In the Little Havana section of Miami, there is a popular shop, Azucar Ice Cream Company, where last week my family went for dessert. As we were enjoying our cones, something scrawled on a blackboard near the cash register caught my eye.
Posted next to all the flavors and other product information was a colorful chalk rendering of a man with an unequivocal message: Warning: Family & Friends: EVEN FRED PAYS!!
We asked an employee about the note. Years ago, she explained, the father of the building’s landlord would come in and expect to get free ice cream cones. His name is Fred. After a brief period of that happening, once the owner got wind of the situation, the practice was halted. To remind both employees and customers thereafter, the owner created the note for anyone else thinking they had a “right” to a discount or even a freebie.
I love the history behind that ice cream shop note—and how it touches on a recurring part of my own life and work/business history.
Whether it has been as a self-employed free agent in the movie and television industry for more than 20 years or as an Amway Independent Business Owner, I have regularly encountered attempts by people to “’chisel me down” on price.
Knowing how that feels, as well as a strong dose of life wisdom from Ron Puryear, Amway Founders Crown and World Wide DreamBuilders founder, have had a great impact on my own consumer behavior.
Don’t get me wrong: I appreciate getting a good deal as much as anyone else—but I like to discover the deal, not pull a “let’s make a deal” routine on someone by trying to negotiate on the spot.
That mindset was solidified years ago when I heard Puryear speak at a WWDB Free Enterprises Day. With conviction, he shared his practice of not haggling with salespeople over price—even in those product categories, like cars, where negotiation has become a traditional, All-American part of the transaction.
I realize that this approach goes against the grain of the (well-earned) stereotype of many wealthy people who see their stature, economically and otherwise, as a license to grind people down on price..But in contrast, as a business owner himself, Ron explained that he knows very well that the car salesperson must make a profit in order to survive as a business—and to do other important things, like feed his or her family.
His comments have had a powerful impact on me. In my own life, I just feel better paying people their rate. I find that I get a better product or service than I otherwise would because people feel valued. They don’t feel shortchanged or grow resentful. When some people try to get a reduced rate, whether it’s for my work or my husband’s professional services, it says that they don’t adequately value the service provided.
On certain TV or movie jobs, when I have been told that my rate is “too high,” it is blamed on the fact that the money is simply “not in the budget.” That’s where I get to say, “OK, then this isn’t a fit for me. Thank you, anyway.”
Same thing goes for people looking to buy Amway products from me at a discount. I understand “getting a good deal” and being incentivized to buy additional products on an order—that’s all well and good. But there are times when people want to go well beyond chipping away at profit and slice right into making any profit at all. Those are the ones who very quickly receive a polite “no” and become ex-customers, if they ever became one in the first place.
The bottom line: do you think that what you have to offer has enough value for the price you are quoting? If not, and if you find yourself consistently budging on price, then you have set your price wrong.
I am OK with people who don’t want to hire me on a movie because they choose not to pay my rate. I am OK if someone doesn’t want to buy an Amway product from me.
The world is abundant: there are hundreds of TV shows and movies out there. Likewise, I don’t need masses of Amway customers to turn a solid profit—the occasional new one, to add to my existing base, works just fine.
So don’t let the Freds of the world get to you—let them go on their ice cream-cone freeloading way, as you focus on delivering great service to those who do properly value what you have to offer.