3 minute read

Well that certainly got your attention! The reality is quite different than the headline. It has been argued for years that “the customer is always right” but we all know better. If you are caught up in believing the mantra that your customer is always right, it means when they have an issue with you, they are saying, and you agree – you are wrong.




Yes, it’s possible that we could make a mistake. Our technicians or office staff could drop the ball and do something wrong. As business owners, we all understand that nobody is perfect, and we all make mistakes. If we are willing to recognize that we ALL make mistakes, then we also have to accept that customers and clients ALSO make mistakes.


We have analyzed many “issues” that my clients have experienced over the years.  It seems that most of the issues are a failure on the part of the contractor to establish the right expectations clearly, and properly. That usually happens because we don’t really want to tell them what may be considered “bad news.”

The simplest example is when they ask, “How long will it take to dry?” We might know because of the situation that five or six days is likely. What we say is “well, sometimes it will dry in 3 days, but it could take longer.”

You just set yourself up guaranteeing an unhappy customer! Tell them the truth.  Tell them the reality. Quit beating around the bush. They hear 3 days, and are OK, but you know it’s almost certain to take longer. You hope and pray they won’t hold you to the 3 days.  BUT… they do. And they are mad.


You might feel if you tell them the ‘truth,’ that they won’t want you to do the work. You are afraid of NO. You are scared that once they hear the truth, they’ll find someone else… (someone that will tell them what they want to hear!)


I think it’s only fair to say at this point that even when you and your staff do everything RIGHT, there are still slime balls in the world that operate every day looking for ways to cheat. When you tell them the truth, and they shop for someone that will tell them what they want to hear, FIRE THAT CUSTOMER.

As owners, it’s quite difficult to think about getting rid of a potential customer. We are wired to try to get every job. We are always thinking about our mortgage payment or payroll at the end of the week. It has been proven a thousand times over, that many times, the best job we don’t get, is the one we really didn’t want!


Collections, lawsuits, smeared reputation, and more are just a few reasons why you need to evaluate every potential job, consider appropriate expectations, and spell them out in writing.

Bottom line: not all customers are honest and legit. Some of them are just plain crooks. Be sure you and your staff have correctly set expectations, and them decide if you want that customer (or if you want to refer them to your competitor).

Sometimes it’s better to let your competitor be consumed by a problem customer. Let them waste their time, effort, money, and profit on a lousy client.

Author:  Beth Hinton  &  Dick Wagner

Beth:  719-240-4930       Dick:  419-202-6745