"I've never lost any customers because of......."

DTWDSM

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I have seen this in 2 recent threads and have seen this comment many times here in the past 2 years.

Many here have said that they have not ever lost a customer because of a rule, policy, attitude, ect.

My question is How do you know? How do you know that you didn't PO someone and they went out and told some of your potential customers? Why do some make it hard for customers to shop with us and at the same time think that theyhave not lost a customer because of it?
 

Paul N

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Why do some make it hard for customers to shop with us and at the same time think that they have not lost a customer because of it?

Tim:

What do you mean by that?? Do you know someone who did that??

I know I lost a customer and I am not losing sleep over it. Someone who was getting %50 off (!!) framing her pictures (photographer).

This discount was kept when I took over the business because this customer was allegedly bringing in "lots of volume". It turns out it was about 20 frames per year (for a total of maybe $2000). And when prices went up, I raised my prices a bit and the customer went elsewhere.

I was really happy she did! I am not in this business to lose money or break-even. The amount of time I had to spend "designing" her mats and frames was huge.

As to how we can tell if we lost others too? No one can really tell except by tracking which regular customer never came back. The "irregular" ones are hard to track.

Maybe we should send a questionnaire / survey: Did we PO you lately???
 

Val

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Personnally, I'd rather see a survey on "How Many Customers Came Back After Leaving to Try Out the Other Guy?" or, "....the BB Big Sales?"

We're human, and we can't make all of the people happy all of the time. But I'm certainly grateful fot those who keep coming back, and for the new ones who just discovered us and will stay.

Worrying about what I've done to PO someone leaves little room for finding out what I've done right, and I'd rather keep that mindset, thanks.
 

DTWDSM

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Ok, Paul, calm down and take a few breaths. All I asked was a question and did not want to pick on anyone here. This was meant to be a thought provoking question.

Let's say Shop A has a Lego table and some books for kids to read and the Shop B down the street has a sign saying "Unattended Kids Will be Sold" Shop owner B says that he/she has never lost any customers because of the sign. My question is how can he/she really make that claim?

As a parent I would feel more welcome to bring my children to Shop A since they are willing to cater to children's needs as well as mine.

Shop A will not repair frames from Big Boxes, Shop C will. As a customer, I have a frame that was crappy work and I want it repaired but not by the big box who originally did it. I go into shop A and am told no to the repair but I will reframe it for you. I leave and go to shop C, they say sure no problem I will repair it....Who am I going to bring my future business to?

My point is, and was before, that many of us have policies and attitudes that could very well make a customer go elsewhere, yet we are more than happy to throw out the "I've never lost any customers because of...." statement.

And yes we have sent letters to customers who have not returned before asking them why. And yes I do survey our market finding out who is familar with my shop and why they have or have not purchased with us. It is good to know what you are doing that is good and what is bad, that way you can improve on both.
 

HannaFate

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For all I know, a customer that drops in, looks around, leaves, and never comes back, has trivial reasons. People are like that. They take offense at a hairstyle, a turn of phrase, or the temperature you set your thermostat at. Is that "losing a customer"? Nah... there are always going to be some who have unaccountable reasons for not doing business with you, that you cannot predict.

Anyone who is willing to give my business a try, will find me friendly, helpful, and willing to give them a fair deal. I can't go beyond that.

If they want me to cut my prices (which are already the lowest in town for matting and shrink wrapping) they will just have to be disappointed. If, for some reason, I can't give them what they want, I am happy to refer them to someone else who might be able to.

Yes, I occasionally turn a customer away, rather than give a discount or take an order I am not sure I can finish properly. But, I try not to send them away empty handed. I send them away with at least a referral.

Have I "lost a customer"? I don't think so.

An order that winds up being done at a loss hardly counts as an order, and sets a precedent the customer will expect every time. Someone who leaves without placing an order, but also with a good feeling about the place, may come back with something that you CAN do for them.
 

Paul N

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Originally posted by DTWDSM:
Ok, Paul, calm down and take a few breaths. All I asked was a question and did not want to pick on anyone here. This was meant to be a thought provoking question.

Tim:

I was really calm (I am always calm, as a matter of fact!). I was just wondering what you meant by that.
 

Bob Carter

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Hey Tim-When I saw your post, I thought to myself that poor Tim will get it now. I understand your question and think everyone in Business should know that answer. Marc Bluestone has a feedback card that even asks that question.

Good operators ask themselves those types of questions that really don't need public answers. But, bet the farm you will have predictable answers on why we never seem to do anything that might need a little introspection

Paul, I think you are a good operator, but to become an even better one, we should always be looking for ways to improve. I am with Tim and thinking it is a fair question and the answer is designed to help you.

