Hook Line and Stinker

16 Mar 2011 | written by dprice for the Small Business Tips section(s)

Hook Line and Stinker

Personally I enjoy fishing. There are many things I find enjoyable about the serenity of being outdoors, the sound of quiet flowing water and the occasional riverbank conversation. What I do not care for, and would guess this goes for most people, is getting fished… hook, line and stinker. I am talking about “DEALS, DEALS, DEALS!!!” the golden ticket promotion that we cannot pass up. The combo deal or limited, one time offers that we would actually lose money from if we said no. After it’s all said and done you only saved a fraction of the promised offer, service was terrible and you are made to feel like you owe someone something because you got a “better price” than family. My biggest frustration does not come with my lack of self control, though it probably should, it is after the fact I realize I have been swindled, wham-boozled, taken for a ride, led astray…you name it.

Make it a real deal

Local business deals are the way to go, don’t get me wrong. Support the local economy, strengthen your community, and create friendships and business networks. But in my mind, deals are suppose to be just that… not just to get you in the door with shock and awe eye candy savings but provide you with a benefit, some sort of reason to choose that business over their competitors. For all of those Groupon, Facebook fan page, text “Deal-O-Thon” to 55555 or other quick fix marketing efforts promising to save you an arm and a leg, remember a few things.

Read the fine print.

Yes, this is elementary and I know everyone presses the “Yes, I read the terms and conditions” button without even attempting to review, but it can save you time and money by identifying lame deals.

Ask the business.

If you are unsure about the savings or the fine print was approaching Twilight status (too long and boring…maybe I read the first book) call the business directly and get the low down. Ask for specific details or exclusions and always get a name, then follow up and reference when using the promo. “I was assured by so & so that…” always goes further than, “Someone told me I could…”

Feedback, feedback, feedback.

Don’t be shy, share your experience. Social media is such a great tool for spreading the word about pretty much everything, make it a point to share and compare. Instead of just sharing frustrations with friends and digital connections, make sure the business knows as well. You shouldn’t expect change if what you want to change goes unknown. Good promotions as well, let them know what worked and why more deals would be worth your while.

Vote with your wallet.

This can be the most influential tool when dealing with lame deal offering establishments. You have taken the chance on spending $30 to save 50% which ended up being 20% after the minimum purchase, Tuesday-Thursday after 6:45 pm only, not to be combined with any other promotions, at manager’s discretion, red tape and bend over backwards restrictions. Business is business; you understand the rules but after your feedback about the false or over-stated claims was blown off to put it lightly, spend your time, money and patience elsewhere. Maybe the cost is a little higher at their competitors or the closest location is a little out of your way, but try it out and remind businesses that your patronage needs to be earned and respected. Give some insight about your frustrations with the new business and hopefully they will do what they can to avoid making the same mistakes.

To bring it back to my theme of fishing, try to look at it from this perspective. Catch and eat or catch and release? Do you want to support businesses going for the one time catch with a “just get ‘em in the door” mentality or would you prefer to frequent establishments that care long term and want you as a return customer? I choose catch and release.

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