Do You Know Where Your Nuts Are?

squirrelI have one of the world’s dumbest squirrels living in my back yard and he is extremely entertaining to watch. He can never seem to remember where he’s stashed his nuts. It’s so crazy — I’ve even seen other squirrels helping him look for them (okay, that’s probably not what they’re actually doing — but when part of your job is drawing funny pictures, you tend to view the world a little differently).

As a home-based business person, not knowing where your nuts are can make you crazy. Now, at this point you may be wondering to which nuts I am referring (and those of you snickering, I know what you’re thinking). Well, the nuts I am referring to are…

Those Nutty Customers

Almost every home-based business person I’ve worked with has wonderful customers. In the 15+ years I’ve been working at home for myself, I’ve only had 2 crazy customers. But those were enough. Not knowing where those nuts are — or worse, knowing, but refusing to acknowledge them — can cost you. It can cost you time, money and your sanity.

You and I both know we’re nothing without our customers. But there comes a time when you have to face the fact that not every customer is a benefit to you or your business. Often it can be like a bad relationship, and knowing when to break up is important.

Getting to Know Your Nuts

If you have no nutty customers, than you’re doing it right. Being able to identify potential problems early is a great skill to have. But if you have to deal with this after the fact, here are some things to consider…

1 – It’s not them, it’s you. Make sure you’re not the problem. If half or more of your clients are a problem, maybe you need to evaluate how you’re doing business. It may be the customers you’re choosing, or your customer service. It’s always a good thing to look in the mirror first.

2 – Identify the issues. Where do the problems lay – pricing, billing, features, communication? Being able to clearly identify what the common problem is will help you to better deal with the issue.

3 – How important are they to your business? If they are a major client, it may be more difficult to work out a solution. In the long run, if they are truly what you consider a problem client, it will be better to part ways. It may hurt now, but will save you a lot of headaches down the road.

4 – Break it to them gently. Remember, the customer may not always be right, but they are always the customer. That is, until they are no longer the customer. Handle it with professionalism, and be sure not to burn any bridges. They may refer others to you that may be excellent clients (I know this from experience). Explain that you just can’t seem to meet their needs and you’d rather have them satisfied with someone else, than unhappy with you.

The occasional nutty customer is just part of doing business. Knowing who those customers are, and how to deal with them, will set a tone for your business going forward. Part of good customer service is knowing when you aren’t the right person for their needs. Be respectful and helpful, but some times there are those that you just won’t be able to accommodate, no matter how hard you try.

Granted, they might not actually be nuts – but if you keep them around, you definitely will be.