Guest Column: 30 Ways to Lose Money in Custom Retailing And How to Avoid Them
In this second installment on the evolution of custom retailing, George McKechnie analyzes four elements of job bidding—clients, projects, team members, and one’s own company—to identify 30 pitfalls which can erode profit, frustrate staff and undermine client satisfaction. He also provides strategies for resolving them.
In these tough times, why would a dealer want to “select” clients? Don’t we want to write as much business as possible? Not when one bad job can wipe out the profits of four or even six good jobs—and risk your reputation in the bargain. We begin with nine client hazards that can waste staff time and eat into profits, plus actions you can take to resolve them.
If a client has unreasonable expectations about the project relative to the stated budget, offer ballpark estimates early on to save staff time and misunderstanding; engage the client in discussions that clarify design and engineering issues relative to their expectations.
2. Product Focus
A client may want products that are inappropriate for the project, or insist on brands that you do not sell. Explain that this is a service transaction. They are buying your expertise (your “brand”), and you will specify the products that meet their needs and the engineering requirements of the job.
A client may expect custom service, along with free design consultation and engineering, all at Internet pricing. Explain your custom retailer value proposition: systematic needs assessment, demo facilities, engineering and aesthetic design, competent installation and responsive follow-up. If they still want price, let them make a competitor’s life miserable.
The client is fault finding, argumentative or complaining from the start. If a prior A/V transaction went bad, get the details and discuss how to make this transaction better. But if complaining is their hobby, you probably won’t satisfy them. Let them be unhappy...elsewhere.