There’s good business. And then there’s bad business, the kind of business practices that will lose you customers and win you nothing but complaints and badmouthing.
If you want to grow your small business or even keep the clients and/or customers you have now, you never want to:
Not answer the phone
In a time when everyone seems to have a phone sticking out of their pocket, there’s no excuse for not answering a call, one way or another. In a meeting with a client or busy with tasks? That’s what secretaries, call forwarding or voice mail are for.
Customers are not like your Mom; they’re not going to keep calling even if you don’t pick up because they’re worried about you.
Need to use the customer’s tools or equipment
Showing up to take pictures and asking the customer for a camera or showing up to install a floor and asking your customer if he has a saw you can borrow.
People with real businesses and real expertise have their own tools.
Refuse to listen to clients or customers
You may have years of experience and enough certifications and awards to paper a whole wall of your office, and certainly know best. That’s why they hired you and it may be why they fire you if they feel you’re not hearing what they have to say and going to give them what they want.
Sure, blue is the “in” color this year. But if the client wants green, listen and adapt.
Leave a job unfinished
Do you expect a customer to be pleased with your work when the job isn’t done? Do you think a customer will be sure to praise your work to all her friends when you’ve left debris all over their kitchen or lawn? Really? Not likely.
Even when you’re really pressed to get to the next job, you need to push down the feeling, rearrange your schedule and make sure you get the job in front of you done right first.
Not try to fix a problem related to your product and/or service
Sometimes problems are truly things that you can do nothing about. But you can still listen to the customer’s complaint and, in the best case scenario, give them some action they can take.
If it’s in your purview, though, you need to make it right, as Mike Holmes says. It’s important in terms of future business and potential referrals.
Make inaccurate estimates
If you’re not good at estimating how much a particular product or service will cost and/or how long it will take to finish a job or project, you really need to work on this skill. Your estimate is part of what will win you the work.
Not being able to estimate the cost and time a job will take accurately breeds poor client relationships. Customers don’t see it as you being inaccurate. They see it as you lying to them.
Send out an assistant to do your job
Always keep in mind that clients have hired you, not an assistant or underling. They want you working on their case or project or job.
Depending on what you do, you can get away with having an assistant do some parts of a job as long as you clearly supervise that person and/or their work. But you can’t send the assistant out to do your job and expect a client to be happy. And sending out a poorly trained or incompetent assistant is suicidal business-wise.
Be incompetent – but pretend not to be
Misrepresenting your credentials and/or your abilities is not only a quick way to run yourself out of business but may also lead to criminal charges or being sued.
And it really doesn’t matter whether or not you had good intentions and were “just trying to help someone out” and saving them the cost and trouble of looking for who to hire. If you are not qualified to do something or have not done it before, you shouldn’t be doing it.
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