Yesterday at 9:05 a.m. I set out in search of my free Grand Slam breakfast at Denny’s. Much to my surprise, most of the rest of Maricopa County had done the same. Who knew so many people watched the Super Bowl?
As my son and I pulled into the first parking lot, I noticed from afar the long line wending its way from the front door down the sidewalk and into the parking lot. Undaunted, we drove to the next-closest Denny’s only to discover dozens of people sitting on the sidewalk waiting for their meal.
Daunted, we turned toward home and passed a third location with the exact same long line in play. (Well, not the exact same long line as I presume the people were different lest they were clones, but I think you know what I mean.)
Surrendering to the inevitable, and still on the hook for the pancakes that I had promised the boy, we drove an extra block to the Village Inn. And as we waited for our breakfast (and waited, and waited … there were only two cooks working), I realized that what I and everyone else had been chasing was a free $4.99 breakfast.
Imagine, spending an hour or more out of your day to eat a $4.99 breakfast for free. You can’t even it call it saving $4.99 because it’s money most people likely wouldn’t have spent and a trip most wouldn’t have made had the food not been free.
In many ways, the entire fiasco reminds me of the effort to purchase a short sale. It’s not the most perfect example – unlike a short sale where few close, with this free breakfast offer you knew you were going to get your food if you made it in the front door – but it’s close enough for our purposes:
- There’s a perception of value and of savings, possibly out of proportion to what you might actually receive.
- You’re willing to wait unusually and illogically long time periods to realize those perceived savings.
- When it’s all over, you’re likely to look back and wonder if it was worth the effort
Sure, you could have had a free breakfast at Denny’s but you also could have gone looking for Mr. Nanapuss and driven over to Village Inn, where essentially the same breakfast was only $3.99 – a dollar less than the normal cost of a Grand Slam.
For someone who was going to purchase breakfast either way or, more to the point, would be purchasing breakfast today instead of going out yesterday for the freebie, here is where the real savings were. An actual, tangible dollar off – 20% if you will.
Which is why the Village Inn special reminded me of bank-owned homes. Maybe the eggs weren’t quite as well done as I prefer (took two tries) and maybe the bacon’s just a little bit smaller than at Denny’s. But unlike the hours-long wait next door, even short-staffed we were in and out in under an hour, our bellies full and the rest of our lives in front of us.
We realized actual savings (results and mileage may vary – it’s easier to save 20% on a $4 breakfast than a $100,000 house) and ended up with the product we wanted in a far more timely manner without all the surrounding mystery.
It’s a day late for me to tell you to head to Village Inn instead of Denny’s, but it’s not too late for me to tell you to consider those bank-owned homes long before you even think about taking your chances on a short sale.
Even Mr. Nanapuss (the dancing banana from the Denny’s ad, for those wondering what I’m talking about) would agree.