Just like a perfect partner, some customers are perfect and some – not so much.
When it comes to customers, we typically run a “come one, come all” attitude towards business. We will work with anyone who is willing to work us, unlike dating where we become very particular about who we will accept. The reality is that not every customer is for us.
We are routinely asked, “Can you print this?”, “Can you make that?”, “How fast can you do it?” My reply is “Well, I’m not pushing a Bentley, so of course we will take the work.” In the early days, I would put in hours and hours to produce an invitation — paper samples, design samples, running proofs, running proofs, running proofs (you get the idea). I could have charged $5,000 for the 250 invitations and would still have lost money. Highly unlikely that customer will place future orders or be a referral source. Although very nice people, we should have sent them to an online supplier specialist.
Fortunately, there are customers who are oh so perfect. We have accounts that order from us every single day, tell us constantly how grateful they are for our service, and always pay their bills. That said, the concept that “I like the customers who like me” is the fastest way to lose money and go out of business. Since taking our lumps, we have created the profile of what we believe is our perfect customer.
Our ideal is an overworked purchasing department, facilities department or marketing team. A company with multiple locations across California — property management, credit unions, fast food chains, coffee franchises — who can simply click the “Forward” button and we take it from there. The reality is that most client relationships begin as a push-pull effort to match goals and needs with capabilities. Sometimes we can, sometimes we can’t. The better we are at listening and hearing, the more often the ideal customer shows up.
Oh, and one other thing. According to Grant Cordone (If You’re Not First, Your Last), the money is in the follow up. I would never have ended up marrying my wife if I had not followed up many, many, times. Customers are the same. This Covid-19 distancing period is the opportune time to get virtually closer to your “oh so perfect” clients. Follow up!