Thursday, July 4, 2013

What will you ask for?

At a sales training session last week, I related an object lesson I'd taught my daughter the week prior.  If you're Todd the Pastor Blogger, you may want to tune out about now.

It seems that a week earlier than that, I'd stopped by the local Kohl's after Saturday evening church to update my work wardrobe.  I was specifically looking for some putty-colored (oyster - for my fashionistas, Advocate readers, and Dew) easy care slacks.  Finding none my size in that color, I did happen across some dark tan (taupe, if you're keeping score) microfiber plain front slacks, on sale for $21.99.  Reasoning that a similar pair I already had were showing their age, and too tired/lazy to use the fitting room, I proceeded to the checkout, where I was able to play the scratch-off discount lottery to get an additionl 15% savings - just for using my Kohl's card, which is not even in my ex-wife's name.

I got home to find I had a 30% off coupon on the front table, but shrugged it off as no big deal.

The following week, Daughter and I were returning from the big mall north of the big airport.  I just happened to have my 30% off coupon with me, so we stopped in the Kohl's in the town where the rich people live and shop.  I was immediately delighted to find that they had the exact style and size of putty-colored slacks...but they were no longer $21.99.  I glanced at the 30% coupon in my hand - it had expired mid-week.

Nonetheless, I summoned a passing saleschick, asking if I could speak with a manager or assistant manager. Within half a minute, it was arranged.  I explained - truthfully - that I'd shopped for just such a pair of slacks the prior Saturday, purchased a similar pair, and would've purchased these if they'd been at  the store near my house.  I asked if she could match the prior week's price, as well as honor the expired 30% discount.

I was not shocked that she agreed with my request without hesitation - Kohl's does a very good job of customer service, even if they're not so good at purging ex-wives who never lived at your new address from their mailing list.  And in just a couple minutes' time, I had saved about 50%, or enough to buy us an average dinner at Chili's.

The lesson I gave to my Daughter, and later to the sales class, was:  You don't get what you don't ask for.

Driving to work in the pre-dawn the other day - radio off - I wondered if there were other hidden deals, where a bountiful cornucopia awaits behind a metaphorical Monty Hall's door #3, just for the asking.

The answer was perfectly clear - yes!  Hiding in plain sight.

Riches far greater than anything Messrs. Kohl and Hall can offer - no coupon (expired or not) or spinning wheel required to redeem - the discount has already been prepaid for you and me, waiting just for us to claim it.  It doesn't take a multi-year PhD degree plan, a 12-step course, six video lessons, three box-tops, a shower & a shave, or negotiating with 'The Banker' to claim.

It's there.  It only takes asking for, and accepting, the Gift.  The Gift that awaits every man, woman and child.

Face it - you're not on Monty Hall's list to receive any gift.  Eventually, Mr. Kohl may drop you from his list, too.  But from the beginning of time, until the end, you are on God's list.

Will you ask for it?  Have you asked for it?


RPM said...

That was a pretty basic no-brainer on honoring the coupon. I always honored coupons a bit past their expiration date because the redemption center honors them 180 days past. It takes a while to mail those things in and get them processed.

An in-store coupon is a bit harder to massage into the paperwork, but again, if it's reasonably close to the date usually a chat with a manager will get it done.

The Donald said...

R - Absolutely, especially so since none of my request relied on any reimbursement from an outside party (e.g. P&G, Kraft, or Colgate-Palmolive). Unless they've got some weird fiscal month that doesn't correspond to the normal calendar - it all ends up in the 'Sales $' column.

The deadlines and expiration dates mainly exist, of course, to create an urgency to act. In my transaction, I don't know if the sale resulted in a positive or negative margin for the retailer (if negative, the manager would've been within reason to decline my proposal, but might still have approved as customer goodwill). And, understanding this, I'd not have been bent out of shape if my offer was partially or fully declined. Instead, I was fully tickled when it was accepted, and I am quite satisfied with my purchases.

RPM said...

The hard part with an in-store coupon is dealing with hierarchy. It all depends on their mindset. My last place of employment, a small local chain (Marketplace), would have considered it high treason to honor that coupon. They didn't like honoring their in-store coupons during the sale, either.

If you volunteered a coupon or discount you were punished for it. The other larger chains I worked for wouldn't have batted an eye.

That's the difference between being a big fish in the sea and a big fish in a little pond. Or more precisely a good businessman vs a greedy SOB.

The Donald said...

That's very interesting to me - it always strikes me odd when companies spend lots of dough on marketing campaigns and advertising, only to fumble the ball when it comes to actually dealing with customers face-to-face.

Today marks seven weeks I've been in my new job. I'm working my tail off - but the payback for me is that, for the first time in over a decade, I'm able to put my money where my mouth is and create my own management style (arguably, I didn't have much management style a decade ago). I have high requirements of my staff, but I'm also fiercely protective of their dignity as individuals, and I set the bar by working the fastest, and the longest hours. Today, my lunch was a rib (a customer brought us a plate of BBQ today) as I walked out the door at 7:45p with the last members of my staff.

Our company demands superlative service to our customers, maintains several feedback channels to ensure that their expectations are met, and acts promptly to address service deficiencies.

todd said...

How ironic that, had you not told me to tune out I probably would have by then anyway. But i read on. And Kohl's is still de debil! Well said, otherwise.