They Move in Packs, But Only One Gets the Kill
Washington, DC – They eyed me up as soon as I entered the parking lot. I was in the truck that day.
As I grabbed my cart and headed to the door of the Home Depot, the onslaught began. “What’s you need, amigo? Trabajo bien…y rapido!” I work hard… and fast.
“Un pintador. Hablamos cuando volver,” I said in my rickety Spanish. I needed a painter, but I put them off until after I wandered around my favorite toy store.
Many years of haggling with Mexican taxi drivers, Greek ferry pilots, and Laotian street vendors had taught me “the art of the deal.” Or so I thought.
An interesting thing happened upon my return. While the going rate had always been $15 an hour, to a man, it was now $25 an hour. Kudos to them. Collusion was alive and well in the shadow economy.
After a little more haggling and fully recognizing that an extra $5 meant a lot more to them than it did to me, I settled on $20 with one lonely voice on the fringe.
We were in business… a business that many people (and one very outspoken politician) think is terrible. But I think I pay more than my fair share of taxes and no painting business would ever be interested in the kind of sidekick help I was looking for. Plus, I was about to help feed a small village in Guatemala for a day or three.
I felt good. Alberto felt good. And we were headed back to the house I’m renovating (with a real company and plenty of real taxes).
They’re doing everything except the built-in cabinetry (a hobby of mine) and the painting. The drywall isn’t up yet, but our first task was to clear coat the exposed brick wall running up the stairwell of my 1923 house in historic Mt. Pleasant.
Why on earth would the president of an investing research firm paint his own house?
Well, it’s a bit of a sickness. We all have them.
You see, I painted houses for three years in college and still can’t bring myself to pay a painter. Stupid, I know.
I’ve got a business to build and customers to serve. And that brings me to another point before I tell you something really impressive about Alberto…
Churn Is the Enemy
You might know the term “churn” from the much-reviled cable TV and cell phone industries. It’s what they call the revolving door of customers who come on board at low introductory rates and then run for the hills as soon as their contract ends.
Many customers leave because they’re always in search of the best deal. But my informal research indicates that the masses (who are prone to inertia, and thus are more likely to stick around unless forced to do otherwise) are more likely to leave because they had a bad product or customer service experience.
There are parallels with our investing research business.
It costs us about $150 in marketing expenses for every new customer. So, we typically don’t make money during a new subscriber’s first year with our $99 Personal Finance newsletter.
But we’re okay with that because our real desire is to give high-quality advice to a large number of self-directed investors in hopes of finding the handful who are really serious about building long-term wealth.
And we identify those elite investors by simply offering a handful of higher-priced expert services.
Our Velocity Trader service, managed by expert options trader Jim Fink, is a great example. Velocity Trader costs a select group of members $3,000 a year. For a couple more days we’ve reduced that price by 1/3 for new members, but even at $3,000, it’s a tremendous value.
They receive 2-3 sophisticated options trades every week that can easily deliver triple-digit wins, get direct access to Jim Fink (and me), and join a robust community of like-minded investors who are eager to share success tips along the way.
We do a pretty good job of providing high-quality advice and customer service to all our customers, but we take extra good care of the members of our elite services.
Yet, even with the extra level of service, we, too, have churn. In fact, almost 1 out of every 2 people who sign up for Velocity Trader claim their 100% full refund within our 60-day refund period.
Unhappy? Disappointed? Sure we are. But we only want customers to pay for something that truly gives THEM value. And if everyone stayed on board it would be that much harder for Jim Fink to provide the level of attention and service he does to all members.
Fortunately, even after refunds, we still have plenty of happy (and successful) members to Jim Fink’s Velocity Trader. And like I’m about to tell you about Alberto, we take great care of them. We’d be in financial ruin if we didn’t…
Alberto was true to his word. A hard worker with good results.
He knew what he was doing, but I directed traffic. And for the most part, I worked right alongside him. But the $20 an hour was well worth it because Alberto did most of the ladder and scaffolding work.
While I enjoy the act of painting, I no longer care much for heights. Back in my college days, I had no problem being up on a three-story ladder with one foot on a window sill, one hand on a gutter, and the other reaching to paint the furthest possible point I could reach. Saved me from having to move the ladder too much. In fact, my friend and I nicknamed our 32’ ladder “The Humiliator” because embarrassing things usually happened when of our 125-pound frames tried to move it by ourselves.
Anyway, we painted and chatted for hours before stopping for lunch. When we did, Alberto asked for turpentine to clean his brush with right away.
I told him not to worry, we’d only be resting for 30 minutes at most. But he wasn’t having any of that. His paint brush was his treasure and turpentine was his liquid gold.
Now, if you’re like me, you give your paint brushes a decent cleaning at the end of each day or maybe several days if you just leave it in the can. But you fully expect it to get ratty over time and need replacing. You don’t fret over every little speck of paint on it.
Not Alberto. He proceeded to show me in great detail how he takes care of his paint brush. And that meant suspending it in either turpentine or water whenever he stopped using it for more than 15 minutes.
I thought he was going a bit overboard, but I haven’t walked in the man’s shoes.
That paint brush is his life blood. And as I discovered, he was indeed feeding a Guatemalan village with it.
Editors Note: As Phil mentioned above, for a limited time we’ve reduced the cost of our Velocity Trader service by more than 1/3 for new members. If you’re interested in joining, click here to learn more about our service and the extreme performance guarantee we’re offering for the next few days only.