Last week a message landed in my inbox. Actually, it was a message sent to our school’s ‘info’ address, which had been forwarded to me.
The message was: “To be delivered to Mr. Mehmet. Hello Mr. Mehmet, I work at … sorry to disturb you, but my son is a huge fan of yours and he is dying to meet you. If you’ll let him, he would like to meet and speak with you one day.” There are those who reach out themselves but I guess the mother’s help was required in this case.
I am used to young people wanting to talk to me, as I am often invited to speak at schools and other organizations where I tell them “You can do it, don’t be afraid.” So much so that, writing this feels somewhat absurd now.
And in fact, I really enjoy these meetings because I get the opportunity to push them a little bit more (his excitement was obvious from the way he sought to reach out to me).
I immediately responded to the lady on the address in her message, essentially saying, “Of course, it would be a pleasure.”
I subsequently received a message, in which she thanked me and said that she had not expected me to respond, to which I wrote back, saying, “Let’s touch base next week to set a time, and I will meet your son with pleasure.”
It was only 9 o’clock on Monday, and beep, good morning; we texted a couple of times and agreed to meet in the afternoon.
I have to admit that I appreciate such insistence even more; that’s exactly what I would have done. Try and stop me when I get myself hung up on something…
This is how I see it: make your mother write a message, follow up, and once you get a response (kindly) push further. On the first day of the week, call up at the break of dawn, get yourself an appointment, be firm, and meet that day.
Excellent. Just the kind of monster I have been keeping inside me for years.
The boy must be super ambitious, with a solid goal, and an unruly passion.
And I must admit that I love it. I try to help such people as much as I can with my mind and knowledge.
There are those who say they want to become chefs, those who memorize the website inside and out, and that want to learn more, and those that want to become pastry chefs or just want to freshen up their knowledge… And there are those who want to study bartending but are still not sure how to go about it and those that are dying to become baristas but don’t have the budget.
Or there are those who are looking for a ‘brother’ to talk to about a completely different, irrelevant subject, or to discuss a venture, an investment opportunity or their ideas in general.
There are many passionate people who have listened to my talks, read my articles or followed the story of MSA and have been impressed enough to chase their own success stories.
What is in this passion?
There is an idea, an enthusiasm, a certain stubbornness, and so on.
Look, my goal is not to look down on anyone.
My guests arrived at 3 in the afternoon. I welcomed them, and asked them what I could offer them, and after all the welcome formalities were over, I turned towards my young friend (I am simply relaying our exact conversation, no additions and no omissions).
– What can I do for you?
– A discount.
– What discount?
– A discount on the courses.
– Which courses?
– I don’t know, whichever.
– Which course were you interested in, which one did you look into?
– I heard that you admired me, what did you like about me and why are you here?
A face with no expression, he has no idea what’s going on. The mother, on the other hand, has an expression as if to say, how did we get here.
With your permission, I will spare the rest of our conversation till the end of my article.
There are many issues involved here including disrespect and aimlessness (obviously the goal was to get discounts, but if only the aim was to get a vocational education that he was passionate about), but I would like to focus on one in particular.
Perhaps ‘discount’ is one of my least favorite words in life.
Discounts that are offered indiscriminately and for no reason.
This word has annoyed me since I was a child.
It creates a feeling of distrust and disbelief in the maker and the product or the service.
You have a product, and it has a cost to you. If you are an honest person or company and you are selling your product with a reasonable profit on top of its cost, and the product is not seasonal either…
I sometimes see a 50 percent discount. How do you get 50 percent off that? Either you were trying to screw me before, or you were selling me an imperfect item.
I lose interest in both the product and the seller.
Years ago when I first established MSA “discount” was one of the two or three words that I specifically banned from being uttered.
I had said, “I do not have a product I can offer discounts on; my cost is fixed, my sponsors are fixed, my rate of profit is reasonable, and this is my price. Love it or leave it. Same for you, same for hundreds of others… My price is always the same.”
Discounts were out of the question.
Now the issue is this:
Let’s say the promised service is a “kitchen workshop.”
The purchase cost of the products and materials to be used is fixed, and the ratio of overhead expenses per participant is also fixed. The rate to be taxed after service is also fixed. What is to be done? A reasonable profit is added on it and the service is offered for sale, right?
But when you say ‘40 percent discount’, ‘Buy one and get one free’ or ‘Discounts up to 70 percent’, you are left with bad mathematics and zero reliability.
To be honest, the only things such discounts make me think of are how much I was being overcharged at first or how greedy the seller probably was.
In short, I do not like discounts and I think that the value of a product purchased with a discount has already decreased for the buyer at the time of their purchase.
No brand known asa ‘Lovemark’ will pursue customers with discounts. In fact it is quite the opposite; we always see that these brands offer such added value that we had never expected or even known that we needed.
Another important aspect of this discount issue is loyalty.
It is impossible to generate customer loyalty through discounts (perhaps it’s the subconscious manifestation of my direct emotion to discounts).
With a discount, you win a customer— for the moment. You, then lose that same person to another brand or point of sale that offers even more discounts.
And what ensues is a never-ending sequence of discount wars, a crumbling brand image and a vicious circle.
Of course, I’m not talking about the seasonal discounts (I’m not sure they are still a thing) or the closing down sales.
Another type of discount that I am referring to is the volatile, go where the wind blows type of discount that usually goes along with an arbitrary “We’ll take care of it”. And sometimes that demand for a discount directly related to one’s sense of entitlement.
Or the discount for a credit card payment, discount for a so-and-so group, discount for a promotion and so on.
And sometimes a discount even when you don’t want one.
That lack of consideration for the needs and expectations of the person in front of you, and perhaps the laziness that leads to putting everyone in the same pan and saying, ‘Buy my product with a discount, but don’t expect anything else from me.’
The effort to tempt the consumer with the promise of a discount for products that are all identical.
There are so many aspects of this issue that I could write a short book let alone an article. Yet, I don’t want to labor the point too much.
As for the flip side, well, let’s not go there.
The atrocities imposed by intermediaries on the manufacturers or suppliers at the purchase stage. No payments for months, and virtually zeroing the profit margins. Leaving them no elbowroom, and then advertising this to the customer as if it was their own great discount. It breaks my heart.
Actually, I was just waiting for an opportune week to write about discounts in depth, but when I just had this encounter that started of with an “I want a discount”, I couldn’t not write about it.
And the conversation with the mother and son…