Sunday, October 2, 2011

Refuse to Sell

With age comes many things: wisdom, perspective, patience. And updated prescriptions for your glasses. Yes, after going almost blind looking at all those Excel spreadsheets of funnel data and financial aid amounts in preparation for my September Board meeting, it was evident I needed an update! So in between all the events of Association Weekend (i.e. homecoming) I made a dash to Toronto yesterday for some new frames and lenses.

Now that was an interesting experience. I sought the advice of sophisticated Toronto friends (who wear glasses, needless to say!) and they sent me to what ended up being the centre of hip, progressive, and fashionable eyewear. Well, there are three things you don’t associate with me! After doing battle with them over the fact that I wasn’t going to be busting out some “geek chic” black frames, circa “Leave It To Beaver,” I put the owner on the phone with my friends who had sent me there. I don’t know what they said but I ended up with a pair they refer to as “retro banker”. They’re different but not so different that I wasn’t uncomfortable with buying and wearing them.* Being hip certainly comes with a pricetag.

During the earlier negotiations I pulled out some frames I thought were more “me” and they pulled out their “refuse to sell” policy. Even when I exclaimed it was my face and my money and they should sell me what I wanted, they referred to their policy and explained they refuse to sell a pair of frames they felt were not appropriate, were not attractive on me, and would not reflect favorably on their business. Interesting. Who turns away revenue? Isn’t it a “buyer beware” and take the cheque kind of thing??

Who turns away revenue? We do. As I drove back to campus to chat up some more alumni, I realized that my whole career has been spent executing a “refuse to sell” policy. If I don’t think that my school and the applicant are a good match, I’ll deny him or her admission, regardless of the parents’ readiness to spend the money. Like those crazy people at the eyewear store, I am not offering admission when I think it’s not appropriate. It may be hard to see the revenue walk away but if we’re doing our jobs with integrity, then we do, in fact, refuse to sell.

Our jobs are to look after the best interest of our institutions and look after the best interest of our applicants, not unlike how those crazy eyewear people were looking after me—and looking after themselves.

*For those going to Saudi Aramco in two weeks, I think you’ll get to “see” me there with them. I “look” forward to it. Puns intended!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this thought-provoking post. I wonder if economic uncertainty confronted the eyewear store, would they rethink the "refuse to sell" stance. I wonder what flexibility they would apply to their operating system. I wonder what flexibility independent schools do/will apply as well.