Full Version: Fire Your Customers!

From: Stunt Engraver (DGL) [#1]
 6 Feb 2005

Although I've been an engraver for thirty-four years, I've been self-employed for the past 15 years. Fighting the stigma of being a home-based business, and given my lack of marketing expertise, I've had to work very hard at developing a loyal customer base.

You would think after all the hard work I've put into obtaining clients, I wouldn't want to lose a single one. There's a lot of truth to that, but there's also another side to client retention.

Although a very rare occurence, I've actually had to "fire" a few customers. It's been necessary to the survival and efficient running of my business. I have very few "bad apples" in my customer base. Occasionally some of the regular customers become accustomed to my laid back nature and see my casual approach to business as a weakness, which begs to be taken advantage of.

Surprisingly, these "bad apples" have, without exception, been businesses for whom I provide wholesale services. These businesses come to rely upon my high quality work and quick turnaround, to provide their business with a wider array of services and products than they could offer without my help.

The common scenario leading up to the issuance of their "pink slips," has been their providing me with a steady supply of work, then slowly, but surely, beginning to lag in payment.

I'm very understanding, and realize that even with the best of companies, flexibility is sometimes in order, and truely appreciated by the store owners. If the tardy payments are only occasional, I'll ride through a tough time with a customer.

It's when the slow payment becomes an unbreakable pattern, and no amount of talking affects a change, the "firings" are unavoidable.

Here's the line of logic that's been their downfall:

"I'm providing the guy with a steady stream of work, which he won't want to jeopardize, even if I make him wait for payment."

Here's my line of logic:

"I'm providing services they can't offer without me, and the notion of working for half price and then having to wait until they decide I'm worth paying, is totally unacceptable."

When faced with the prospect of losing my services, some companies have given me the much-deserved respect they weren't originally offering, and snap to attention, in order to keep me from bailing on them.

The other result is, a customer will pay what they owe, then refuse to have anything to do with me, which couldn't be more perfect.

I don't have to deal with unnecessary aggravation, I'm freeing up valuable time, in which I can tend to a growing number of new clients who are eager to have me work with them to make their businesses more versatile and profitable.

Next time you're having an ongoing problem with a customer, FIRE THEM! Make room for the preferred clients. You'll be happy you did.

David "The Stunt Engraver" Lavaneri
DGL Engraving
Port Hueneme, CA

EDITED: 6 Feb 2005 by DGL

From: sunny (SUNSHINE5555) [#2]
 6 Feb 2005
To: Stunt Engraver (DGL) [#1] 6 Feb 2005

I agree with you. We fired what could have been a lucrative account for us. We worked with them for 6 mos, always with the promise that they would be sending us a contract in the next few days. This was to do the logo for an organization, be the sole supplier to sell clothing items with that logo, and do their livestock show and horse show each year. Finally just 2 1/2 mos before the first show, I finally sent them an ultimatum. Get me the logo, a contract and a list of awards that they needed. I didn't get any of the above and was told that maybe they need to go with someone local.

Well, come to find out, while they were promising us a contract, they were taking bids from other companies and promising a local company the same thing. They ended up giving the contract back to the old company that was causing them so much grief. Needless to say, if anyone asks, I tell them how this organization is to deal with and how unethical they are.

The moral, I should have been suspicious when the the contract didn't arrive when promised back last spring and fired them then.

From: Pete (AWARDMASTERS) [#3]
 6 Feb 2005
To: sunny (SUNSHINE5555) [#2] 6 Feb 2005

You guys have firing and quiting confused, but that's ok it is perfectly alright to make a customer quit.

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