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Once in a while, you get a feeling deep in your gut that things just aren’t right; that a relationship you are in is heading down the wrong path and a change is needed.
You say “yes” to requests a few too many times, instantly realizing after giving the affirmative that you were wrong. You should have said “no” as that would be better for you.
You dwell on the issue, sometimes agonize over it, and eventually… hold on a second! Are we talking about marriage?
I’m talking about that relationship you have built with your customers. Or clients. Whatever you decide to call them. You see them called either customers or clients in the various articles of Cleanfax depending on the mood of the author.
Qualities of customers
When you think about your relationship with your customers, it can be broke down into many categories, but for now, I’d like to consider just three.
It’s delicate because it is easily broken or damaged. I like the quote I’ve seen from time to time, “It takes years to win a customer and only seconds to lose one.” A customer can be the most unforgiving creature walking on the face of the planet. If you have a delicate customer, and an appointment is made to use your services, you might toss and turn the night before (if you are the one doing the job) or you will spend a lot of time thinking about the best employee to send into that lion’s den.
It’s fragile because it is flimsy. It’s easily destroyed. That sounds like delicate as well, and maybe I’m repeating myself, but there is a subtle difference. You can usually work with delicate, but with fragile, you sometimes have no idea what’s going to happen next. That sweet grandmotherly customer who leaves you a platter of cookies on the counter suddenly has a meltdown with some very minor issue after a regular carpet cleaning. One I remember was a customer of mine who didn’t like the square pattern my blocks left under a coffee table in her living room. If you want to hear that story, give me a call.
It’s difficult because it takes a lot of effort or skill to accomplish, deal with or understand. Now, that may be a good definition of most customers, right? You spend a ton of energy making sure your 100, 500 or however many customers you have are taken care of, are always happy and never have a thought of abandoning you for a cheaper company. You overcome one challenge and another pops up. Want to hear cleaning or restoration business owners talk about this? Just bring up Yelp or Angie’s List reviews, and the floodgates are wide open.
It’s your business. You make the rules. You create the company playbook and everyone has to get on board with the game plan or you lose. We might say this more about our employees, but in a sense, your customers have to play by your rules as well or… you can let them go. That’s a very difficult task to do since most of our efforts are spent looking for new customers, trying to build a client list that is valuable and profitable.
You need to sleep at night. Weeding out the occasional, troublesome customer who denies you of that can become someone else’s nightmare.
“Sorry. It's just not working out” can be very welcome words to your employees… as long as it isn’t about them.