Don’t panic and think that we’ve gone right off the rails, here – we still want to help you to give your customers the best experience possible. But one thing we’ve noticed over the years of working closely with businesses is that “the customer is always right” is almost exclusively used by grumpy customers, trying to shame a company into to giving them what they want (even though sometimes what they want is unreasonable, nonsensical, or actually physically impossible). As a business owner, sometimes the best way to move forward is to grin and bear it. Other times it’s in your best interest to say “no” even though it seems counter intuitive – and kind of terrifying – to turn down money.
Taking on the wrong customer can be a big mistake for your business, especially if larger sales from a smaller number of quality clients is your bread and butter. To help you spend less time agonizing over potential clients and more time growing your business, we’ve put together a guide to help you take on the customers who are right for your company.
Seven Signs It’s Just Not Going to Work Out
1. We just don’t want the same things.
The OG team is all about company values, and there’s a reason for it. When you work so hard to define your message and mission, toil over building your brand and your product, and produce a service and customer experience that you’re proud to provide, the last thing you want is a client whose values don’t align with any of it. If an important part of your business identity is supporting local environmental charities and being as green as possible, working with a client who produces tons of garbage and is wasteful with paper is a pretty fundamental difference. Don’t compromise the most important parts of your identity to take on a customer who doesn’t share them; diluting your own effectiveness and going against your core values to take on one extra client won’t pay off in the long run.
2. It’s not me, it’s you.
We trust our gut instinct in every other facet of our lives, so take it into consideration in your business dealings. If your “spidey” sense is tingling about a potential client, take the time to stop and think about it. That weird feeling you get apparently at random is really finely tuned radar for danger that has kept humans safe since the beginning of time. While it is exceptionally unlikely that it will save you from being mauled by a sabre-toothed tiger when you leave your cave in this day and age, it is very likely to save you from a shady customer who could cost your business time and money. First impressions and gut feelings guide the majority of your daily decisions, so using them as part of your assessment of new clients is a good idea.
3. You just don’t treat me right.
You would never hire an employee who acts unprofessional or disrespectful towards you. You wouldn’t date someone like that, go jogging with them, invite them into your home to clean your carpets, or go out for a latte with them. So why would it be okay to consider them as a valued client? Someone who doesn’t trust your abilities, who spends too much time complaining about your process or your prices, or who doesn’t listen to your ideas and recommendations is just not right for you. You can do better! Long term customers who build a trusting relationship with your business are infinitely more profitable, and are way more fun to work with. You didn’t start your business to spend your days feeling put down and dreading meetings, so say no to a disrespectful client to preserve your sanity and the great performance that comes with loving your work.
4. You don’t appreciate what I have to offer.
Quote shopping is a fact of life. We all do it, checking endless websites against Amazon to make sure we get the absolute best price on that set of coasters with hilarious dog quotes. Even though we all desire the best price, most people are also willing to pay a bit more for the quality of the product and the experience. You are awesome at what you do, and you’ve built a company that reflects that expertise. If a new client is focused solely on getting the absolute lowest price, they’re not seeing what you have to offer as worth the money. This type of disloyal client is likely to jump ship as soon as they find a Groupon, so expending time and energy to try to keep them around while losing money is an exercise in frustration. Save yourself the hassle and work with customers who are happy with your prices and your services; they’ll keep coming back because they know you’re worth it.
5. You’ve got the wrong idea about me.
Sometimes, clients do see the value in your services and your business. They like what you’re doing, they totally get you, and they’re ready to work with you…and when they want what you have to offer, they also request a product or a service that you don’t offer. New challenges are part of growing a business, but it is important to make sure that what you’re being asked to do is something that you’re comfortable tackling. If the deal hinges on doing something that will stretch you financially thin, lies way outside your expertise, or you’re just not equipped to handle, it can be better to say no rather than throw your entire operation into turmoil.
6. Why buy the cow?
Free samples, e-books and articles, advice or quotes can be an effective way to attract new business. But if a new client is treating you like a sample demonstrator at Costco, it’s time to re-evaluate the cost of acquisition. If they keep coming back for just one more little paper cup full of granola (for their friend! In the next aisle! Who’ll just loooove it!) eventually, you’re going to give your whole box of organic, gluten-free acai berry deliciousness away. And that stuff is expensive. Asking for a commitment or turning away a client after a certain point preserves the value of your work, and doesn’t skew later expectations because you’ve already given away amazing work for free.
7. I just can’t give you what you want.
If a big new client comes along with equally big requests, the opportunity may not be right for you. New employees, training costs, upfront capital, material costs, or a new location could all be required to meet the commitment, and could all spiral the growth of your company out of control. While it’s exciting and flattering to be wanted, making sure that you’re prepared for quick growth is important. In a day and age where start-ups can suddenly be given gigantic valuations, orders, and expand exponentially, we hear about spectacular failures on a daily basis. By embracing clients who will be with you during controlled growth for your company, you’ll never find yourself in a successful position where rapid growth hasn’t made your business unprofitable and unmanageable.
Watch Mad Men’s Don Draper kick the Jantzen people out of his office
We certainly aren’t recommending the Don Draper approach to fire a client and toss them from your office but it’s good for a laugh!
Enjoy what you do, and who you do it with! By knowing the goals and values of your business inside out, you’ll know which customers are the perfect match for your company’s success.
Give the Original Ginger team a call if you want to discover your story, or tell it even better; we’ll help you every step of the way. Call us Toll Free 1.855.298.8650 to start the conversation.