GROWING YOUR BUSINESS: Dealing with angry customers

by Dan Beaulieu
Business consultant

Look, it’s going to happen. Someone once said that if you don’t make mistakes, you are not trying hard enough. So, yes sometimes you will make a mistake, you will screw something up that will make your customer upset and possibly even angry. And then there are sometimes that because of some misunderstanding the customer is angry with you and it’s not even your fault. And then there are those most challenging times when the customer is just angry, and he is unfairly taking it out on you. How do you handle that? How you handle these situations will define how truly outstanding your company is.

Here are a few rules for handling an angry customer that will work every time:

  • Stay calm, at all costs stay calm. Do not under any circumstances lose your cool. Remember cool heads always prevail. Do not fall to the temptation of talking back, or defending yourself, at least at this time.
  • Smile. No, not a stupid idiotic grin, but rather a friendly calming smile, that will demonstrate to your customer, that it’s okay, you come in peace and you want to gracefully solve the problem.
  • Use the customer’s name, and in most cases, this means using Mr. or Mrs. Or Miss. or Ms. Do not use their first name unless you have permission. There is something calming about hearing your own name said calmly and politely.
  • Listen carefully, very carefully to make sure you understand exactly what it is that the customer is unhappy about. Do not interrupt at this point. Let the person tell you in her own way, taking his own time what the problem is. Get the complete story from the customer.
  • Repeat what they told you. Once the customer has finished telling what the problem is, play it back to her in your own words. Pausing while relating to get her affirmation that you have a complete and clear understanding of what she is unhappy about.
  • Make sure that you now both agree as to what the issue is. Make sure you are both clear on this.
  • Ask the customer what he would like you to do about it? How can you fix this problem to her satisfaction?
  • Agree to fix it. If it is a reasonable request, even if you are not one hundred percent to blame, if you can possibly fix the problem and repair the relationship then, by all means do it. Agree to fix the problem if you can.
  • And if you are not one hundred percent on the wrong side of this issue. Still fix it. Not only fix it, but fix it to the customer’s satisfaction.
  • Make reparations. If you were truly at fault, or mostly at fault, then not only fix the problem but add something extra to make up for your mistake. This will go a long way towards strengthening your relationship with this customer.
  • Remember always, that the important thing is to retain the customer, the last thing you want to do is win the battle and lose the war. You want to retain the customer at all costs. It has been proven that unhappy customers love telling “horror stories” about bad service. In fact, statistics show that service horror stories are repeated so frequently that often over 250 people will hear them. Not a good thing. Especially if you are doing business in a small community.
  • On the other hand, happy customers love to brag about getting great service. It makes them feel so good and so smart for finding a great company that delivers super services and products that they will tell everyone they know about it… and if your smart you’ll make sure that the company they are bragging about is yours! That’s a great way to grow your business.

GROWING YOUR BUSINESS: Doing everything on time

Growing your businessby Dan Beaulieu, Business consultant

Or ahead of schedule. One of the biggest complaints customers have, whether they are dealing with the cable company or the washing machine repair person, is not knowing exactly when they will show up. Some companies will tell you they will be there sometime on Tuesday! Others will get more specific and say sometime in the afternoon between one and five; while others just plain not even show up or call. There is nothing worse than this when you are the consumer. And there is no worse evidence of a poorly run company, small or big than letting your customer twist slowly in the wind of the great unknown of when their repair person will show up.

We have all been there and done that. We have all suffered through the ‘glorious injustice” of waiting all day for the repair person who was supposed to show up at eight in the morning and arrives at four in the afternoon. Wow! Is that aggravating or what? And the sad thing is this should be the easy part of the job. The hard part is the performing service, the installation or the repair or whatever.

As someone once said, “Showing up is half the job.” And if you can’t even show up on time what does that tell your customer about you and about your company. You have two strikes against you already and you have not even stepped into the batter’s box yet.

But here is the good news. This is a great opportunity to be truly outstanding; this is your time to shine. And because so many of your competitors have this problem, you can be the one company that makes showing up on time a priority. Heck, always showing up on time can be a part of your reputation. Part of your brand.

And it really is easy to do. All it takes to show up on time is paying attention to your scheduling. You can get some scheduling software. Chances are you have Outlook on your phone already and that will do it for you. If you really know what you’re doing, you will be able to give your customers a two-hour window of when they can expect you. A one-hour window would be better, but because customers are so used to being disappointed all the time, they will love even a two-hour window. And then, and this is the best part, call them on the day of the service call. Let them know where you stand in terms of your current schedule and your estimated arrival time as the time nears and you have a clearer understanding of when you will arrive. Creating this system, and sticking to it will make your customers talk positively about you and that in end is what you want.

And one more piece of advice. The phone call, as in returning phone calls. If you can do it, return them immediately. Or have someone in your company return them immediately, or better yet answer them live! Imagine that? But if you are out there all day on your own getting your business started then make sure that your voice mail message, a very respectful message, letting the customer hear how much you want her business and then, and this is the important part… Let her know via your message that you return all calls between a certain time each early evening. This will go a long way in pleasing your customer and letting her know, not only how reliable, and dependable, you are, but also how important her business and her time are to you. With this simple message, these few words you will already be establishing an aura of professionalism that will make your company appear outstanding. And this is with just one phone message. You haven’t even performed the service yet!

