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The problem with customers is that they can get in the way of your business!

It’s ironic isn’t it? Your customers are obviously critical to you and your business. Without them spending money with you, you wouldn’t have a business.

But often it’s your customers that get in the way of your success.

I don’t mean the “generating day-to-day income” kind of success. I’m referring to your long term success where you grow your business to be a business, rather than just a “job”.

This week I have been busy interviewing business owners for my new Get-It-Done Marketing programme. It’s an implementation programme for entrepreneurial business owners who need a push, prod and kick up the backside to create a targeted marketing campaign that gets sales.

These interviews have been fascinating and it’s this ironic situation of the customers getting in the way of business success that has come up again and again.

Let me explain.

You need customers. Absolutely.

Whether you sell training programmes, coaching services, baby clothes online, rooms in a hotel or exclusive diamond engagement rings … you need customers to buy what it is that you sell so you can generate an income.

But not every customer should be your customer.

And not every customer should demand your time and attention every hour of your week.

The customer who shouldn’t be your customer

We’ve all had them. The customer who expects a discount, quibbles and question your every word and then finds every excuse to pay your invoice. Some people deserve a discount. Some will deserve slightly more attention than others.

But usually this kind of customer has a nasty habit of taking up proportionally more of your time than the customers who don’t quibble, question and struggle to pay on time.

It’s these customers who on one hand bring income in to your business but with the other hand drain your energy, resources and time. They suffocate you and your entrepreneurial spirit.

It’s not surprising then that these customers have a detrimental effect on your success.

It does take a very brave person to “sack” a customer such as this one, but “sack” you must if you want to have a business, rather than a job.

Laying down the boundaries

Often, it’s not the bad customers that are the problems. Going by some of the interviews I have had this week, it was easy to see that sacking customers was not needed.

If the business owner wasn’t instrumental to the business, it would them that needed to be sacked!

By having little or no boundaries and being at your customers’ beck and call is NOT useful, nor valuable to you or your customers. There may be the odd VIP customer that is willing to pay for this kind of attention, but this should be a very rare circumstance IMHO.

Quick example: I checked out someone’s website this week who claimed that they could be called 7 days a week, 8am until 6pm. Seriously??! Could I really call this person to talk about their service at 5pm on a Sunday afternoon?

And if this person were so freely available, how on earth would they be able to deliver the service to the high standard that I was expecting?

OK, this seems rather extreme. But too many of you make yourself too available to your customers. Yes, you want to respond quickly to new enquiries or customer calls. But if you want to offer a customer service hot line, then outsource the calls and the emails. Don’t take them yourself.

Your role in your business

I’ve recommended this book before and I will keep recommending it again. Gerber’s E-Myth Revisited is critical reading for all and every business owner as it shows you clearly the different roles and clashing personalities that you have n your business.

The technician is there to do the job – coach, run the training programme, put the orders in the post, design and produce the new engagement ring. Yup. You get that, I’m sure.

But what about the role of the manager and the entrepreneur? Spend too much of your week as the technician and these two other roles, which are instrumental to the success of you and your business, get forgotten.

The manager needs to evaluate your progress, set goals, plan and execute marketing campaigns. The entrepreneur needs to bring in new ideas, initiatives, offers, products and programmes. Without evolving and staying fresh, your business will stagnate and slowly fizzle out.

These three personalities fight. They naturally don’t work together well! And that’s the challenge that you, the business owner, face every day. The challenge of delivering what it is your customers are paying you to deliver, as well as plan and execute your business strategies and evolve to stay fresh and new.

Without clearly defined personal boundaries, the technician will always win the battle. And you will find yourself a slave to your emails, your phone calls and to those customers who really shouldn’t be your customers!

If you are really stuck in technician mode, then your first step is to commit to just one hour a day working “on” your business. That may feel impossible to some at this moment of time. But I can guarantee that once you start to define the hours you are available to your customers and to stop checking emails, Twitter and Facebook twenty times a day (!!) then one hour is easy.

Try it and let me know how you get on.

Is there more?

Well, yes. Of course. I feel as if I could keep writing and writing on this topic of customers getting in the way of your business. Perhaps it should become one of my next books!

But you’ve had enough of me for now. I have my boundaries and I need to get on with working “on” MY business right now. Enough of working on YOUR business LOL

What do you think about this topic of customers stumping your success? I would love to read your thoughts and comments so please add them below.

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