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Severed ties with my best return customer

Started by mike802, May 07, 2014, 04:51:29 pm

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mike802

May 07, 2014, 04:51:29 pm Last Edit: May 07, 2014, 04:52:17 pm by mike802
Hi everyone:  Yesterday I severed ties with my best return customer, a decorator I have been working with for 8 1/2 years.  Why?  Well, incorrect or incomplete information on a work order led to the wrong product being delivered.  I tried to work with them, they admitted to not giving me all the information, but still said it was my fault.  I pondered all our past, and at the time possible future work and decided not to split hairs and just credit them the total price for the wrong product to keep a long standing customer happy.  Then they told me there customer wanted an upgrade, great right?  So I estimated the cost of an upgrade, deducted the cost of the first incorrect product and came up with a cost.  Unfortunately they thought that was way to much and they figured I should offer them the upgrade at my cost plus give them credit on the wrong product.  To say the least my mother did not raise no fool and I told them to bring the van and pick up any and all remaining furniture in my studio and find a new upholster.  This may sound rash, but over the years I have bent a little to much a little to often for these people and finally got to the last straw.  

To many nights working until 2 AM to meet one of their deadlines, being underhandedly accused of ordering extra fabric and selling the remnants, loosing out on large 10 grand orders because I refused to guarantee fabric they sell, they expect me to give them an exclusive service by not telling the customers I deliver to who my company is, but they have no problem using different upholsters, being asked for estimates when they really are looking for bids,  I could go on and on, but this helps me get it off my chest.

One more thing, when the fabric arrived it was side marked for the pool room in the guest house, and this decorator has the odasity the tell me her client is working on a fixed budget, maybe I should ad lying to my list of complaints, on top of questioning my professionalism!  
"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power" - Abraham Lincoln
http://www.mjamsdenfurniture.com

SteveA

Mike
I've parted ways with customers like that 5-6 times over the years.  Yes they paid a lot of bills and I really didn't mind working overtime in my own business but you reach a point when it's better to go another direction.  What seems apparent is you are really upset about this customer and you shouldn't be.  Better to put it out of your thoughts and realize it was long over due for you to say .......... " See Ya "  !
SA

mike802

Thanks Steve:  Your very perceptive, yes I am quite upset about it, I think what upsets me the most is I put up with it for so long.  On my very first meeting with this decorator I loaded a job into my truck, as she put my name in her Rolodex she told me "this can be removed just as easy as it went in"  I should have told my helper right then and their to unload the work, as I would not work under such conditions.  My only solace in all this is in the end I was the one to tell her to remove it.  My hope is it will not be as easy as she thought it would be.
"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power" - Abraham Lincoln
http://www.mjamsdenfurniture.com

bobbin

Mike, it happens to everyone at some time or another.  Mine was an alteration customer who appeared every year/so.  Always to have something taken in.  Would never make the time to try the altered garment on when she picked it up... but called me 3 or 4 mos. later to tell me I'd taken the item in too much!  When I finally clamped down on the free do overs she wasn't very happy; one day she hit me at the wrong time and I told her working for her very frustrating for me because I could never make her happy.  "But where am I going to go now? can you recommend anyone?".  "You could always try the Yellow Pages.".

Yes, the decorator's work paid a lot of bills.  But if you're not treated with the respect your level of skill deserves... walk away!  No one needs that crap and professionals don't treat each other that way.  Make some time to go outside and enjoy this pretty spring day!

mike802

Thanks Bobbin: You don't know how much it means to me to hear others opinions, especially when they tell me I made the right decision. LOL  I wonder if you alteration customer always came back right after the holidays? LOL

I think I will go out and enjoy the beautiful day we are having. Thanks.
"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power" - Abraham Lincoln
http://www.mjamsdenfurniture.com

bobbin

Actually Mike, you are exactly right about her unfailing "timing"! (took me longer to figure it out, frankly)   ::)  Which has me thinking, do you think she ever figured her card could be removed from the rolodex as quickly as yours could??

I think it's really hard when you work by yourself and are faced with this sort of situation.  I know I always second guess myself... "am I being stupid?", "is it really that annoying?", "am I being unreasonable/unfair?", should I bid adieu to someone who's been a reliable customer for thus and such an amount of time?

Steve at Silverstone Fabrics

Mike, Keep your fingers crossed that she will want to "mend fences" and have you become her upholsterer again.

Several years back, I had a similar incident with an interior designer (she always introduced herself: Ms Mary Beth S--------E, ASID) and when she called to try and lure me back. I told her "Have a happy life and never call me again!".......I hung up the phone and realized this is why I am willing to pay the price to self employed. I do not have bosses, I only have customers.......some I want and others that I don't.

