In addition to managing Echols Roofing, Siding, & Home Improvement, Mark Ashe is an author.

Your Money & Your Life is a book I wrote to share with young men and women just starting out in active life practical instructions on the issues of life. It is written to help the reader avoid major mistakes and make wise financial and personal decisions regarding not only money but starting a business, manners, making a wise marriage decision the first time, the dangers of potentially addictive behaviors and much more. One chapter is titled “Don’t be a Patsy.” Let me risk appearing immodest for a moment and share with you an excerpt from one section of that chapter for your consideration:

“Do not accept pressure in any form to make a decision. If you are conducting business (or considering matrimony), and someone attempts to subtly or overtly force you to decide in favor of their proposition, tell them to back off! You may have to be more direct than you are comfortable with, but get some grit and stand up for yourself. I have dealt with attorneys, bankers, accountants, insurance agents, and suppliers in legitimate business matters for years and an honest professional has never pressured me. If someone is pressuring you to make a decision, then you are dealing with the wrong people.

Never do business with anyone who solicits you first. Investing money as a result of an unsolicited call from a stock broker, buying a roof from someone that knocks on your door, or going through with any other similar act is just plain foolish; there is simply no other way to put it.

Let me give you an example of a relatively harmless solicitation, one that I refused just last week. I had a problem with my cell phone, so I went to the company’s local sales and service office. While I was waiting for someone to see me, a pleasant young lady approached me with a big smile and asked how I was doing and if I had been served (not out of sincere interest for my time; this was a sales “icebreaker”). She then asked who had the phone service at my home and asked me for my home telephone number, explaining that her company had a new program designed to lower my rates. I declined to give her my number. She questioned whether I had heard her correctly. I told her I had. She persisted. If I just gave her some personal information, she was going to save me money! I declined again. She became pushy (the smile was replaced by a look of determination). I politely declined. After a few minutes spent questioning me as to why I wouldn’t give her personal information not related to my visit, someone else walked in, and she went after them (and signed them up). My cell phone was repaired a few minutes later and I left.

I was not offended by this young lady’s actions or by my cell phone company’s planned solicitations toward me (the ambush of a captive audience may be a better description). If I were a shareholder in that company, I still would have declined the offer but actually been quite pleased with what they were doing. Now, let’s analyze what was really happening.

  1. I did not initiate the contact.
  2. By bundling my services, I will have to sign papers reamed to the full with language that ten attorneys could not explain to me.
  3. I am happy with what I have now. Only a naïve “something for free” hope on my part could induce me into the deal. (The management that put this program in place knows that part of human nature well and built it into the sales approach.)
  4. I will not likely spend less once all the “great upgrades” are presented as additional “valuable and wise choices”—after I have signed the first agreement, of course.
  5. This woman was paid by the hour, or on commission, and needed sales to keep her job. She knew little more about what she was selling than I did. She is a responsible young woman working to support herself—by getting people to sign papers that neither she nor they fully understand. The company was trying to hit its revenue growth projections for the Wall Street stock analysts, and my checkbook was the oyster between the cats.
  6. If this had been a deal that I thought I might be interested in, I could easily have taken all of the paperwork with me and read it over at my leisure without answering any of her questions. Signing up on the spot would have required that I violate the one rule that I will never violate: I do not do business with anyone that solicits me first. If I had decided to participate after reviewing the papers at my leisure, I could have easily returned at a later time.

Admittedly, it was a minor decision; but this is exactly how costly mistakes get started: by entertaining any conversation initiated by someone unfamiliar to you concerning your money.

I will now relate one of several incidents when I was not so cautious. About twenty years ago, someone knocked at the door of my business and asked if I needed the parking area of my office blacktopped. The pleasant stranger explained that they had just finished a nearby paving job and had a full load of unused asphalt left over, asphalt that had been paid for by the previous customer. I could get the materials for free and the labor for a bargain price if I gave them permission to go to work right away so that the asphalt could be used while it was warm. They did not want to drive all the way across town just to dump it. I had an area that needed surfacing, and I took the bait. The newly paved area looked beautiful—and lasted just two weeks. By the time a few months had passed, it was so broken up I had to pay to have it removed.

I later found out these people were gypsies that just worked their way across the state doing work so poor that it barely lasted until they got the check. Their sales story of “left-over asphalt” was the set-up for the scam. They bought a truckload of asphalt and then went looking for an idiot. (I must have looked quite promising!) They knew the common weakness of us all. We all want to think we can get something for nothing. I was $4,000 poorer and a little wiser. I should have known better.

When I was a policeman, offenses ranging from property crimes to murder occurred after naïve homeowners hired a friendly stranger who knocked on the door offering to perform some service for them. If you need a yardman or a roof or a stock or a business deal, you initiate the contact. If you are solicited by a stranger on the telephone, by a knock on your door, or in any other way, and you take the bait, your odds of being in proficient and honest hands are very small indeed! This is one of the few rules that you can safely say there are no justifiable exceptions to.

Here is an instructive sentence which I wish you to indelibly stamp into your mind for any decision-making process: Good business deals never go begging for money.”

The wisdom contained Your Money & Your Life may help you in many situations throughout the course of your life. If you would like to make a present to a friend or loved one, you can click the link below. It is 250 pages of common sense in matters of life and business we all will face.

(insert a link to my website here to buy a copy of my book)