What if a great idea knocked on your door?

Ramit Sethi

Last summer, I lived in a really nice apartment. Frankly, for a guy who feasts on Ramen and has held 2 official business meetings at a Taco Bell this month, it was a little too nice.

But due to some patience, good luck, and negotiating, I got a great deal on a sublet for a few months. And so I lived in luxury while paying not too much.

At the end of the summer, I was deciding whether to move into an actual house or stay in the same apartment building. I figured I’d find out how much a 1-bedroom or 2-bedroom place in my apartment building would cost, so I called the phone number downstairs. You should also know that as you drove into my apartment complex, there was a huge sign that said “Now leasing!”

I called but no one picked up, so I left a message that basically said, “Hi, my name is Ramit and I’m interested in renting a 1 or 2-bedroom place starting in a month. Can you call me back so we can talk about the details?”

Now, this call was a qualified inquiry literally worth thousands of dollars to them–not just for a month of my residence, but for the 12, 24, or even 48 months that I might have lived there. But guess what?

I never got a call back.

The apartment complex automatically lost that money. All for not calling back.

This Failure of the Last Mile happens more than you would think. Sometime it’s because of a mistake (someone accidentally deleted the message). Sometimes it’s because of laziness (someone didn’t want to call back). And sometimes people just don’t know about a good idea or recognize that it’s knocking on their door.

What if there was such a good idea that you could make thousands of dollars–maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars–by taking a few simple steps?

There is.

You can.

It’s called the Roth IRA. I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.

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  1. Jennifer

    Wow! The EXACT same thing happened to me last summer. I must have left six messages with them.

  2. hopster

    I’ve been waiting for a Roth IRA article for a while, great to hear that it’s coming! I opened my Roth IRA just before the 2005 cut-off and it feels great to have finally pulled the trigger. I wish I would have done it sooner.

    I went through Vanguard and am polishing up an article on how Vanguard IRAs work. It will be posted soon on my blog for all to check out.

  3. Alex Ravenel

    I was recently looking for an apartment and the same thing happened to me at multiple places. I really didn’t understand it–I was potentially going to give the owner thousands of dollars over the next few months, but a simple return phone call was too much effort. Too bad, they lost my business, and I found a better place anyways. And the “For Rent”/”Available Now” signs are still out front. Guess they didn’t want to rent them too bad…

  4. chris sivori

    This is why property management companies need to pay a commission. A lot do. Any time sales are involved, it helps to incentivize unsupervised employees.

  5. Tech

    Hi Ramit

    Well, maybe I am not thousands dollars worth visitor of this site but when you talk about last mile there is one thing I would like to complain about your site. Maybe it is only me but you judge it. I will speak for myself.

    I have made subscription to your RSS feed. I like your articles. The only thing I do not like is that you put content of your message in an iframe. That loads html from your site. Well I like your site but I do not like html messages in my Thunderbird. Almost every subscription is plain text. I can search archives, index it and more. Also I do not like “freezing my brain” for 5 seconds while I click on message till html from your site loads. It should be instantaneously in my RSS aggregator and displayed.

    Because of that I almost delete subscription to your RSS feed. There is something worth reading that prevents me from doing that. Well, as I said it is maybe just I. You judge or offer 2 subscriptions HTML/Plain text

  6. Ramit Sethi

    Tech, thanks. You should subscribe to my Atom feed, which is full-text so you won’t have to click anywhere:

  7. Tech

    Thanks for prompt answer! I really appreciate that! You really did not fail on the last mile 🙂

  8. maulleigh

    You’re forgetting something really important: you’re not the only person who has that kind of money. Have you ever posted an ad on craigslist and had hundreds of answers? I’ll bet there are plenty of wealthy young men in the Bay Area who are looking for housing. There might have been 30 or 40 people on that answering machine. After cherry picking a couple answers, they probably went from there. To call back all those people would be a waste of time once they got the winner: and s/he was probably the early worm. Although, now that I re-read it, I see that there are probably other factors involved. One, they could have someone’s brother in charge: the brother who doesn’t give a damn. I have a very bureaucratic job where I get paid the same amount whether or no I do work. I’ll bet there’s a little communism somewhere going on.

  9. Maureen

    I agree with Chris Sivori that paying a commission would motivate the employees to do their jobs more efficiently however, a lot of companies are just plain cheap and the minute they offer a commission, they reduce the hourly rate/ salaries and at the end of the day it’s a catch 22.

  10. Allen

    Here’s another scenario. You go to an apartment complex and the salesperson takes you on a tour of the apartments. You fill out your contact information and tell them you will be moving in 2 months. Do they call back? Ever? Not in my experience. We must have looked at 8-10 apartments and only one called us back. They were in a remote area so I suppose they were more hungry.

  11. Hawk

    I’m not sure I’d expect a call back from an apartment. If I didn’t get a warm body, I’d call again until I did.

    I’m not sure why… I assume it’s probably because a *lot* of people probably contact them, but very few are more than just casual people looking for more information or doing long-term planning.

    It might be a last-mile failure, but it’s not *my* last mile failure.

    The way I look at apartments, I will decide on an apartment and then try to find out if they have one available. If they do, then I try to lease it.

    I won’t cast out a wide net and evaluate only the ones that call me back. I didn’t have this problem with my current apartment because they were available during the day every time I called.