It’s not BIG to treat your customers like they’re small!

Another brief departure from the sales tips to let you know about a conversation I had with a friend of mine this week.

For weeks now he’s been telling me about a new wall he’s having built in his garden, and every time I see him I ask if he’s managed to get the thing built yet. And every time he tells me about how the builder can’t make it yet because he’s too busy…etc…etc…

“Is he the best builder in town?” I asked. “Because he must be with the amount of work he has to finish before he gets to you.”

If the waiting and broken promises alone wasn’t bad enough, there was one thing that our busy builder said to my friend that sent a shiver down me. He said: “I’ve got a lot of bigger jobs to get finished before I can do yours.”

WHAT??!! Just how much is wrong with that sentence for anybody to say to a customer?

For a start if Mr Builder is too BIG to do my little friend’s wall then don’t accept the work in the first place, because somewhere along the way he’s somehow (very cleverly) managed to engineer the balance of power in the customer/supplier relationship so that my friend now believes that the builder is doing him a FAVOUR by building his wall, because he is so busy!! (Is this something all builders learn in Building College? The art of making someone who is paying for services rendered feel like they have to be eternally grateful for them getting their trowel dirty!)

Seriously, telling a customer that you are too busy dealing with bigger customers to be able to deal with them within the time frame you originally told them is a cardinal sales and service sin of the highest order.

There are so many better ways to handle this situation –

  • Manage the customers expectations of when you’ll genuinely be able to fulfil your promises
  • If you are struggling to meet a deadline keep the customer in the loop
  • Don’t accept the work at all if you think you might not be able to deliver on time

I never thought I would have to write something like this because I thought it was such an obvious no-no I would never have to, but…hey, go figure!

PS – No builders were harmed in the writing of this blog!

PPS – Here’s another thing I probably don’t have to write, but not all builders are like this – I know some who give a great service and are a credit to their trade.

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