If you have been in business for a while, you may have had to deal with a difficult customer who refuses to pay, drags the job out so that it eventually becomes unprofitable, or keeps you up at night because of the way they behave and treat you personally.
Every trade or construction business will deal with difficult clients at some point in time. Take a look at these red flags that someone might turn into a problem client…
1. Extreme haggling over price
This type of customer may also haggle right from the initial interaction, and continually suggest that other companies are prepared to undertake the job at a cheaper rate. Anyone who quibbles over the price from the very start will also quibble about the price at the end. Whilst quality clients accept that you will offer great value and are prepared to pay for it.
2. They promise you future work
This category of customer talks a great deal. They may present you with an opportunity by saying “if you do a great job on this project, there will be plenty of work for you in the future”. Take this with a grain of salt and treat each project for its merits.
3. They are disorganised
Often, difficult customers will be late for meetings, appear to be missing vital information and will continuously drain your resources. Unless they can dramatically change their behaviour, this may be a sign of things to come and may cost you hours, if not days of lost profits in the future.
4. Unrealistic deadlines
From project commencement, this customer expects you to drop everything for them, will contact you 24 hours, 7 days a week regarding minor details and assume you will be present as an emergency call out. A customer expecting you to drop everything for them from the beginning may be an indication of their future behaviour.
5. They complain about other trades
As in the age-old adage, what Peter says about Paul, actually reveals a lot about Peter. So if the customer complains and moans about other trade businesses, it is highly likely that you too will be thrown into the mix and mentioned.
6. They won’t put things in writing
To protect yourself and also the client, it is important that a work agreement or contract is in place that clarifies all the expectations of the job. This includes how to handle variations, payment, time-frames and also delays. If a customer is not prepared to sign anything from commencement, or is unwilling to put variations in writing, then the lack of action may backfire in the future.
7. Trust your intuition
Sometimes it may be logical to proceed with a customer, yet you have a sense or feeling that this particular client may prove to be difficult in the future. Trust your instincts when making a decision. You cannot lose money on jobs you do not take.
Unfortunately, many trades continuously contend with difficult customers. Let this article guide you with how to effectively deal with customers to ultimately create a hassle-free business.
For further support on how to deal with late or non-paying customers contact PROTRADE United on 1300 767 774.