the maximum blast time that can be achieved with a system? Can I blast constantly without attending to the ice in the machine? Can I keep my ice in the machine unclogged from my blasting location? What's the rate of sublimation of a given system over an hour of blasting time? Is the ice usage and aggression variable? What size (and quality) is the motor? How hard is it to replace parts? Have you tested your machines against any competitor’s machines (and if so, can I see the results of your testing)?

Starting to get the idea? Just the fact that you even need to ask those questions should tell you that all machines are definitely NOT the same. And while the machine itself will be the major part of your initial line of questioning, you should also ask similar questions about the machine's manufacturer.

For example: How long have you been in business? Where are your offices located? Do you have a global service and support network? How many professional contractors use your equipment? How big is your installation base? Do you have *real* 24/7 phone support, or is it just an answering service that takes messages after hours? How many models of machines do you manufacturer? What do your customers say about you – and can I talk to any?

Wow – that’s a lot of questions!

Do the Due (diligence)

Yes, those are a lot of questions. But you’re not making an informed and responsible decision if you don't ask them – every one of them.

There are a lot of small companies out there who just want to make a quick sale of mediocre equipment - and they'll fill your head with FUDD to do it. The company that openly, and happily, answers all of your questions and is a well established global supplier is the company that makes and supports the equipment you want to use.

It's not hard to find the right dry ice blasting machine or the right company – but you do have to take the time to ask the good hard questions – and demand direct and complete answers.

If you do, you'll blast away the FUDD - and find the answers (and the value) you're truly looking for.

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