Ignorance is free

Home Columns Ignorance is free

by Kelly Kramer

(Second of two parts)

In flooring, and many other industries for that matter, “free” is the code word for ignorant buyers—ignorance that’s played upon by deceptive sellers. Just a reminder: Ignorance means “a lack of knowledge.”

We’re all ignorant to a wealth of topics; take the word for what it is when dealing with your prospective buyers. Every consumer feels it’s his or her duty to get the best buy they can. It’s human nature.

Just the other day, my wife showed me an ad for a buy-one get-one free trip. I told her I did not even want to look at the deal. Then I asked if she stopped reading my columns because I often explain free is always a trick that leads to paying full or higher prices. She said, “No, this really looks like a great deal.”

So I read the ad. In the fine print it showed a laundry list of costs not included in the ploy. Doing some quick math I proved the trick to cost even more than the fair prices we had already looked at for this type of trip. The free offer was a low-end trip we would have regretted.

Change in tactics

In the past year an old-time, major retailer who is not in flooring tried a new concept. It decided to stop advertising weekly low-price specials on junk. Instead, it advertised daily low prices so you could buy any product in the store anytime you wanted. You could get items from low-end to high-end every day at a fair, low price.

When I saw this I said, “It won’t work,” and within three months I was proven right. The company fired the CEO who came up with the idea and went back to leader item junk to improve volume. What it didn’t understand is the vast majority—I’m guessing 75%—of consumers believe free or even 70% off is real because people actually think store owners mark things up over 100%.

I’m not sure about your store but mine has never done that sort of thing. Plus, we don’t play on people’s ignorance. In my mind that’s ruthless; it’s a method of selling that says, “Stick it to them because they would stick it to us,” or “If they are greedy enough to think they are taking advantage of us, we feel good about taking advantage of them.”

The worst part about deceptive selling is it works. When a reputable, ethical dealer sees the results of these tactics, that person is almost always tempted to do the same. Why not? That’s just the way it’s done, right?

Not easy

It’s not easy to “Sell Clean,” but in the end it’s what drives a long-term repeat and referral business. Having a long-term clean business is why you can spend much less on advertising while your “prey on the ignorant” competitors have to advertise every week. They have to “turn ’em and burn ’em” or “write ’em and fight ’em” as we used to say in the car sales business.

If you want to stay clean and ethical, you simply need to make your buyers less ignorant. You have to be able to educate them first. Learn your products well and help your customers make a wise purchases for their given situations. It’s not easy, but good things never are.

Now my plug, ignorance is free but my educational manuals are not. You’ll get more knowledge from my two books than any flooring training manual ever written. I promise that.

Thanks for reading.

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