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Great points Chris. Nothing quite as satisfying as firing a problem customer (whether they realize they were fired or not)!
I understand the point being made, but I don’t necessarily fully agree. It seems (from reading multiple threads on WCR) like many on here are quick to “fire” a customer just because they looked at them the wrong way. Every customer is different and has different expectations. They are not all happy go lucky people, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve clean windows by my company. I can get over hurt feelings and clashing personalities, and still perform my job just as well for the next customer. After all, business isn’t supposed to be personal, right?
I don’t get satisfaction from firing customers. I get satisfaction from turning that difficult customer into a satisfied regular customer.
But again, I complety understand the point of the blog, and there are extreme situations. I’m certainly not saying I don’t have my own little black list.
I’m a bit bipolar on this subject.
Residential: I try not to fire customers. Even the ones that are a bit on the demanding / freebie / insane side are worth the time and effort. I think of it this way… if someone is paying me a large sum of money to provide a one day service in their home, they have every right to ask questions, nitpick (to an extent), and point out preexisting gaffs all they want. Being my first year in business, most of my resi clients call because either 1. Their old window cleaner dropped the ball or 2. they’ve never had their windows cleaned. I don’t fault them for being “curious” as to what I’m doing.
on the other hand…
Storefront: There’s only so many times (2, to be exact), I’m willing to chase a $10-$20 job down before I tell them to call me when they’re ready. I know during the slow season, storefront will be my lifeblood. Because of this I’d rather dump a whole bunch of “route rot” and spend the time selling storefronts that I can rely on.
I agree with this, you have to pick and choose your battles. Throw it up on the scale and weigh it, if you know what I mean…
I’ve only ‘fired’ a few customers during my WC career. They were at least to me unbearable to deal with anymore- as in routinely causing much wasted time by lack of preparation and schedule awareness, cancelling time after time, finding spots that are so miniscule and to [I]me[/I] insignificant or impossible for a normal human to even see after viewing from every angle, or delaying payment for months.
I’m trying to keep the delicate balance between optimizing profits with being appreciative and a little lenient toward my longest standing customers who have contributed to my ongoing success.
Awesome, I love the discussion. I should have worded it a bit different. I’m not saying to fire every customer that doesn’t fit into the perfect model. I’m just saying that it’s good to be picky when choosing who you work with. Once in a while it’s ok to let someone go.
It’s a great idea Chris. If we can find appreciative customers then why waste time on those that treat us like some kind of servant of follow us around every window and haggle over price or demand freebies. I have no desire to work for those people and since I have plenty of referrals and calls for new work I don’t have to. Maybe some guys do though so I see where they are stuck working for these kinds of people.
Well, there is no perfect customers as there is no perfect window cleaning
service. I do agree problem customers are not worth the stress.
I have not had many I have ‘fired’, but I have done it
Nothing will get to me like a condescending attitude. Out of thousands I
have only ‘fired’ 5-6 for being total a-holes. Not bad.
I will also fire a customer if their home is filthy. I will finish the job and
make a note to never come back in my log. Just a personal choice that
this country has been kind enough to grant me with
I have only fired two for this
My preference is never to fire any but I did not start my own business
to deal with such things.
Thankfully there are far more great people out there than a-holes.
I had to fire a entire chain of 99 cent stores in order to keep my sanity. I gave them 3 chances. I will never willingly work for anyone in their family unless i get paid an unreasonable amount of money up front and everything is in writing. And even then i won’t enjoy it. yes it was that bad!
My view of this issue is that if I do my job properly, the customer will have NOTHING to complain about, so I stop them from going there immediately. For the ones who shadow me, a bump or two, or stepping on them backing up, will cure that. I am a big guy at 6’5" and 270 lbs and I have “nudged” a customer or two from time to time, to get them out of the way.
I also understand getting old. I have a customer who was a long time lobbiest, and a big power player in Florida politics. He is retired, his children have graduated from college and have “important” jobs. They are never around. This fellow would be considered a PIA customer because of his constant interruptions and nit picking behavior. He is lonely. He was making million dollar decisions and now his biggest decision is what to have for dinner. I quickly realized how to “work” this fellow and now, he is a QUARTERLY exterior customer. He has referred more than 20 of his friends, one is a retired Florida Supreme Court Justice.
I won’t fire a customer until I have had a very candid conversation with them about the incident or behavior exhibited, and we come to a mutual agreement.
Tallahassee is a very small, clannish, southern town with a proud history and traditions. It is difficult to get into the gated communities here and I can’t afford to fire a customer I might need later on.
Well put, Mr. Bee. Some prudent psychology and fellow feeling go a long way.
Yes, we can never underestimate the importance of “keeping our sanity”. In today’s society it’s ok to spend thousands on counceling sessions and medication to keep our sanity. Maybe that wouldn’t be necessary if we eliminated some of the simple headaches first - like a stressful window cleaning job that doesn’t pay well.
Great post Paul. Thanks
90% of my customers are elderly,lonely people and can be challenging but dont ever give me a reason to stop going to their place. But in the other 10% i have several sour or sarcastic personalities and these i apply the “3strikes-and-you-are out” rule .Often there is a good reason as to why they dont already have a cleaner as they are skilled manipulaters/players . One guy in particular taught me a lesson,he got a kick out of phoning me up to tell me where he had hidden my money so he could then hide and watch me search for it (inside a book in his garage ,or under a particular stone on his rockery) and the money was never there . This taught me to go to “3 strikes” and never ever go back
I don’t like this philosophy. I have dumped customers and sometimes have regretted it, but when people that have worked for me don’t like someone I basically tell them tough. Customer is always right or I humour them. What happens if your company gets so big you never meet a customer? The closet you come to it is hearing cleaners and phone staff complaining? You’re going to give up a customer because a window cleaner doesn’t like them? Not me. Get as much money as you can while providing good service till the customer dumps you, thats a better philosophy. And sometimes you deserved to get dumped also… at least in my case.
I’ve dumped a lot more customers because I don’t like the money, the windows, or the lawn for various reasons. only a few times due to personality issues.
[QUOTE=Mike the Window Cleaner;89491]I don’t like this philosophy. I have dumped customers and sometimes have regretted it, but when people that have worked for me don’t like someone I basically tell them tough. Customer is always right or I humour them. What happens if your company gets so big you never meet a customer? The closet you come to it is hearing cleaners and phone staff complaining? You’re going to give up a customer because a window cleaner doesn’t like them? Not me. Get as much money as you can while providing good service till the customer dumps you, thats a better philosophy. And sometimes you deserved to get dumped also… at least in my case. I’ve dumped a lot more customers because I don’t like the money, the windows, or the lawn for various reasons. only a few times due to personality issues.
Mike, while it’s true you don’t want to lose touch with customer service/relations even if you get to where you are never or rarely meeting them in person, the big picture may be different for some here. I have had a few customers who cross the line of being “always right”. It gets to where the well-being of your company and personnel are more important than an arbitrary rule that you NEVER dump an irritating or ‘impossible’ customer. Unless you’re in business for a sense of acheivement instead of to make the most amount of money in the available time your workforce has.
A very wise man said there is “a time to give up as lost”. Some have higher tolerance thresholds than others. I’ve found that when I have stood my ground on a real tough situation where I might risk a bad rep. it’s worked out to my advantage. Maybe I’m just fortunate.
To some degree it depends on the economy in your area.
If you have plenty of work you are more likely to get rid of difficult customers.
You may run into a customer who negotiates a low price by saying outside only, for example, and then
claims it was included, and then tries to include washing the frames for the same price.
There is a limit to what you will accept.
Yes sir, the world is well populated with people who don’t want to pay for what they get