Strengthen Your Company By Firing Unreasonable Clients

Posted on April 1, 1998 by Tom Mazza, Contributing Editor

Strengthen your company and improve that all-important bottom line by occasionally firing unreasonable clients. Some entrepreneurs believe if you overwhelm a client, even an unreasonable client, with a fantastic product and great service, he or she will eventually come around. I disagree.

The key to running a successful limousine service is to establish a system. There has to be an accepted practice of executing everything, from answering the phone to placing the client’s luggage in the vestibule of his or her home. Some business owners say that they cater specifically to the wants and needs of each individual client. If this is your business philosophy, you are limiting your growth potential, as well as driving your employees crazy.

Let’s assume your gross profit is $32 on an airport transfer. Your goal should be about 150 airport trips per month, or approximately five per day. The current company system says your chauffeur must be at the client’s home 10 minutes early for drop-offs and at the baggage claim equipped with a sign for pickups.

Your chauffeurs are well trained and follow a strict dress code. Company vehicles are checked and re-checked to ensure quality. The phone is answered by a staff person from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. every day. Payment is immediate by cash, check, or credit card, or net 30 days for corporate accounts. More than 95 percent of your clients are comfortable with this system.

Nonetheless, what happens when a select few clients consistently create havoc with your system? A small percentage of your monthly trips may be stressing every person in your organization. These clients insist upon forcing drivers to race unsafely to the airport. They refuse to immediately book their return trips. Instead, they call while their plane is en route. You’re forced to juggle the activities of your entire staff for one client.

Further, these difficult clients call at midnight screaming to make reservations. They are consistently rude to your staff. Finally, they are always delinquent with payments.

Well, you are better off firing this small percentage of clients. Work hard to replace them with clients who will appreciate your staff’s exemplary service.

The $32 profit you realize on the airport trip is fair and reasonable if the client is safely tucked into your system. However, once he or she deviates from your system, the $32 is not worth the aggravation. This small percentage of your business monopolizes a disproportionate amount of your time and prevents your company from growth. Those clients also hurt the morale of your staff and disrupt the 95 percent of the clients who deserve your attention.

A company grows by integrating good clients and quality employees into a sound system. If you focus attention on the 95 percent of your clients that can be satisfied, you will discover how quickly your company can grow.

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