Hang in there, you did the right thing. Steve

sofadoc

She never would've got past that Roladex remark with me.


I've had to sever ties a few times over the years. Decorators and regular customers that demand preferential treatment. The first inclination is to worry about the lost income. But then I would quickly realize that since they were such a PITA, getting rid of them only opened things up for more profitable work.
"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban

mike802

May 08, 2014, 01:32:52 am #8 Last Edit: May 08, 2014, 01:37:55 am by mike802
Thanks guys for all your support, really nice to hear similar stories.

QuoteShe never would've got past that Roladex remark with me.
Sofa, looking back, I think I was in shock from hearing it and was totally taken off guard. It's been a thorn in my side ever since.

Quotedo you think she ever figured her card could be removed from the rolodex as quickly as yours could??
You know Bobbin, no I don't think she ever even considered I would tell her to take a hike.  I know what you mean about second guessing our decisions, or how we feel, but I got out into the sun today and I feel a whole lot less stress.
"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power" - Abraham Lincoln
http://www.mjamsdenfurniture.com

west coast

Funny eh we can all relate stories of the same situation. In my case it was like a cleansing and relief all at once. The funny thing is I think I went on to make more money and I am darn sure she went on to make alot less going to the shop she went to, win win!

sofadoc

Quote from: mike802 on May 07, 2014, 04:51:29 pm
they expect me to give them an exclusive service by not telling the customers I deliver to who my company is
I have a decorator who will come in my shop and nose around. When she sees a name on a piece of furniture that matches the name of one of her past/present clients, she will quiz me about it. She has told me that she expects me to refuse any of her clients unless they go through her first.

When I do work for her, I try to remain as anonymous as possible when dealing directly with her clients. But hey, I've got a public store front right downtown, and my business is listed in the local YP's. I'm not turning down anyone who calls me on the phone, or walks into my shop. I'm not going to refuse a customer just because some ID thinks that she has "dibbs" on them.

There was a time when I probably could've worked exclusively for decorators. But as discount fabric stores have popped up everywhere over the last 20+ years, the ID biz has dried up considerably. Decorators come.......they go.......I'm still here.
"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban

bobbin

Ain't that the truth.  When I do work for an ID I remain very much in the background, too.  But all's fair when the customer contacts me directly.  If an ID wishes an upholsterer to remain "anonymous" shouldn't a retainer be paid??

mike802

I agree that if an ID wants you to be anonymous they should be willing to concede something on their end, I think a minimum of using no other upholster at least.  I have decided that I will no longer remain anonymous for anyone, my tags will always go on my work, how else can I build my business?  The ID I was working for was building a reputation for excellent reupholstering service on my back and now I have to go up against the reputation I built for them. Anyway, their reputation will fall fast, she told me I was the best upholster she had ever worked with.
"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power" - Abraham Lincoln
http://www.mjamsdenfurniture.com

kodydog

Quote from: mike802 on May 08, 2014, 10:17:17 pm
Anyway, their reputation will fall fast, she told me I was the best upholster she had ever worked with.


I've seen your work and watched your videos and can tell you this ID is going to be very disappointed when she starts hunting for a new upholsterer.

As far as being anonymous my feeling is if the ID wants exclusive service then she should provide all the services to make sure the upholsterer has no contact with her customer. Going out to make yardage estimates comes to mind. Its not like were out there trying to steal their clients. That would be foolish. But it would also be foolish to turn down a job when her customer calls you. This customer may have found you anyway, even if you had never met the ID.

I generally like working for designers (btw what was her name, hmm) but we've fired at least 2 for acting rude over the years. Sometimes you have to ask yourself, is it really worth it.
There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.
http://northfloridachair.com/index.html

Mojo

Mike:

I have seen your work and I know the type of person you are. In the end it will be a huge loss for her
and a gain for you. She never deserved you and your skills as a true craftsman. Like Dennis said I would have taken issue with the Rolodex comment right then and there and removed it myself for her. Bobbin hit the nail on the head with her professionalism comment. I have always felt that -
" Professional attitudes works wonders ".

I have never worked with an ID before and in my line of work probably never will. I read the stories that all of you post and it makes me grateful. I have a very low level of patience for people who think I owe them something and exist just for their benefit.

I am truly sorry you had to go through this but like my Dad always told me " It always works out in the end ". I am going to guess that she comes back to you at some point in time and I am hoping you tell her to go pound sand. :)

Chris