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"Fire Your Bad Customers"

by Dave Balch, "The Stay-at-Home CEO"ô

(c) 2002, A Few Good People, Inc.


Hereís a concept to consider: some customers just arenít worth the trouble. We work so hard to get customers, and then work so hard to keep them, itís hard to grasp the idea that we are better of WITHOUT some of them!

Letís face it; some people just donít "get it". They wonít be nice or reasonable, they need too much Ďhand-holdingí, or they haggle over everything. Lose Ďem! Tell them politely that they will be better off getting your product or service elsewhere.

A local auto repair shop diagnosed a clutch problem and did approximately $300 worth of repairs. About 2 weeks later the clutch failed when I was 80 miles from home, and I had to take it to a local Nissan dealer. They told me that the problem was one of the parts that had just been replaced.

When I took the paperwork and bad part into the local repair shop, he looked it over and took the position that he had no way of knowing whether the part in question was really bad or whether the part they gave me was, in fact, the part they had put in. I told him that I understood that but I didnít think that the dealer would have tried a blatant lie and, the dealerís factory part cost less than theirs. He mulled it over and decided to give me $150 credit because it certainly looked like something wasnít kosher and, besides, I was being reasonable and they didnít want to lose me as a customer. Just the previous week they had had a "screamer"; someone who had a problem and came in there yelling and screaming about it.

"I donít need that", he said. "I told them to take their business elsewhere."

Sometimes youíve got to Ďfireí your customers!

I know a graphic designer in New York who had a client that was very slow paying. In fact, on several occasions he even reduced their agreed-upon fee because of what he claimed were "delays" caused by my friend that were totally fabricated. He has asked her to do another project: she told him "no".

Some customers need to be Ďfiredí.

In my software business the customers typically installed the product on their corporate computer (not a PC, but a large "mainframe"). The software arrived on a tape and the process took about 2 hours. Some of them installed it with no help from me whatsoever; some of them needed help opening the box that the tape came in. The latter customers were usually the ones that needed to be Ďfiredí.

Itís important to define what you consider to be a "good" customer or a "bad" customer. When someone crosses the line, you have to decide whether that particular person is "worth the troubleí. Only you can make the call, but you may be surprised to realize that they arenít.

If so, send Ďem packiní. You canít please everyone, but you can wear yourself out trying to, so if the match isnít right you both will be better off if you sever the business relationship.

It only hurts for a second.

Then, a wave of relief will flood over you and youíll know you did the right thing.


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© Copyright 2003, A Few Good People, Inc.
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Twin Peaks, CA   92391
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