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The Customer Focus Series – Part…okay, we quit counting

Posted by Amy Lynch on October 12, 2023
Kevin Nolan Speaking

Go Ahead and Star ‘em

It’s still true – last week I said that avoiding a problem is Plan A if at all possible. So, today I will give you one idea for how to enact Plan A, and you can adapt it to your business. I call it the Star System.

Star System. If we’ve worked with a customer in the past and it didn’t go well and there were problems, or we’d rather not work with them again, they’re starred in our system. That means they have a star placed before their name, which is noted and obvious in our database. Starred customers are not scheduled for new appointments and they are taken off our mailing list. 

If starred customers do call, they get referred to a salesperson. The salesperson is aware of them and will typically send them communication indicating we do not want to work for them. We’ve trained our salespeople to handle this. They send an email that says, 

“After careful consideration, we’ve decided to pass on the opportunity. Thank you very much.”

We try to be honest with people. We don’t want to go out and charge them a million dollars so that they won’t hire us. If you charge them a million dollars, they’ll post some negative comments online. So it’s better to be honest with them. 

We also don’t want to ignore them. I’ve done that, and if you ignore them, it gets problematic. They keep calling, and the next thing you know, you’re raised in a ruckus. So we have two lines that we use in this circumstance: 

  1. Suppose we’re not going to do work for a customer again. Our salespeople tell them, “After careful consideration, we’ve decided to pass on this opportunity. Thank you.” Say no more. 
  2. Our estimators have similar language scripted for them and ready to send out; they don’t have to make it up. They are trained to say, “Mr. Jones, I’m sorry, but the last time we worked together, it didn’t go well for Nolan Painting. After careful consideration, we’re going to pass on this opportunity.” Okay, say no more.

Nolan Painting has over 20,000 great customer contacts who are outstanding clients! We only have 1,000 starred customers – some of them still love us, but we don’t love them. 

Avoid this group! Make your lives easier and help your team; it is not worth the money.

Of course, the flip side is cultivating good clients. I wrote about that in the July 20th post, in case you missed it. Next week, I’ll talk a bit more about avoiding and handling problems. Hey, it happens. Till then, build muscle.

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