Pandemic business trend:  Increased use of the break-up clause

Issue:

This week, United, American and Delta airlines announced the suspension of most (not all) change fees when a passenger wants to alter their plans for domestic air travel (a story appeared in the Washington Post). Some retail landlords are writing payment deferral clauses into their contracts when new tenants are considering a lease (that story was in the Wall Street Journal). Last week, another Wall Street Journal story explained that many mortgage lenders have added an additional round of paperwork, asking borrowers to confirm that they plan to pay their mortgage payment, have a job, and cannot request "forebearance" until their mortgage is backed by a government entity (see that story here).

Opportunity/Idea:

The uncertainty created by the pandemic, the economy and the labor market is finding its way into the conversation between vendors and consumers, making some buyers reluctant to buy and some sellers reluctant to sell. This is an important conversation to have with many of your clients, as it becomes an increasingly important part of the conversation they need to have with customers. For big-ticket purchases, especially, an escape clause could put the consumer more at-ease in the event of job loss or a change in their household income (within a certain window of time). And for the vendor, uncertainty could drive their need to re-consider their Ideal Target Consumer; a qualified buyer today may not look precisely like a qualified buyer from last year.

Ways you might use this issue to gain an appointment:

  • Consider whether your prospect or client is addressing the uncertainty of the current climate by offering options to regain a deposit in case of job loss, alter a reservation in case of changing restrictions or pandemic conditions, or even return a major purchase for a refund if the customers' circumstances change. Having such options could reduce the consumers' fear of commitment.
  • Remind your client that it's not enough to have that plan; the plan must be publicized. Concerns about committing to a major purchase may be unspoken on the part of the customer. Proactive messaging can help.

Using this issue in a Needs Analysis:

  • From airlines to retail landlords, a lot of vendors are making it easier for consumers to defer payments or make changes to their plans. Have you considered any type of accommodation for customers who might be afraid to commit to a major purchase when they know circumstances can change quickly?
  • Given the state of uncertainty that exists out there right now, do you find customers even more reluctant to "close the deal" and move forward? What goes into the conversations you're having with buyers to settle them down and give them an added sense of confidence about moving forward with a purchase?

Sources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/transportation/2020/08/31/airlines-eliminate-change-fees/

https://www.wsj.com/articles/retail-landlords-offer-pandemic-clauses-in-new-leases-11598347800

https://www.wsj.com/articles/before-making-loans-some-mortgage-lenders-ask-do-you-really-plan-to-pay-this-11598362214

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