I think it really is helpful to try and determine what it is that resonates with my particular clientele. They better that I know them, the better I can serve them and, thus, "not lose" them

Perhaps a more direct question might be "Since I do everything very well, how come my sales aren't at least double the national average"?

And, honest, that is not directed to anyone and has no hidden agenda
 

Jay H

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I think policies should only prevent us from losing money. I don't think they should prevent work.

A "satisfaction guaranteed" policy could go either way. Sure it could cost you some money. If customers are constantly unhappy and you end up changing enough pieces that you lose money, perhaps you should be selling cars anyway. It could also be a great selling point.

The thing is that you won't know until you try. However I have found this topic almost taboo. The neat thing about owning a business is that you can change this policy in .05 seconds. So why not try?

Tim some of the "rules" we hear just make me wonder what I'm doing wrong. If I had such rules, I'm certain I would starve absolutely to death.

We all have a customer or two that comes in every other month and still hasn’t given enough work to pay for an hour of labor. However, she has friends. Some of her friends aren’t so frugal. If a policy prevents you from helping the odd frugal customer, then you have certainly lost her friends, family, pastor, knitting club, anybody in line with her at the grocery store, dentist, and on and on.

I’d rather cut the Walmart frame down an inch. No I’m not going on vacation from the sale. I might go on vacation off her referrals though.

The cow poop comes with the cow.
 

Rick Granick

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I don't post any rules, or even have any that are set in stone. I like to be accommodating if possible, for the reasons others have outlined above. If there's something I can't (or don't want to) do, I'll give someone information to help them solve their problem. That way I am still of service to them, which hopefully they will remember.
If someone wants me do do something unethical I will <strike>refuse</strike> beg off, but calmly explain why. If they want some kind of unreasonable or unwise repair I may do the same, but I may explain that it would be more cost-effective to start over with new.
Basically, I try to be a "yes" person rather than a "no" one.
:cool: Rick
 

RoboFramer

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Policy signs that start with "WE DO NOT" or "WE WILL NOT" definitely lose you custom.

My initial market research involved going to framers and asking for quotes, I didn't have anything to show them - I was 'Just passing' and their shop 'reminded me' of that photo I took, that cross stitch my niece sent me, it was ... oooooh - so big, that by that much - hands outsretched.... OK it was .... about as big as... yes.... that picture over there... how much would that be then?

One place had a sign "WE CANNOT GIVE ACCURATE QUOTES FOR FRAMING UNLESS THE ITEM FOR FRAMING IS BROUGHT IN"

It turns out the operative word in this very aggressive-sounding sign is "ACCURATE"

I know what I will not (normally) do and I know what I do not LIKE doing, but I keep it to myself, there will always be exceptions.

(Usually brought in by petite blondes that come in their workout gear!)

We have all PO'd customers though, even if only because they are PO'd people before they even set foot through the door.

"Ha - knew it would cost an arm and a leg" against "Ha - much cheaper than the last place - MUST be crap!"

[ 04-30-2006, 08:26 PM: Message edited by: RoboFramer ]
 

DTWDSM

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Bob, I knew what I was getting myself into, no big deal.

Jay, satifaction guaranteed policy will put you (and anyone who uses it) ahead of their competition. Sure it does cost you some money when there is a problem but in all reality if you are a good framer and designer, you should not have very many of those problems. (When I say "you" please nobody take this personally)

We started a craftmanship and design guarantee approx 4 years ago, we probably have 4-5 customers a year take us up on it.

As for rules Jay, From what I can tell you don't seem to be doing anything wrong at all.

"Perhaps a more direct question might be "Since I do everything very well, how come my sales aren't at least double the national average"? Bob, how come you can ask a question like this and nobody gets defensive????
 

Val

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Originally posted by Bob Carter:
Perhaps a more direct question might be "Since I do everything very well, how come my sales aren't at least double the national average"?

Bob, what is the national average now? And would that be per job? Per week? Month? Year? And how can we find out? That's a great qustion to ask ourselves. I'd settle for "equal to" the national average, but how would I know? And I also know that "settling for" is dangerous, so I hereby take back that statement. Oops, it just flew right out of my mouth.Bad habit, that negativity stuff.
 

BUDDY

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Tim I am not sure i am going to express your concerns directly but i think I am. It always bothered me that i knew there was no such thing as customer LOYALTY. But IMHO that could be at the heart of your question. Some could esily feel that if they see customer a once a month or even once in a while they still have that customer's loyalty. when in truth they may pop in occasionally to se "what's new" but frequent other shops more often.

This may be true even if they do make an occasional purrchase .You just don't normally know if they are going else where unless you personally see them they tell you or ( as was discussed on HH) the competitor calls you to get information on hat you did for this client. All of which are real possibilities and all of which may be losing sale to your shop with out your knowledge in some cases.

