In the past two weeks I’ve been sharing my vision for how you should treat the customers that walk through your door and those that hold the door open. Life is so much better when we treat all the people who are our customers, and those who service our customers, like they were gold. But what if one of our customers isn’t really our customer?
So many businesses have customers who may leave the fold, either because they’re not within the geography that a business services well or because whatever the customer needs, they only need once. Or, the business just didn’t make that customer happy and they go elsewhere.
But each business should also have a lot of repeat customers. These can be the best kind because they keep coming back so your marketing costs are lower, and they’re happy with whatever you’re selling so they likely tell others.
There is another kind of repeat customer; however. The kind you don’t want coming back. I bet you can think of these people immediately.
Every business has repeat customers who either suck a tremendous amount of life out of the business or actually cost more than they bring in. Or they damage your reputation.
For example, when I ran a resort we had one customer who paid cash and always brought several others with him. Ordinarily this would be a great thing, but this customer was not within our normal demographics, was loud and very often rather inebriated. Generally their need for our service was created by being heavily over served at a bar within stumbling distance.
His presence at our property made the other paying customers wonder if they should be there at all, frankly. So we fired him as a customer.
Knowing when a customer is actually bad for business is a keen skill, but one that every business owner should master. While we all want the business from every customer we can handle, sometimes some customers actually have a negative impact.
For example, customers who are so demanding that you can’t then service the other customers in the business. Or ones who make unreasonable demands and completely occupy your focus. Also, customers that are disruptive or make other customers uneasy.
Maybe it’s the Harley-looking guy at a high-end hair salon, or the high-end hair salon guy at a Harley dealer.
Your business has a brand, a character that defines the business both to the team that serves it and to the customers who patronize it. For example, Smith & Wesson doesn’t build children’s toys and Mattel doesn’t build real guns. Harley-Davidson doesn’t build scooters and Vespas don’t rumble. This is why General Motors has so many divisions that build vehicles for different people, each brand (Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, GMC) appeals to a specific type of customer.
On the subject of cars, in the 1960s John Lennon had his Rolls Royce painted up like a gypsy wagon. This immediately meant that he changed the image of his car and, as a famous person, actually altered the vehicle brand itself. The company had spent decades honing a brand of conservative, ultra-luxurious and conservative vehicles. This was completely outside that image and really did do damage to the brand.
There was nothing Rolls Royce could do about Lennon’s transformation of the car, but you can bet they were reticent about ever selling him one of their cars again.
While my blog is almost always about ways to get more customers, this time it’s about making sure you get the right customers. While all customers deserve to be treated like gold, sometimes there are those who just aren’t worth the money they bring you, even when they are customers who might bring you a lot of business.
By letting these customers go you will have more time and energy to find customers who really do bring value to your business and also appreciate the qualities of the products or services that you have to offer. Which gives you the time to improve what you deliver to your customers. So firing the occasional customer can really be in your businesses’ best interest.