So, remember these three simple rules of business:

  • Be on time;
  • Answer your phone immediately;
  • Or if you can’t leave a great phone message, letting the customer know exactly when you will return her call.

How hard can that be?

GROWING YOUR BUSINESS: Getting the word out; Who are you and what do you do?

Growing your businessby Dan Beaulieu
Business consultant

No matter how great your small business is, if nobody knows about it, you will fail. I have talked to many business owners who tell me that they do not need to advertise or market their companies right now because they have all the business they need. I always remind them that they have all the business they need today, but will they in the future? Remember the great recession of 2008: how much business did you have after that?

Growing a business is just that…it is growing. A business that is not always growing is dying. That is just a simple rule of business. And the last thing you want to have to do is start playing catch up when you are out of business to work on. No, the best way to keep your business thriving is to always be telling people about it. The more people who know about your business the better it will be and the more your business will grow.

Here are six very easy and economical ways to market your company:

  • The website: Sorry, you need a website. This is the world we live in today. By using one of the many services, such as, you can actually build your own website in a matter of hours. Make sure the site is clear, concise and carries your company message. It needs to not only have all the pertinent information about your company (name, and contact information, services you perform and rates if applicable) but make sure you personalize it as well. Tell your story, add testimonials and referrals. Show photos of you and your team. In short, make the site user friendly enough that people are going to want to hire you.
  • Create a paper flyer. Once again, if you have a computer this is easy to do. Basic software packages like Microsoft Word provide attractive templates you can use to create your flyers. Once again, make sure the flyer is colorful and attractive and has all the pertinent information about your company. If you don’t have a computer at home, then go to the library. The Waterville Public Library, for example, not only has computers and printers, they will also be happy to help you use them.
  •  Make sure you distribute these flyers. Either mail them, or hand them out. When you finish a project in a neighborhood, before you leave, distribute flyers to the other houses in that neighborhood. It doesn’t take much effort and it will pay off in the end.
  • Make sure your apparel and your vehicle all display your company name and contact information. And also have lawn signs available to plant in front of the customer’s home if you are a service company working at that home. Ask for permission, of course. In most neighborhoods, people will notice when work is being done on a house and will often approach the service company to come and check out a potential project at their house as well. It happens all the time.
  • Place ads in newspapers such as this one. The ads are very economical and are seen every week by thousands of people. It’s the best advertising money you can spend.
  • And finally get those referrals. They are worth their weight in gold. Nothing works better than one of your customers being so pleased with you and your company that they tell everyone they know about you. When a customer tells you that you have done a great job, is the perfect time to ask her for a referral, or better yet, a testimonial you can use in all of your marketing materials.

These are a few of the easy and most economical ways you can market your business. Have some fun with it. There is nothing better than working on growing your business.

Dan Beaulieu has owned his own business consulting firm since 1995, during that time he has helped hundreds of companies all over the world with their sales growth challenges and issues. Originally from Maine he returned a few years ago and is ready and willing to help his fellow Mainers start and grow their business. He can be reached at 207-649-0879 or at

GROWING YOUR BUSINESS: Starting your own business? Here’s how to get started

by Dan Beaulieu
Business consultant

You want to be your own boss. You’re tired of working for someone else, and feel it’s time to go into business for yourself.

What are you going to do? What are you good at? What are your interests? What makes your heart sing? Do you like carpentry? Are you handy with your tools? Do you like building furniture? Maybe you’re a great seamstress, or maybe landscaping is your thing, it could be you have a green thumb? So, what is it going to be? What would you like to do with the rest of your life? How would you like to make a living doing something you love? Think carefully now because to start and keep a successful small business you are going to have to be creative, passionate and very hard working, because you are going to work harder than you ever have before. But as a famous man once said. If you find something you love to do, and get paid for, you’ll never work another day in your life. So, what’s it going to be? Think about it, and while you think about it ask yourself these questions:

  • What is it I love to do best in life?
  • Can I make money at this?
  • Who will pay me for this service?
  • Who will be my customers?
  • What kind of people need what I have to sell?
  • Are other people selling the product or service I want to sell?
  • Why will my products and services be better than anyone else?
  • What will I charge for this product or service?
  • How much will be enough to make a good living?
  • Will it take other people?
  • Will I have to start a company?
  • How will I get the word out about my new company?
  • What will I call my new company?
  • How much money will I need to get started?
  • How will I live while the getting gets started and no money is coming in?
  • Should I keep my current job while I get started?
  • Once started how will I make sure that my business keeps growing?

So many questions, so little time. It’s a lot to think about, isn’t it? And yes, there is considerable risk involved but if you choose the right product or service. Something that you are really good at, the rewards will be inestimable and, yes, with the right amount of courage, creativity and passion you will not only in the end survive, you will thrive!

Are you ready to join me on the greatest adventure of your life? Then come along because in the next few months I am going to be your guide. I am going to go through the process of starting and growing your business in a way that will be fun, exciting and rewarding. Together we are going to work on answering these questions and we are going to help you realize your dreams of working for yourself in your own successful business. Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of growing your business.

Dan Beaulieu has owned his own business consulting firm since 1995, during that time he has helped hundreds of companies all over the world with their sales growth challenges and issues. Originally from Maine, he returned a few years ago and is ready and willing to help his fellow Mainers start and grow their business. He can be reached at 207-649-0879 or at