Saturday, July 21 , 2018, 11:41 pm | Fair 66º


Paul Burri: When In Doubt, Say No

Give it time, and chances are a deal will be as good — or better — than before

I have a rule that I generally live by, and it is this: Whenever I’m in doubt about something, I usually say no.

Paul Burri
Paul Burri

Here are a few samples of the kind of questions or situations that apply: Would you like to try bungee jumping? Would you taste this? I think it may be outdated. I have a sure thing in the next race. Would you lend me $100? Here, hold these wires while I throw the switch. Does this dress make me look fat?

Similarly, whenever someone tells me that I need to sign up right now because the opportunity won’t be there tomorrow, guess what I say? I love it when I get a phone call like that. What I usually do is get the person’s phone number and call back in a week or so to ask if I can still get in on the deal. Of course, the answer 90 percent of the time is, “Yes, you can.” Then I ask if I can call back in a week after I think it over. Of course, the answer then is, “No, this offer is only good for today.” Hmmm.

Time and experience have taught me that if it’s a good deal today, it will be a good deal tomorrow — or a week from now. I would rather miss a great deal occasionally (rarely) while I think about it than to get burned on one that I have to sign up for today or else lose out on the “opportunity.” You would be surprised how many times the price for the “great opportunity” is even lower a week or two from now.

I remember going out one Sunday to buy a new car. (My wife doesn’t like to go with me because I embarrass her with the way I bargain.) Several hours later I returned home and she asked me, “Did you buy a car?” I replied, “Not yet. I’m expecting a call from the salesman in a few minutes.”

Sure enough, 10 minutes later, the phone rang and it was the car salesman on the phone telling me he had talked it over with his manager and that he was now able to lower his “rock-bottom price” — the price he had been adamant about when I was at the dealership — by a few hundred dollars “if I was willing to come back and sign the deal ‘right now.’”

A few days after that phone call, I bought the car for $250 below the phone-call price.

I think there’s a lot to be said for saying no to a lot of things.

— Paul Burri is an entrepreneur, inventor, columnist, engineer and iconoclast. He is not in the advertising business, but he is a small-business counselor with the Santa Barbara chapter of Counselors to America’s Small Business-SCORE. The opinions and comments in this column are his alone and do not represent the opinions or policies of any outside organization. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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