Secrets to Success

Deborah Cole Micek

Reverse the risk

When I first moved to Hawaii, I had a big responsibility on my shoulders. I had both the joy and challenge of furnishing and decorating every room in our house and RPM Success's offices.

What began as almost a dream come true proved more difficult than I imagined. I was shocked to discover the policies at some large and small stores. Policies that restricted the consumer. I was baffled why any store owner would want to discourage people from buying from them.

After all, didn't they want repeat business? Did they want to constantly struggle to bring in new business through costly advertising every week?

One experience I will never forget. We needed several lamps for our home, and wanted to create a specific ambiance. After locating a local lighting store that specialized in "higher-end" fixtures, I went shopping. I selected several lamps, fans and switches that seemed to work perfectly with the look we were going for in our home.

Then I noticed the small sign by the register emphatically stating: No Returns. No Exceptions. They might as well have had a closed sign on their door, because I wasn't about to plop down a fist full of cash and walk out with the risk they were asking me to take.

I asked the sales person, "What if it doesn't have the effect in the room that we're looking for? Can we exchange it for something that would work better?" I asked.

To which the owner shook his head, "Sorry, we don't allow returns."

Shocked, I pressed further. I inquired, "What if it doesn't work after we install it? Is that a reason to return it for a replacement?"

Emphatically, he said, "No. We test them at the store. It works. We don't accept any returns."

Can you guess what I did at this point? I left the items I selected right at the counter, vowing never to return. And I've told at least 10 other new friends who recently moved here, looking to fill their vacation rentals or homes with furniture and accessories, which stores to frequent and which ones to avoid.

In contrast to this example of how not to do business, the better way is to "reverse the risk" from your customer to yourself.

Bali Aga, a local furniture store we "happened to find" while test driving our new Grand Cherokee, alleviated our concerns and offered the solution. They had a simple sign outside their store, advertising "fine Asian furniture at reasonable rates." My husband stopped the Jeep and we took a look. The products were unique, high quality and offered the elegant simplicity we were both looking for.

The business owners were more than amenable to accommodate our needs. They were even willing to deliver all the pieces we liked, and if something just didn't fit right, look right or feel right they would take it back and not charge us a dime for the items we didn't want.

Can you see by the first example how some business practices actually discourage buyers, cause fear and instill doubt in the customer's mind? See how that actually drives business away? Contrast that with the results of the latter example. Which result would you prefer?

Deborah Cole Micek, chief executive officer
of RPM Success Group, is a business success coach
and life strategist. Reach her at
or (888) 334-8151.


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