Watch The Journey



You’re Fired!


You’re Fired!

When you get rid of problem customers, clients, or patients, the vacuum fills with better customers, clients, or patients. And if you're not confident that the vacuum will fill, then that immediately tells you, you’ve got marketing problems. If you’ve got good marketing, the vacuum will fill.

When's the last time you went to an emergency room at a hospital?

Emergency rooms should be called a waiting room, cause that's what it is, right? 90% of the people who came there thinking they had emergencies, the first thing they discover is their definition of an emergency doesn't match the hospital's definition of emergency.

You gotta have a spike sticking out of your body before anybody is gonna pay any immediate attention to you. And even then, they might hand you a bag of ice, roll you over in a corner and say, “You know, the doctor will be with you shortly.” And again, they have a completely different definition of shortly - it has nothing to do with time. It's a foreign concept to them!

While emergency rooms can’t fire their clients, they treat them the same way you should treat your clients. Because what you don't want to do is let yourself be stampeded by other people's perceptions of how you should respond to them. You can train your customer, and you start training with them as a prospect, and again, they'd really rather you did.

See, the idea that, ‘You are going to do best in business by being instantly and massively accessible to everybody’, which is an idea that has been taught in sales training, is totally wrong.

These people are wired to their customers; they gotta have beepers, gotta have phones, can't let it go 10 seconds without responding to them. Bad thinking in almost any business because it's bad positioning. And positioning wins out over service, most of the time.

Let's assume it's the menswear section and the salesperson’s assistant comes over to you and says, “The men's fashion consultant here is busy with another customer right now. He'll be approximately 20 minutes. We'd love to have you be the next person he takes care of. You can have a seat here and look at some information or you can browse around and can I get you a cup of coffee.” Now, if the salesman is smart, even if he doesn't have another customer, he's in the back room drinking a cup of coffee while you're drinking a cup of coffee.

Train your customers. But if they won’t listen or you have a problem customer, fire those clients, customers, or patients. Just get rid of them.

When you get rid of problem customers, clients, or patients, the vacuum fills with better customers, clients, or patients. And if you're not confident that the vacuum will fill, then that immediately tells you, you’ve got marketing problems. If you’ve got good marketing, the vacuum will fill.

And the management principle of, “20% of your people gives you 80% of your trouble,” the same thing's true with customers. A small percentage of your customers give you the vast majority of your grief and you are infinitely better off surgically removing them as early as you detect that they are that person.

Now every once in a while, yes, you will get rid of one that could have turned around - if you had hung in there and you lose a good one every once in a while, but overall, this policy will save you a lot of grief and make you a lot of money.

The customer that sucks up an inordinate percentage of your time, money, energy and staff, you can't afford them.

And what people do is look at the gross revenue, you know. “Well gee, this account spends a hundred thousand dollars a year with me.” But if they're costing you $300,000 a year in time, energy, staff, etc, you're better off getting rid of a hundred thousand. And you may temporarily wind up less gross, more margin, which is a whole other topic.

Sales managers make the same mistake with salespeople. They wind up now devoting an inordinate amount of time to the problem child. You know, the bad news about real problem children is you can't fire 'em. I mean you can send 'em off to military school, but you're kind of stuck with 'em, you know? And, and, and now they're moving back in. So it's like, you never get rid of 'em, but a problem customer you can tell, “Go away.”

They have a great big sign in restaurants, “We reserve the right to refuse service to anybody.” You too! This is a great shock to customers, and you can try and do it in a way that doesn't leave them permanently PO’ed.

The same for employees. The employee corollary is really interesting, but happens when you find the one that is the real problem. And when you fire that person, first of all, all the other employees knew you should have done it before you did, and they give you credit. And you seem reasonable - they suddenly decide you're not as stupid as they thought you were for the last three months. And so, temporarily, the relationship with everybody else improves. Also their productivity improves, because they realize you will actually fire somebody.

But the 80/20 rule, and maybe it's 90/10, maybe it's 85/15 you know, but it's there in everything.

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