Biz Tips: Fire who?

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by Jim Hinshaw

 Question for this month is…

If my company decides to “fire” one of my customers, what do you recommend as the best approach in letting them know??

Great question!  First let’s talk just for a moment about the whole concept of firing a customer.  Some people are just hard to please.  And I read recently that 10-15% of the population buy strictly on price.  It can be hard to be the lowest price in town.  That title doesn’t stay with one company long.  As soon as you roll out a cheap price, say $1200 for a tankless water heater.  Not installed, but still a low price, it gets all over town.  And amazing as it may sound, there will be someone who looks at that and says, I can beat that price.  If you Google tankless water heater you will find them for $1127, even $395.  The competition tries to get the customer hooked, then make it up in extras.

I digress.  So you cannot be the low price leader for long.  And if 15% are buying on price, some of those will not pay you for the training you provide for the techs, the response time you give to those with a problem on the week-end, that sort of thing.  I just saw a post on a discussion board about a customer that told the salesman not to try to meet with them face to face.  She just wanted his best price, she would compare on her terms.  It may be that you are wasting your time trying to sell someone who buys strictly on price.

So, let’s go with the concept that it is not only a good idea, it is an absolute necessity to fire a customer from time to time.  How do you do that, and should you be gentle, or is it OK to take off the boxing gloves.  You see, when a boxer wants to really fight, he takes off the gloves.  I saw that in a Rocky movie.

I believe that you must be polite, as much as it may hurt.  We may want to say, “why don’t you and your little problem go down the street and talk to someone who cares?”  but that may not be in your best interest.  If you irritate a price shopper, they may take pleasure in spreading stories about your company.  In fact, they may even tell a lie!

So I would have a polite way to separate yourself.  Try this: Is the pricing the most important consideration in making this decision?  If so, we will not be the lowest price.  There are other companies that operate differently, and work on different principles than ours.

I believe it helps to blame it on someone else.  In this case, try using this logic.  Our customers tell us they want more than the lowest price.  They want techs that are trained, up to date on codes and regulations, have the ability to respond after hours, that sort of thing.  Not saying anything negative, but we have built a company that operates at a higher plane than most, and our customers enjoy that.

So we are not trying to be the low cost provider.  Other companies have the ability to respond to pricing levels that we do not offer, it may be that they can help you with your budget needs.

See, don’t say that it is stupid to buy this sort of product on price, using the word stupid in a sentence with a customer is never a good idea.  Just let them know you have a system in place to meet customer needs, and your company is set up to respond whenever the problem occurs, solving the problem fast and with accuracy.  The low price leaders cannot do what you can do, you choose not to do what they do.

Here is a final thought, and why I don’t want to burn a bridge.  They may try the cheap guy, then find out he is a jerk.  And a dumb jerk at that.  He may get into trouble on their job, they may actually come back to you to ask for help.  Help them, I made a lot of money in the day fixing others mistakes.  If you want to see dumb jerk type jobs, go to , it is stunning.  Some people will really go the extra mile to cut corners.  Thanks for listening, we’ll talk later.

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