About 3pm yesterday afternoon, which in Yorkshire at this time of year is when it starts to go dark, there was a knock at the door.
I was working in my office and the kids were sitting in front of a warm TV so my wife answered the door.
I heard some mumbling then she called me to the open door. As I passed her she turned to me and raised her eyebrows a little making sure the person standing in the doorway couldn’t see her.
The sky was turning dark so I flicked on the outside light and watched the poor bloke’s pupils shrink to the size of decimal points as the light hit him full in the face.
He nodded and said ‘Sorry to bother you sir (HOW old am I?) but we’re in the area clearing roof guttering and we wondered if you’d like your guttering clearing out and sealing. We can do the work right now’.
Before he’d finished speaking I interrupted with ‘How much?’
‘A tenner’ he said in what I now recognised was a broad Irish accent. I told him I thought that was a fine price and he should start immediately.
Now there are, in my part of the world, unscrupulous individuals who offer to replace tiles, clear gutters and the like, then go up on your roof, break as many tiles as they can without being noticed, tell you your roof is knackered and will rain in at the first sign of a dark cloud then charge you £400 to fix it.
Which is why whenever anybody offers to do work on my house like this, I pour a small glass of scotch and go outside talking to them while they work.
Which is what I did.
Now my home is the larger part of an old property that has been split into two. The gutter runs along the front and rear roof of the house, which is quite long. Not too bad for the workers, but it also runs along two extensions and a garage that have been added on over the years.
It’s also over 200 years old and the gutters are wide and deep – perfect in fact for all manner of sludgy, crappy, smelly wet goo to gather there.
Which is why I don’t do the job myself.
The poor blokes were at it for nearly an hour. They thought it should be a 5 minute job, but instead it turned into 60 finger numbing, cold, wet minutes for ten pounds. There were two of them so that was a fiver each. Not good pay by any standards.
But (here comes the marketing bit) they weren’t doing it for the money – they were doing it as a loss leader – to get a foot in the door if they will. Just like offering a freebie from your website to get prospects to know and trust you. Once they’ve downloaded the freebie you can start to sell to them.
Which is what they did next.
‘Your roof’s in really good condition, sir’ they said.
‘But your ridge tiles…..’ Here he made the sound that only builders and car mechanics can make by sucking in a long breath of air over clenched teeth. The one that tells you it’s going to cost a lot of money to fix.
It seems my ridge tiles were ‘shagged’ and at the first sign of rain would leak like a minor government official.
Good news though – they could fix the problem for just £280 – about $560.
I knew for a fact that my ridge tiles were not shagged or anything else because a builder friend who did a bit of work for me in the summer told me they were in very good condition.
I said I didn’t want any more work doing, thanks. That got rid of their ‘upsell’ but quick….what’s this?
Now they showed me their TIME LIMITED OFFER
He said ‘I know money can be tight after Christmas sir, but since we’ve no work on until next week we’ll do it for you for just £250, but we’ll have to start this week.
When I said no they said I offered a hard bargain and introdued their ‘ONE TIME OFFER’ – never to be seen again, of just £200 – ‘and I’m cutting me own throat at that price’.
Well I turned them down again and by now the sky was very dark and my scotch had gone. So had my interest in the encounter, but it made Me think about my own business – and to those of us who think that time limited offers, one time offers and sales generating freebies are a cutting edge internet concept, think again eh?
PS It won’t be funny if it DOES rain in next time the storm clouds gather.
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