Last week, I had several errands to run, one of which was to get my favorite pair of sandals repaired. I had bought them close to eight years ago, but I loved the way that they looked on my feet and they were super comfortable. One top of that, I bought them on sale and haven’t seen sandals quite like them since that purchase.
When I handed over my sandals to the shoemaker, I told him I wanted two things done: two new closures and a dye job to even out the fading and spotting silver ankle band. He told me that it would cost me $20.
I told him that his price was too expensive, expecting him to knock off a few dollars. What he did next made me both a better customer and a better business owner in one swoop.
He told me, “Here. Take your shoes and go some place else.”
And in the moment, I was happy to do so. I took my shoes and my dignity and walked out of his back-of-the-barbershop shoe repair stand with a mission to “show him.”
But as the day continued and my errand list became smaller, I started to think about what really happened between Mr. Shoe Repair and me and the business lessons that emerged from our quick exchange.
Here are three.
1. You have to be willing to walk away to win in business. Mr. Shoe Repair had no problem telling me politely that he wasn’t hungry for my business. He stood by the quality of his work as evidenced by the number of repeat customers that he had, including me. He knew his worth. The fact that I returned to him a few hours later revealed that I did as well.
2. Don’t be pennywise and pound foolish in your business interactions. After sashaying out of the repair shop, I realized a few things. I realized that I had a pair of sandals that still needed a lot of love and attention and I had very little time to go hunt down a new shoe repair place to possibly save a few bucks. I also realized that I was happy with work that he had done in the past.
3. Fights about price really aren’t always fights about price. If I’m going to be honest, I think I might have been in a bad mood from the previous evening and wanted to assert some type of power on an unsuspecting third party. Perhaps pushing Mr. Shoe Repair to give me a discount would be the win I couldn’t secure the night before in a heated discussion with a close friend. My emotional spending (or lack thereof) was not his problem and he didn’t make it affect his bottom line.
A few days after the sandal scandal, I was approached by a marketing company that wanted to work with me on a sponsored post for “The Frugal Feminista.” I shared my rates with them. They asked me to come down on the price. I was happy to since I had a range that I was comfortable agreeing to. But when they wanted to negotiate below my rate, my thoughts quickly returned to my dear Mr. Shoe Repair.
I laughed as this marketing firm as they told me what they would and would not pay to showcase content on my site. I laughed as I wrote a polite, yet firm email that told them that I no longer had an interest in working with them.
And my last laugh was the best one: I received two frantic, yet apologetic emails from the “small budget” marketing firm; they had miraculously found the extra money to pay the rate that I had asked for.