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Losing a job

I have lost a couple of regular maintenance jobs in the last month and that brings the total to 3 in the 5 years I have been doing this job. One didn't give a reason but the other two said that they were not happy with the work.  I know that logically I have hundreds of very happy customers over the years and can easily replace the lost jobs but just having one person say they are not happy bugs me for a few weeks.

How often do people loose a regular maintenance contract? Do you ever try and argue your case or just move on?

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        • PRO

          I absolutely don't agree. Someone once said to me. 'Start well but also remember to finish well'. There is nothing at all wrong with keeping good relations open with past customers. Who knows when their circumstances might change. When they decide that actually they do want to pay a little extra for a more professional person, that they made a mistake changing, that they are asked who to recommend and they dont recommend you. etc. Not telling anyone how to run their business, we each do our own things in our own way. I just feel that every single opportunity is an opportunity that shouldn't be left untapped

          • PRO
            What works for you is fine.
            I'm not spending time on someone who does not value my time. That was this mornings conversation and it was unpleasant but I feel better
          • PRO

            I think it's wasted energy looking back in business unless its to learn from a mistake its not progressive enough for me i need to focus on the present and the needs of current customers and new opportunity , once an arrangement has ended then that's closure , i don't feel its a victory or compliment to get an ex customer contacting me who pulled the rug to go elsewhere because they found someone cheaper . 

            I was recently contacted by an ex customer who went elsewhere because i couldn't fit them in at short notice , it had nothing to do with rates but availability , I liked the garden and the clients so when they rang to say the two gardeners they used were not up to my standard would i create a slot in my schedule i instantly agreed but it's different to customers who go bargain hunting and taking great delight in telling you they found someone cheaper when i am not even that expensive .

  • PRO

    I think there are differeing business perspectives here.

    For a mowing / maintenance round which is full, established and it's a case of quickly one in one out, there is no need for "chasing" or keeping "in touch" or whatever you want to call it with perceived bad or ex customers. Indeed, the ladder method describe herein in the BOG would actively promote identifying  / dropping the bad customers each year and replacing with good as a method of keeping ahead in various metrics.

    However, for growing organisations or lawn care it's different. We have capacity to take them back, and for us, assuming they have seen the error in their ways, they are a good sell as presumably alternative methods have produced poor results. Marketing can be a simple email just to check in with them or an offer etc.

    So, not one size fits all, and both views are valid approaches as both meet different business needs.

  • PRO
    No one was suggesting burning bridges. Leave the client professionally and in future ( ie the next natural cycle ) they may well return and its down to the individual business if they wish to take them on again.

    However, if they've left previously casting aspersions on your ability / integrity - why would you waste time ?
  • PRO

    absolutely. we have flags in the system when they leave. We set as to whether to call / contact the following year or not! Are they disputive, or just in financial woes or just we don't know etc. As you say, there are some that are gone and you're happy that it's so. Others you're polite to and keep in touch. I'm just saying that threshold will be different for different organisations.

    • PRO
      Sorry Andrew, wasn't questioning your comments - more the comments two or three before. It didn't indent !
      • PRO

        Thanks Gary it's okay I was agreeing with Andrew , I think he nailed it , It makes complete sense . (-:

    • PRO

      I can accept this with the growing organisations and established organisations , That is a very good analogy Andrew they don't take it personally and they keep ex customers on their contact / marketing list .   

      For a small gardening round where bonds form over cups of tea and Christmas cards get exchanged it hits harder it can effect your self esteem if its sudden and there is confusion if you are only given a vague explanation or no explanation , you have to pick yourself up and move on , reorganise your round , I wouldn't want to get burned twice by that same customer . 

      Larger organisations would probably hold a blacklist of previous non payers which would probably be their reason for not entertaining an ex customer . 

      both situations involve commercial decisions but one involves emotions and i think you have to detach yourself otherwise it will be like a monkey on your back with self doubt creeping in .

  • PRO

    When I first started I used to ask why when a customer left, I found that the ones who did answer never really told the truth but I would say 95% it's down to price/budget/personal cutbacks etc. 

    Of the few that complained about things I even offer to try to resolve their issues for free. Again no reply which I could never understand but  their initial complaint again when you actually look at that they are saying is all down to price.

    So I gave up sending a survey or asking why a long time ago. Now when they no longer require my services I just reply with a thank you for your past business and good luck for the future.

    I try not to get too hung up anymore about people leaving. On the ones that have left and want me back I still charge my normal price and don't discount.

    There are obviously some customers that have gone and I'm glad as well as customers I no longer whish to service as they are more hassle than they are worth.

    There are more customers around the corner.

    when I went VAT registered this year it certainly sorted the wheat from the chaff, I lost a load and it was a right kink in the knickers. But as I went VAT registered in the spring I managed to claw my customer numbers back and have a very slight increase over last year.

    So yes I get a little miffed when they leave but I don't dwell anymore no matter how good a customer is because I know the replacement is just round the corner.

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