How to tell a customer NO!
Having a great relationship with our customers is what every trade business owner strives for.
However, in some situations we find ourselves bending over backwards to make the client happy.
From reducing our cost to tightening our deadlines, we’re always doing whatever we can to keep them around and turn them into repeat customers… But, when a customer who we’ve already bent so far for, tries to push the envelope just that little bit too far, here are some polite ways of managing the situation.
STEP 1. Calmly lay out the situation, like a timeline.
Explain back to them the process you would usually follow, and educate them on how you’ve made exceptions for them in order to suit their deadline and budgets.
Show them that you are on their side, and trying hard to fit their expectations.
STEP 2. Provide a solution that is within reason.
If they’re saying they need it done in half the time it usually takes, can they afford for you to add a subbie or additional tradie to the job?
Whilst the cost would go up, their deadline can be met.
STEP 3. Hold your ground!
If you’ve explained to them why it’s not possible and shared alternative practical solutions you need to stand strong in your positioning. Stay calm and collected, don’t blow your lid. It can be difficult but it’s crucial you maintain your cool.
Are they still not budging after you’ve tried all of the above? Politely say NO THANK YOU.
It’s okay to tell a customer NO, you don’t want their work, but there are GOOD and BAD ways to go about this. Going in with the right strategy to say NO without potentially damaging your trade businesses reputation is a fine line.
Option A: Use the good-old ‘I don’t have the time’ excuse.
Tell them, “Thank you for the opportunity Mr./Mrs. Jones, but unfortunately I am fully booked out until X date and won’t be able to fit in your job.”
This way, you’re telling the customer no, in a non-confronting way.
Option B: Be (politely) blunt.
Tell the customer how you really feel, in a professional manner.
“Thank you for the opportunity Mr./Mrs. Jones. Unfortunately I am unable to complete the work that you’ve asked me to quote on as your requests/requirements are out of my scope due to time/financial/X constraints.”
Some customers will try to push to see how far they can get you to budge. They do it all the time because they want the best deal they can get, and don’t care about the impacts it has on your business.
Whilst these aren’t your ideal customers in the first place, and you probably don’t want to work with them, sometimes you just get a bad apple and need to ensure you know how to deal with them!