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Delaena Kalevor – Why the “Breakage” Model is Profitable But Could Prove Unsustainable

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I would like to introduce readers to a concept called “breakage.” It’s a common business strategy in fee-based or subscription-based services, such as gym memberships, video rentals, and annual fee credit cards. It’s also common in loyalty rewards programs.

Before I discuss this concept, I want you to think of how most businesses operate. The customers want a particular product or service. They buy it. They use it and the transaction is complete.

Let’s consider a basic example:

Let’s assume that you’re hungry and you want a bacon burger.

You go to the drive-through and buy a burger. You eat the burger.

You’re happy because you’re no longer hungry.

 The drive-through franchise owner is happy because they generated a sale. This is how most businesses work.

The “breakage” model works the exact opposite way. With breakage, the company makes money when you do not use the product or service you purchased.

Let’s look at the gift card business for example: Let’s assume you buy a $25 gift card from Amazon.

You give the gift card to your friend for his birthday. How does Amazon make any money doing this?

Well, it turns out that for every $100 spent on buying a gift card, only $75 is actually ever redeemed. People who receive the gift card either lose the card, forget about the card, don’t use up the entire value of the card or the card expires.

This is breakage. Gift cards have an implied breakage of 25%. Meaning on average 25% of the value of gift cards never get redeemed. According to Delaena Kalevor, breakage can be very profitable. When someone purchases a gift card, the issuer of the gift card recognizes the gift card value as a contingent liability on their balance sheet. When the gift card value expires, the contingent liability is taken off the books and recognized as revenue. This has a direct accretive impact on net income, which can make breakage in the gift card and loyalty rewards industry extremely profitable.

The cashback and loyalty programs of credit card issuers also work in the same way and breakage is a valuable part of how these banks make money. They use tools like redemption caps (for example with American Express, you can’t redeem until you have $75 worth of points), points expiration, etc to enforce breakage. Most customers never reach that $75 redemption threshold before the points expire. This is an example of breakage. That’s why Delaena Kalevor’s favorite credit card is Discover Card. They have no breakage at all – no redemption caps and no points expiration.

Another example of breakage is health clubs or gyms. The parallel to that in the credit card industry is cards that have an annual fee.

Most fitness centers work on a monthly membership fee model.

I pay $50 a month to have access to the facility.

Whether I show up every day or never show up, I still pay the health club the same $50.

In the health club business, by far the most profitable customers in the industry are people who sign up as members but don’t actually show up to the gym.

This is also breakage. Similarly, credit card customers with an annual fee credit card, generate breakage income for the issuing bank when they do not use their card.

Breakage-based business models can be very profitable. Imagine a health club with 10,000 paying members where nobody actually shows up.

The problem with breakage business models is that you’re receiving value from customers without customers actually receiving value in return. Basically, you’re betting that customers are too lazy to recognize this.

Before Netflix and video streaming of movies became popular, a company called Blockbuster used to rent DVD movies to entertainment seekers. You would rent a movie for two nights for something like $5. If you forgot to return the movie on time, they would charge you a $3/day late fee.

Imagine renting five movies for the weekend and forgetting to return the movies for an entire week. Instead of spending $25, you end up spending $100.

This is a form of breakage too. In fact, at its peak, Blockbuster was generating 70% of its net income from late fees. Their profits came from customers who were too lazy or forgetful to return the DVD sitting in their car.

The problem with breakage though is that customers DO NOT like it.

When Netflix first started, they had a subscription-based DVD rental by mail business. For a flat fee each month, you could keep the movies you rented for as long as you wanted.

According to Delaena Kalevor, Netflix targeted Blockbuster’s most profitable customers — those that pay late fees — and ultimately put Blockbuster out of business.

Personally, I prefer a business where sales and profits come from happy customers, instead of unhappy ones that wish your way of business didn’t exist.

I don’t see the gift card, loyalty rewards, and health club businesses going out of business anytime soon. I don’t even expect their breakage business model to change. But Delaena Kalevor likes the idea of customers receiving good value for what they pay. The value should be mutually beneficial, like in the burger example. It’s a good thing to profit from really happy customers that are thrilled to do business with you. Blockbuster did not expect to go bankrupt. But they did. History has a funny way of repeating itself. The breakage based businesses out there should take lessons from Blockbuster’s experience.

The idea of Bigtime Daily landed this engineer cum journalist from a multi-national company to the digital avenue. Matthew brought life to this idea and rendered all that was necessary to create an interactive and attractive platform for the readers. Apart from managing the platform, he also contributes his expertise in business niche.

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Business

Robert DeFalco Realty Leads the Way with Strategic Expansion and Philanthropy

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Robert DeFalco, the visionary founder and Owner/Operator of Robert DeFalco Realty, cemented his reputation as a huge force in the real estate industry. His firm, recognized as the #1 real estate company in Staten Island, embarked on a significant expansion this year, solidifying its status as a comprehensive hub for real estate services in New York and New Jersey.

Strategic Growth and New Partnerships

This growth involves not only a physical expansion, but also a strategic partnership with Think Mortgage, a prominent mortgage firm with a strong presence in Brooklyn and Staten Island. The collaboration aligns perfectly with DeFalco’s vision of providing seamless and integrated real estate transactions.

“We are creating a holistic experience,” stated DeFalco.

By partnering with Think Mortgage, Robert DeFalco Realty ensures clients can find their ideal home and secure the best possible mortgage rates, simplifying the process into a smooth journey from start to finish — all in one building.

Comprehensive Services Under One Roof

The firm moved to a new location in Brooklyn, occupying an entire corner block to house its operations. The expansion ensures that clients can access all necessary services under one roof, including real estate and mortgage services, in-house title services, legal expertise, and more. The move underscores DeFalco’s commitment to providing unparalleled convenience for clients.

“We are creating a synergy where all real estate needs are met promptly and professionally, right here,” added DeFalco.

A Legacy of Philanthropy

Beyond his professional achievements, DeFalco is renowned for his philanthropic efforts. He believes in the responsibility of businesses to give back to their communities. Under his leadership, Robert DeFalco Realty is a leading sponsor for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, raising substantial funds annually.

In 2019, the Emergency Children’s Help Organization honored DeFalco for his significant contributions, recognizing him with the Man of the Year Award. His dedication to philanthropy also earned him the Service and Dedication Award from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in 2022.

Community Engagement and Support

Robert DeFalco Realty’s commitment to philanthropy extends to various community events and local charities. The firm supports a wide range of organizations, including the American Cancer Society, City Harvest, Monmouth University, St. Peters High School, and many more. Their efforts make a substantial positive impact, with total donations surpassing $1,000,000.

Most recently, DeFalco attended and sponsored the ECHO Foundation, GRACE Foundation, and Tunnel to Towers events in various capacities.

Looking Forward

With its recent expansion and continued commitment to comprehensive real estate services, Robert DeFalco Realty reaffirms its position as the premier one-stop real estate shop in the northeastern region. The firm continues to uphold its foundational philosophy of treating people well, a mantra that has guided its operations since its inception in 1987 and continues to inspire its growth and innovation today.

About Robert DeFalco

Robert DeFalco Realty was founded in 1987 by Robert DeFalco, a real estate Broker/Owner who wanted to help families achieve their dream of homeownership. Through the philosophy ‘Treat People Well,’ Robert DeFalco has grown into a successful real estate agency led by a professional team of highly motivated real estate associates with experience in residential, commercial, and new real estate development. For more information, please visit https://www.defalcorealty.com/ 

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