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How To Fire A Customer

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Feel free to reprint this article in its entirety in your
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How To Fire A Customer

-- by Wayne M. Davies

Copyright 2003 Wayne M. Davies Inc.


It must be Tax Season. How do I know?

I'm swamped with work.

And I just fired a client. Again.

It happens every Tax Season -- I don't like to do it, but
it's something that just has to be done every now and then.

Let me explain.

First, let's define our terms. I use the word "client" to
describe the people that pay for my tax services. You may
use the word "customer" or "patient" or "subscriber".

Ya' know, whoever buys what you sell.

Second, let's get something straight here. When you own your
own business, you get to call the shots. It's your
business, so you get to do things your way.

That's how I see it, anyway.

So I have certain rules that my clients must follow.
Policies, procedures -- the way things are done around here.

Example: I prepare tax returns in the order received. First
come, first served. Fair enough? I don't know any other way
to do it.

So last week a client comes in and says, "Can you please
'put a rush' on my return. I really have to get it filed
right away. My ex-wife and I don't have a written agreement
re: who gets to claim our children as dependents. So whoever
files first gets to claim them."

"Last year I didn't file first, but I went ahead and claimed
the kids anyway. So the IRS rejected the return. My refund
was delayed. I'd really like to avoid all that mess this
year. I know my ex hasn't filed yet, but she told me
she plans to do so within a few days. So I need you to do my
return right away -- I really want to stick it to my
ex this year!"

Here was my response.

"I'm sorry Mr. Client. Normal turn-around time for a return
is 3-4 weeks. When you bring me your return, you just got in
line. You don't get to go to the front of the line at the
grocery store, do you? And you don't get to go to the front
of the line here, either."

"The fact that you and your ex-wife didn't put something in
writing about this doesn't give you the right to expect me
to treat you different than any other client. Your problem
doesn't become my emergency."

[NOTE: most divorced people put this kind of thing in
writing, usually as part of the divorce agreement.]

Mr. Client didn't like my answer and began to plead his case
more fervently. He became unreasonable. He wanted me
to stop what I was doing and do his return immediately.
I finally just told him, "You need to find a new accountant.
I'm not in a position to provide the type of service you're
looking for."

(There are plenty of tax prep firms in town that provide
faster service than me, and who offer services like
"rapid refund", etc. That's not what I'm about.)

I then politely escorted him to the door and told him it was
best that we terminate our relationship.

In your business, I'm sure you deal with unreasonable
requests on a regular basis, don't you? How far should you
go to provide superior customer service without compromising
your integrity or your sanity?

Sometimes it's a tough call. Here's a few guidelines.

1. When firing a customer, always remain calm and polite. No
need for a shouting match. Be firm yet pleasant.

2. Not sure what to say when confronted with this type of
situation? Sit down beforehand and write out 3 or 4 possible
scripts. Not sure how to say it? It may take some practice,
so practice! Stand in front of a mirror and rehearse how to
tell a customer that it's best he go elsewhere.

3. Do not focus on the lost revenue that results from firing
a bad customer. Focus on the resulting reduced stress and
the simple fact that you'll feel so much better knowing that
you won't have to deal with this jerk any more.

Think about how much time you'll save. Problem customers are
really a losing proposition, aren't they? You end up
spending so much time and energy putting out the fires they
cause, do you really make any money on them, when you factor
in the value of your time?

4. When business is slow, firing a customer can really be
hard to do. If you cannot afford to fire your problem
customers, then you need to take a hard look at your
marketing. If your marketing plan is producing a steady
stream of new customersArticle Submission, then getting rid of the bad apples
every now and then should not be a problem -- they will be
replaced soon enough with better customers.

Source: Free Articles from


Wayne M. Davies is author of the new eBook, "The Tax
Reduction Toolkit: 29 Little-Known Legal Loopholes That Will
Reduce Your Taxes By Thousands (For Small Business Owners
and Self-Employed People Only!) Don't file another tax
return until you visit:

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