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The Old Bait and Switch or NOT!

Most of us have been confronted with the bait and switch.  You go to the car dealer who advertises a low cost deal to find that those vehicles which were advertised were all sold that morning just before you got there. Big box grocery and department stores are notorious for creating limited quantity offers such that when you arrive they are out of stock.

Lynne and I wanted a new king sized bed for our new home in Arizona.  Lynne shopped all the stores finding the best deal for what we were looking for at Mattress Firm.  At the time they were running daily deals posted on the Internet. With a store less than eight miles away, we arrived early that morning to meet John Lullo, john.lullo@mattressfirm.com, 520-579-0532, 5920 W. Arizona Pavilions Drive, Marana, AZ.

As we walked in we were greeted, yet allowed to browse by ourselves.  In a few moments John approached us asking the dreaded question, “Can I help you?”  Lynne responded with the Internet offer of the day.  John pointed us to the bed that was on sale for that day only for half price.

A little background at this point might help.  Since 1975 we have been blessed in our marriage.  We have had water beds, both bag and hard covered, everything from California King to full size standard mattresses.  The good news is we have always agreed on sleeping in the same bed comfortably.

On this particular day we both lied down on the half price bed.  I sensed that it might be a little soft for Lynne and questioned the level of comfort she would get sleeping on a mattress that was too soft.  As she reassessed the comfort John suggested trying the next firmer bed in the line up of beds Mattress Firm had to offer at full price.  We both agreed that the firmer bed would allow for a much more comfortable sleep.

Now came the big question, “How much more would we need to pay for the firmer bed?”  Again, a little background is in order.  Twice since 1975 has Lynne offered to pay full price for anything.  Once in northern New York when she fell in love with a house that she had only seen as far as the mud room.  The other time she offered to pay full price was when we picked our INTEGRITY logo (Al Delino Art Design, Encinitas, California.)  She is always looking for a bargain and that is what drew her to Mattress Firm initially.  Right out of the gate Lynne went for the jugular.  “Can we have this bed for half price?”  Well, our new friend’s eyes squeezed shut and his mouth twisted like a pretzel.  His response was, “You are killing me here,” then he followed that with, “Yes.”

It has happened in the past that we drove into a car dealership based on a similar discount one day offer to discover that the 12 cars that they had that morning had all sold at the bait price.  Yet the dealer found a way to make the deal the same or similar for the car we bought.  Here is a thought, make giving the bait deal the practice rather than the exception.  My guess is customers would be happier and more referrals would come from those transactions having customers paying full retail.  Many of you are grumbling as you read this saying, “Gerry you don’t understand.  Companies have  (fill in the blank…old stock, out dated merchandise, etc.) that has to be moved quickly to restock with the latest greatest products.”  I get it and it is all true.  Yet we have the opportunity as small businesses to have this type of flexibility.  We have the capacity to welcome people to our doors and adjust the terms of our deal to encourage more clients.

Over the last several years I have become more flexible with my terms and it has truly helped my business success.  Having a one price fits all policy limited my ability to do more with less. In the past few years I have done business with people that 20 years prior I would have said, “No,” in areas that I could then only dream of doing business.  Since becoming more flexible I do business with large manufacturing companies employing 300 people in three different plants in the US, multi-level marketing companies, and presenters who are world travelers.  Had I stayed within my original offers I never would have worked with such a diverse audience while maintaining my core business principals since starting in 2000.

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