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Bait and Switch in Our Own Backyards

Lynne and I were out to dinner last evening with a coupon for a local seafood restaurant.  The coupon offer was to purchase two drinks with two dinners.   Purchasing the drinks and dinners allowed you to receive up to $25 off on the second dinner.  We asked our waiter, “Does this include the early bird specials?”  His answer was, “yes.”  At the next table to us was an older couple (maybe in their late 70’s), with the same coupon.  When it came time to pay the check for the early bird specials, the discount was denied to the old couple.  Their waitress told them that the discount was only good on the regular meals, and that the early bird specials were already discounted.

My gut told me to say something.  My head told me that I would end up with a waiter and waitress fighting and something worse for the old couple.  The old couple ended up paying the full price for their dinners.

The next day I received an email from my friend Steve. (I will use a pseudonym for Steve and Nancy.) “Recently Nancy and I decided it was time to “go green”.  I’ve been getting quotes from several companies including a national brand (that will remain nameless,) a frequent radio advertiser.  (I have also seen their advertisements on television.)    As you can see from their website and hear on their ads, they’re offering incentive gifts just for getting the quote.  I found this out after the fact as it was not mentioned by my sales person, nor had I looked them up online until after the initial quote experience.”

“As it turns out, their ‘certain restrictions’ include having a minimum credit score and a utility bill of $200 or more.  I qualified on both accounts.  After reading about the incentives, I contacted my sales person and was told I would get one of the gifts after I signed a contract.  So much for the free gifts with the ‘no obligation quote.’  I have since contacted the company but so far I’ve not received an answer.  And to further solidify my good intent, I signed a contract with a different company which offered no incentives.  Their presentations/demonstrations were also dramatically different, which also weighed heavily on my decision.”

A few days later I received another email from Steve telling me that they did honor their commitment for the free gift.  By this time the damage was already done.  Steve had shared the information with many of his friends.  My guess is that he will continue to share his experience.  I would also guess that the old couple will find other coupons to use for their evening meals at different establishments.  They most probably will tell all their friends of their experience at the local seafood restaurant.

Bait and switch is one of the oldest ploys in the book.  It has been said that when a customer receives good service s/he will tell on average one person.  When it comes to poor service, the average number of people told is eleven.

What makes this even worse is that companies pay large amounts to create these marketing pieces to get people to their front doors.  After the people enter, the owners in effect,  slam the door in the customer’s face.  Taking this to the next level, my suspicion is that the owner is unaware that this ever happens.

It could be that the sales man selling the green product received additional incentives when he sold the product without the free gifts.  Possibly he was told not to offer the free gifts if the prospective client came to him by some way other than radio or television advertising.  The waiter and waitress could have both interpreted the coupon differently basing their interpretation on what they understood from their manager.

Sadly this happens too frequently to good local business owners.  The lessons I learned from this are:

  • that as a business owner my message needs to be clearly delivered
  • my representatives need to offer our products and services with my clear message
  • messaging is important when I invest my time, energy, creativity, and money

Training our employees to deliver our messages is paramount when measuring our return on investment.  So important is training that, without training first, measuring results is a waste of time.

What are you doing to be sure that you are not being accused of “bait and switch?”  Clearly delivered messages can be the key to greater success and financial return on your marketing investment.

 

Gerry Rose runs INTEGRITY Networking Solutions in Oceanside, CA.  He works with people in business who want to attract the right prospects and generate more referrals.  More than 10,000 businesses have been presented the INTEGRITY Networking Solutions system in San Diego, Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange Counties.

Gerry’s stimulating presentation Unlimited Prospects, Unlimited Referrals is ideally suited for small business owners, home-based businesses, and independent professionals who want clearer direction and want to attract more prospects, develop dynamic systems, and strengthen their companies’ accountability.  Gerry does one on one consulting, conducts a range of keynote speeches from thirty minutes to full-day education workshops.  His book series, Unlimited Prospects, Unlimited Referrals, are available on the website, www.integritysd.com.

Gerry has more than 20 years’ experience directing business owners how to grow their businesses.  He is a networking dynamo.  Those who know him will assure you that he does a great job of bringing people together—which is why he started INTEGRITY.

Involved with networking organizations since 1984, Gerry is a Distinguished Toastmaster, a member of Toastmaster International, and has chaired numerous chambers of commerce and non-profit organizations.

Are you truly committed to attracting the right prospects and generate more referrals?  If so then contact INTEGRITY Networking Solutions for availability and information.  You can contact Gerry by mail at 1610 Quiet Hills Drive, Oceanside, CA 92056.  Direct dial (760) 439-4623; e-mail to gerry@integritysd.com.  For more information, go to www.integritysd.com

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