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The Carpenter’s Invoice

a parable about pricing


Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1975: A man owned a house with a squeaky dining room floor. He paced that floor listening intently for the location of the squeak.


Each time he thought he found it, he would pull up the carpet and drive a nail into the floorboards. Each time, the squeak eluded him.


Eventually, he called in a carpenter.


The carpenter paced the floor, pulled up the carpet, and drove a single nail into the floor. The squeak disappeared.


The carpenter billed the man $50. The invoice said, “Driving one nail: $3. Knowing where to drive the nail: $47.”


Having experienced how the problem had already caused him more than $50 worth of trouble, the man happily paid right away.



The carpenter's invoice hit the nail on the head. Anybody can drive a nail. The value lies in knowing where to drive the nail. Thus, the carpenter's expertise solved the problem and was the source of value. It had nothing to do with the amount of time taken, except that there was additional value in the problem being solved quickly.


- Glenn R Harrington, Articulate Consultants Inc.


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