Exotic travel can teach you something about business

March 14, 2023
The concept of “good for you, good for me,” is about communication and cooperation with clients who are pushing operators to the brink, demanding high-end service in workplace environments.

One of the things I love about international travel, especially to more exotic destinations, is the opportunity to spend some time with local businesspeople, from street merchants to store owners. Invariably, when the world of commerce is viewed from their perspective, there are lessons to be learned. Last month, I received a nice business lesson in Cambodia.

But before we explore that, let’s jump back to 2019 after I visited the San Pedro Market in Cusco, Peru, and I wrote about their concept of “Yapa.” With the NAMA Show right around the corner, Yapa is something to keep in mind.

In the 2019 article, I wrote, “Literally, Yapa translates to a little something extra — something to sweeten the deal. Juan Trujillo, an expert on Peruvian culture and a long-time guide on the trails of Machu Picchu, said Yapa is the reason locals choose the gritty San Pedro Market over the upper-class chain market across the street. “We have ten vendors selling the same fresh fruit juice for the same price. I choose the one who throws in a nice papaya to take home with the juice — the Yapa,” said Trujillo. “Because of the Yapa, I come back to the same vendor every time. They earn my loyalty.”

How does this apply to the upcoming 2023 NAMA Show? As I noted, operators should look for the Yapa at the NAMA Show: “Keep in mind that exhibitors make a big investment when they attend the NAMA Show, probably more than you realize. They want to come back from the show with some orders, commitments and strong new opportunities in their pocket. For operators, the NAMA Show is a great time to ask for some Yapa — a little something extra to sweeten the deal.”

A Cambodian lesson

On a recent trip to southeast Asia, Cambodia specifically, I was reminded of a business concept that has jumped to the forefront in this world of hybrid workplaces – cooperation. Walking through an outdoor market in Siem Reap, Cambodia, a stone’s throw from the historic Angkor Wat temple site, I spotted a treasure hanging on a clothing rack – 100% cotton, white, short sleeve and perfect for a 100% humidity day (most days). I’m a medium in the U.S. and an XL in Asia, and they had one in stock! My wife Peg wanted one too, and the negotiations began, because it’s part of the culture.

“$30 for two,” said the merchant, as her family looked on.

“I’ll give you $20,” I said.

“$25 – This deal is good for you, good for me,” she said, as she put the items in a bag. I agreed, mindful of how important the sale was to her.

Done deal. Great closing technique and a concept to live by in business: “Good for you, good for me.”

In a 2022 Forbes Magazine article, George Brandt explored the concept of best deal and fair deal. “The difference between the best deal and a fair deal is all about mindset. In almost any case, striving to do the best deal for your side requires a less-than-best deal for the other side. On the other hand, there’s a lot more room for all to win if you’re looking for a fair deal for all. My proposition is that the best deals at least tend towards win-lose. In that, they are transactional. All the value is in the deal. None in the relationship,” wrote Brandt. “Conversely, fair deals tend towards win-win. Some of the value is in the immediate deal. Some of the value is in the future relationship.”

The concept of “good for you, good for me,” is becoming critically relevant in today’s office environment. It’s about communication, cooperation with and sometimes, financial cooperation from clients, who are pushing operators to the brink, demanding high-end service in an unpredictable, hybrid workplace environment. Debbie McGaw, director of sales for refreshment services at Five Star Food Service, said that “communication and cooperation between the vendor and the customer are at an all-time high.” McGaw pointed out that in order to service clients effectively in the world of hybrid workplaces, it is essential to work closely with clients.

“Good for you – good for me.”

Too good for you?

Ultimately, if the deal you make is too one-sided in your direction, it can come back to bite everyone on multiple levels. I wrote about that in “Lessons from unexpected outcomes,” a good read back in 2017. Check it out.

In that column, I talked about an OCS offer we made to a studio after seeing their invoices. They were getting hammered so badly by the current vendor, that our basic proposal represented a 35% savings.

After assuming that she had closed the deal – a slam dunk – my account executive heard nothing but crickets. Days passed. The office manager at the studio was unreachable. Our account executive was not ready to give up. She finally reached the office manager and he explained why, to her amazement, the studio would not move forward with our company:

“The 35% savings was a little too good,” he said. “Ten or 15% savings would be fine, but 35% makes us all look bad for what has happened here over the past couple of years.”

He explained that the existing vendor dropped his price 15% and would be keeping the business. Lesson learned. We were way too generous with our offer. In this case, a 15% savings was “good enough for you, good enough for me.”


Bob Tullio is a content specialist, speaker, sales trainer, consultant and contributing editor of Automatic Merchandiser/VendingMarketWatch.com. He advises entrepreneurs on how to build a successful business from the ground up and specializes in helping suppliers connect with operators in the convenience services industry – coffee service, vending, micro markets and pantry service specifically. 

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