Hard to do: Businesses may need to break up with customers

by Dallas Maids - July 19, 2018

Fire Bad Customers

— AP article links —

Associated Press         Inc.        USA Today        Washington Post


Recently the owner of Dallas Maids was quoted in an Associated Press article entitle “Hard to do: Businesses may need to break up with customers” about why firing difficult customers can improve a business’s services. It was subsequently published in The Washington Post, Inc.com, USA Today, and MSN.com:

Greg Shepard, who owns Dallas Maids, a cleaning service, begins by saying, “I really want to keep you as a customer,” and outlines what he and the person need to do to keep working together. But he isn’t sorry when an unhappy customer chooses to move on.

Shepard recalls a time when a staffer was in a car accident en route to a job, and her replacement couldn’t arrive until three hours later. The angry homeowner demanded that Shepard promise it would never happen again.

“We’re going to make every effort, but if something out of our control happens, we can’t do that,” he told the customer. She decided to find another cleaning service.

Firing difficult clients allows businesses to provide better services. Therefore as a business owner, you owe it to your good customers to fire the bad ones.

How do I determine who to let go? The 98/2 rule: 2% of customers are responsible for 98% of the problems.

  • Letting the 2% go allows your employees to reallocate their time to better serve the other 98%;, your good customers.
  • Letting go the bad 2% improves employee moral 98%. Happy employees leads to consistent, quality services while preventing costly turnover.
  • Letting the 2% go just makes your life so much better

When a customer is continually taking up my staff’s time (and patience) with superfluous hassles and complaints, then it’s time to find the best way to fire them. Each instance varies because difficult customers think differently. For example, a few weeks ago we had a client whose lack of empathy and inability to be reasonable had gone too far. Googling “symptoms”, “disorder”, along with how she acted brought up narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). They do not handle rejection well and thrive an adulation. Therefore I listed a few reasonable items that my business needed to continue serving her while heaping praise upon her (I’m so happy to have her as a customer… I would hate to lose her… etc). I wanted her to leave on her own volition less I risk a vindictive online review. As expected, my reasonable list of items were not reasonable to her, so she left on her terms. My office staff were ecstatic.

I’ve never regretted any customer we’ve had to let go. It’s simply better business to avoid toxic persons. It makes my employee’s lives much better and if I take care of my staff, they will take care of my customers!



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