Saturday, 19 May 2012

Saturday Story Time – Firing clients

She was the strangest client I’ve ever had. She had medical conditions that necessitated medical marijuana treatments; although I’m not so sure she wouldn’t have partaken voluntarily.  She went almost everywhere with her annoying little dog named Elvis.  At any given time she would have something on layaway.  Without keeping receipts or any sort of log, she always claimed to know exactly what she had paid and what was owing.

One day her estimation of what she had paid on her current layaway was $20 over our records.  She spent $1,000 to $1,500 per year on jewellery, she was a bit emotionally unstable, so the owner begrudgingly gave-in on the $20.  But it rankled.  We put-up with a lot of her quirks, but this one just drove him crazy.  From that day forward, every time she needed repair-work or sizings, he charged her $10 to $20 extra in order to recoup the shortfall. 

The downside of having a good database and keeping in contact with your clients is that you sometimes forget to exclude people when you do a mass mailing.  When I moved downtown to Diamori, a luxury jewellery boutique in Edmonton, she was included in our invitation to follow.  And she did.  My new owner told me in no uncertain terms to get rid of her and her dog.  I had to fire her as a client.  What he didn’t know is that we continued to do some service work for her that I picked-up and hand-delivered.

There are some clients that aren’t worth having.  They can cost you money.  They can discourage other business.  They can distract you from a more profitable use of time.  As loyal and essentially harmless as she was, I had to refer her to another jeweller.  In the end it would be in her best interest; as the product that we carried downtown was not exactly in her “wheelhouse.”

My wish for you is that you’ll never have to fire a perfectly nice (although highly quirky) client.  It’s not a lot of fun, but lesson #1 is; you are doing someone a favor by encouraging them to deal with a jeweller who can and will cater to their unique needs.  The second lesson is; if your primary brand focus changes, it may move you away from certain loyal clients.

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