Avoid These Types of Customers at all Costs

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Is any customer a good customer when you’re a small business? No, they’re not. As a small business owner, you probably realize just how important it is to grow your client base and keep them coming back. However, there are those customers who are just too much to handle. As a small business owner, you are more likely to connect more closely with your clients, so interacting with a bad one can leave you in a delicate situation. These types of interactions can be way more stressful than what they’ll cost you in respect of your time, money, and reputation. The following ten customers are the ones to definitely avoid, even when starting out.

The Endless Negotiator

Are your prices set in stone? Or are you open to some negotiation? I would think you’d have a good idea of what you’re going to charge any given customer. However, there are those customers who just insist on bargaining and determined to do so. This person will constantly move the goalposts to get a better price or more perks, forcing to adjust costs with no actual promise of their business. Just say goodbye and move on to someone who’s more than willing to pay what you want to charge.

The Customer in a Rush

Mr. Rush always wants the full package deal done in half the time, and they won’t take no for an answer. If you can negotiate a fair price for the rush job, then go right ahead. Sadly, this person is just trying to push you to complete an impossible job for little pay, and you just need to say no. If you feel the timeframe is unrealistic, don’t feel pressured to work to it; otherwise, you end up exhausted, your staff are too, and end product that’s not up to par, and a disappointed client.

The Buddy

This is someone you knew vaguely in college, or your cousin’s best friend, or someone you met at a party that one time. This person is determined to us this connection to manipulate a better price, in order words, you do fair work at an unfair price. Don’t get caught by this person. You’re fine to offer a ‘friends and family discount’ but don’t feel compelled to do it for everyone who says they’re a buddy.

The Time Hog

If you’re a service-based business, then this type of customer is especially dangerous. The Time Hog is very willing to pay what you ask, and their request is reasonable, however, they’re going to ask a thousand questions and demand an absurd of your time with meetings and updates. This kind of customer will require extra time, and you should calculate your hourly rate based on how much extra time you need to spend with them. In the end, you’ll probably realize that they’re just not worth the hassle after all.

The Bad Communicator

This customer sends haphazard emails, doesn’t answer your questions, and you end up improvising much more than you’re comfortable with doing. You may be thinking they just don’t care what they get in the end, but that’s not usually the case. The bad communicator is usually the one that refuses to pay or gives a bad review chastising you when they don’t get the result they wanted. So, unless you can read minds, just say no to this type of customer.

The Freeloader

No one likes a freeloader, but it’s sometimes hard to tell which of your customers are just being fussy and which are freeloaders. The freeloader usually wants something for free before doing business with you, such as samples, or for the designers out there a mock up. Almost always, the samples are all they’ll want, and they may even try to sell them to someone else. Determine what your policy will be in regard to samples and hold firm from customers who demand for more.

The Enquirer

Customers will always make inquiries, however, there are times when you get that knot in your stomach that says, ‘Why does this person care about that detail?” When a customer enquires looking for detailed answers to a lot of specific or unusual questions, before they’ve even started working with you, then more than likely they’re not a customer at all. Other businesses or potential competitors may be using this as a way to analyze the specifics of what you offer, which is just a waste of your time.

The Customer Who Knows Best

This customer worked in your industry decades ago, or an old college pal ran a similar business, or they’ve been getting information off the internet. Showing real interest is a good thing, but being an uninformed know-it-all isn’t. They will disagree with your methods, ignore your advice, or contend that they know better than you. This customer will never be happy with the finished product no matter how hard you try.

The Perfectionist

This customer comes to you with high expectations and highly refined sense of what they want, so you need to be careful on how you continue. If you feel your abilities can make their dream come to life then go ahead, however, if you’ve got any doubts then stay away from the perfectionist. They won’t change their thinking no matter how unrealistic it is, so don’t even bother going down this to start.

The Customer Who Promises to Return

Stay away from that first-time customer who keeps telling you what they could do for you if you’d just do this job for free, a steep discount, or lots of free samples. This especially goes for creative people as most of these types of customers will tell you about all the “exposure” you’re going to get by working with them, which is absolute BS. Good repeat customers determine whether they’ll work with you again based on what you delivered to them, not before. Stand firm and only offer the same kind of perks you’d offer any first-time customer, even if they keep pushing.

Bad customers end up being a bad headache for you and your business. Worst-case scenario then can end up being disastrous for your small business, especially when you’re just starting out. To keep your business running smoothly, happily, and free of unnecessary drama, avoid the above ten customers at all costs, even when first starting your business.

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About the Author

President/CEO Number Crunchers® Accounting Inc. Learn how to just say stuff it to this bookkeeping thing with our 'Just Say: "Stuff It" To Bookkeeping program.