GROWING YOUR BUSINESS: Take care of your customers in need

by Dan Beaulieu
Business consultant

Years ago, one winter when I was out of town on business, enough snow had fallen – as it will tend to do here in Maine, – that my dear wife was concerned about the snow load on the roof. When she saw a crew working clearing a neighbor’s roof, she put on her boots and her winter coat to go talk to them. The fact being that she had been on the phone all morning trying to find someone to come over and clear our roof, so she was relieved when she saw the men across the street working on a roof.

When she approached them and found the man in charge, she asked him if he had time to clear our roof as well.

He looked at her, smiled and then told her they were all booked up, but he said, “I might be able to fit you in but it’s going to be expensive.” “How expensive?” she asked, knowing that be­cause we have a big house with a lot of roofs, what it should cost, and so she thought she was prepared to pay the price she normally paid, which yes, was not cheap but worth it.

But she was hit with sticker shock when this man quoted her a price that was well over twice as much as what she normally was used to paying.

“Are you sure?” She asked, “That’s much more than we normally pay the people who did it last year.”

“Sure, but they’re not here, now are they? Sorry, lady, but that’s the price, take it or leave it… and I could charge you even more if I wanted to. So, what’s it gonna be?” he said impatiently.

Not seeing any other way, and the snow falling heavily with signs of it keeping up for the rest of the day, she reluctantly agreed to pay the price he asked.

Now, as you can imagine after that, my wife would go out of her way never to use that man’s company again. In fact, although not a vindictive woman, she could not help but tell many people the story of what had happened. And yes, we never used that company again. In fact, it has been years since I have seen his truck around the neighborhood, so I suspect that he has gone out of business. Not a surprise, really.

If you want to run a successful business you have to always ask for a fair price for the services you perform. Sure, you can play that supply and demand game if you want. You can raise your prices when the demand is high, but in the end, you have to be fair and treat people fairly because if you don’t, if you take advantage of people, especially when they are in need, they will never forget and when things get back to normal, they will never buy from you again.

On the other hand, if you come to their aid when they are in trouble, when they really do need your help…and you help them, you’ll have a customer for life and that is the best way to grow your business.


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