Happy Tuesday #Jontourage,
Welcome back to the “Classy Gent Chronicles”, where staying classy is the only way to be. Let's jump right into it....
The past few months have been filled with some interesting business experiences. I have had things I wanted not pan out, people steal my ideas, but this situation I am about to describe definitely takes the cake. Without getting into too much detail, I was getting ready to commit to doing business with someone and surprise surprise, I was told I had to pay a fee despite that never being discussed before. What added to my shock is the amount of phone and email correspondence that had occurred prior to a fee brought up in conversation.
To all the business owners of the world, please communicate your full price up front. If you provide a service, I am considering you a business owner. It does not matter if this business is online, store front, international, minority owned, small or a major corporation. I have had too many situations in the last six months where "secret fees" popped up. If we are discussing numbers, I plan to pay what we discussed. If you tell me $90, I expect to pay $90, not $107.83 or some other new number because of some secret fees popping up that weren't originally discussed. If your business has transaction fees, sales tax, delivery fees, etc., please notify your client in advance. I understand good marketing is to reel the customer in with what seems like a great rate but by the time all the charges are added, we aren’t even in the same price neighborhood anymore. What I and every other customer wants to know is, when it’s time to swipe my card, pay the invoice, pay in cash, or write a check, how much am I paying? As a business owner, that is the amount you should be telling me from the jump.
How would you feel if you went to the store to buy some groceries and once you get up to the counter, you are told there is now a cashier fee because you went through a cashier instead of self-checkout? You would have felt cheated for two reasons. One because you are annoyed no one informed you of this policy. Maybe you just had enough money for your item and the tax but nothing else. Secondly, you felt robbed of the ability to make that choice for yourself. If you had known, you would have just gone through self-checkout. In many of these business situations that have come up with me in the last few months, I felt robbed of my choice to decide if I wanted to move forward because the agreements were changed along the way. Of course, I always have the option to walk away but it looks bad on my part to back out of something I agreed to. However, I reserve that right once the terms and conditions get adjusted, even slightly because it becomes a whole new deal at that point.
As a business owner/author myself, when someone asks for my book “Master of Ceremonies: A Male’s Guide for a Successful Life”, I immediately tell them the cost of my book and the amount to ship it to them all in the same conversation. That's just good business. Another example, I am working with a young lady as my illustrator for my second book “Growing Gents”. We agreed to a certain amount of images for a certain price I agreed to pay her. I can’t turn around and request additional images off of the same contractual agreement just like she can’t complain about the compensation amount. In business, anything less than honesty in the negotiation comes off as fraudulent behavior. I am not here to call anyone a scammer but as a business owner, ask yourself what are the long term benefits of withholding information. You will realize there aren’t any. Being a good business owner is more than good quality products or low prices, it's establishing a trustworthy reputation between you and your client. The more you know folks...
Moral of the story: Honesty was and still is the best policy. Do not lose customers due to a bad marketing strategy. There are several branding coaches who will help you get more customers the right way.
Remember, in order to live out your dreams, you have to think it, feel it, live it! Until next time, stay classy...
Jonathan C. Harris is no stranger to leadership, hard work, or success. At the age of ten years old, he earned the right to be a guest weatherman for a day on Fox 5 DC News. He has already received over 100 honors and awards including Forty Under 40 for Prince George’s County, MD, TEDx Talk speaker, American College Personnel Association (ACPA) Outstanding Men’s Program, high school Valedictorian and the Kiwanis Club Citizenship Award. Raised in Fort Washington, Maryland, he has served in leadership positions his entire life, from being the manager of the school store in elementary school to the president of the Homelessness Awareness Club in middle school to the president of the National Honor Society in high school.