Slow Death

August 26, 2011

By Matt Michel

Getting ready for a big trade show or home show is always a fire drill. Things always come up at the last minute. In my company, I'm the cause of most of the problems. I drive my staff crazy with new ideas in the weeks preceding a show. One of the ideas this year was a big new banner.

This isn't your ordinary banner. It's big. It has to be special ordered. Fortunately, we had plenty of time... we thought.

The banner company was extremely difficult to work with. I was trying hard to give them money, but they just didn't want to take it. Everyone in our company who dealt with them got frustrated, fast. Finally, I gave up and cancelled the order. Ironically, this was the only time the company showed any degree of responsiveness. I got the idea that they cancelled a lot of orders.

Because of the time wasted with the banner company, it's now Panicville. I called a local sign company. They were glad to take my money and would happily meet my deadline, for a price. The local sign company cost a lot more, but the employees worked hard to make things easy for me.

I bet the local sign company makes three or four times the gross profit as the banner company. Yet, they probably invested less overall management time being helpful than the banner company spent in a state of conflict.

Except for monopolies, no company will remain hard to do business with for very long. That's because difficult companies won't be doing business for very long.

Companies that make things hard for customers are dying a slow death. Often the principals don't even realize it.

How about you?
--Do you make it easy for customers to pay?
--Do you accept all major credit cards? Do you offer financing?
--Do you offer emergency service over a weekend? Do you answer the phones after hours?
--Do you have a website with information about your policies, hours of operation, and contact options?
--Do you let homeowners schedule service online?
--Do you give customers a short appointment window so your customer doesn't need to take off work for a full day?
--Do you let people know how much longer they must wait for your truck to arrive?
--Do you call immediately before dispatching, so the customer will know to be ready?

Lots of competitors want your customers. Don't make it easy for a competitor by being difficult for your customers. Don't die a slow death.

Source: Comanche Marketing. Reprinted by permission.
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Copyright © 2009 Matt Michel

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