So counting on someone throwing a tirade and storming out of your shop isn't the only thing thatmay indicate your are losing their sales, and many of them you will have NO PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE OF.

However the positive portion of this question might be how do I guarantee that customers are happy and tell others how they feel.

Maybe a insentive program for new customer referals? I am not sure but most people won't refer you to a friend if they aren't happy and if they aren't completely happy you can expect that they do visit other shops and probaly won't tell you when they do.
BUDDY
 

Steph

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The only sign I have up right now is a 25.00 gift certificate for referrals. Its worked out great. Other than that I have no policies. Other than my personal on e that I verbalize. "Why not I'll try anything once" I am more concerned with getting customers in the door and doing everything I can to hope they will return. I'm very pleased with my rate of return numbers. But as my daddy always told us kids when he looked at our report cards. "There's always room for improvement" God I always hated that, he even said it when I came home with staight A+'s one time!

But guess what it stuck with me and it is so important to constantly take close looks at your business witha critical eye.Walk in and pretend your a customer and see what kind of impression your place gives.

Try and keep tehm coming back always, but there are no guarentees they will. Its not unheard of for a customer to use 2-3 different shops. The key is to try and keep that from happening without slitting your own throat
 

Bob Carter

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Hey Steph-May I disagree with your statement of "It's not unheard of for a customer to use 2-3 different shops"? It may not be unheard of, but I must say I sure hope it isn't true here

I have no data to dispute that claim, butassume it valid. Doesn't thatscare you?

If we know that the average consumer uses a custom frame shop less than two times a year and we are dividing that by 2/3, that is a giant failure in my opinion

It sure seems that if I could identify the reasons why I was only able to capture that client 1/3 of the time and corrected that defeciency I could easily extend my volume significantly. Are you suggesting that there are things that your competition does better than you (and possibly two competitors) and you cannot or will not do?

I would recommend that you identify the top three reasons why someone would use someone else and work on "re-capturing" that part of the biz. rest assured, your competition is probably doing the same to their "1/3" portion

Hey Val-If you are a PPFA member, or have taken any of my classes or read almost any of my posts here, you know that those Sales Figures are readily available. If no one shares them I'll email you Tuesday
 

Jim Miller

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Originally posted by Rick Granick:
I don't post any rules, or even have any that are set in stone. I like to be accommodating if possible... Rick
That's the philosophy I started out with in 1988, and it worked beautifully for about 6 years. Then one day a lady bought a custom built, special-order, closed-corner frame. As I recall, the price was about $1,000.

When it arrived she happily paid the balance and took it home, obviously pleased with her purchase. Me too.

Next day, hubby brought it back for a refund because he changed her mind about the frame. No problem with it; he just wanted to return it.

I explained that because it was custom built and special-ordered, that it was not returnable. He was adamant, so I agreed to refund whatever the manufacturer would allow, less return shipping cost. No, he wanted a full refund on the spot. I declined as delicately as I could, resisting the urge to tote his sorry soul to the door.

The customer declined the credit card charge and filed a BBB complaint against my store. The BBB mediator told him he was wrong, and the credit card company refused his dispute. We got the money.

In the end, he agreed to accept that partial refund, but was not satisfied because we had no policy posted. I could not return the frame to its maker, but later sold it to another customer at a reduced price.

That episode taught me the value of posting policies. My lawyer told me I was lucky the customer didn't file a small claim. He said that in the absence of a written policy, the court usually gives the consumer his way.

In other words, if we don't develop and post fair policies, our customers may do it for us, to their liking.

Our framed Policy Statement hangs inconspicuously in the shadow of an easel near the door, clearly visible to anyone who cares to read it. Nobody has ever commented on our policies, so I don't have any idea whether any customer has felt alienated by them -- or even read them. My suspicion is that reasonable customers would appreciate that we have rules, and that they are clearly posted.
 

Paul N

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Jim:

Your story should really be a lesson for every who doesn't post such a policy.

I am one of them....do you mind sharing the wording so we don't have to re-invent the wheel.??

I plan to post one ASAP. Not that we had such returns, but you never know.

Thanks!
 

Steph

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Ok Bob maybe that was too much of a blanket statemnet, but I tink that we are kidding ourselves if we think all customers are loyal. I worked a t a 5 store operation for many years and them a small high end. Both in the same community that my shop is in. I was surprised to see time and time again customers who I knew from the five stroe operation come to the high end one. Or even 'friends' of the owner of the 5 stores shopping at the other.

What I found is much like what you suggested they shopped at different ones to get different things. As a couple of the customers pointed out to me, they frmaed their more valuable art at the hig end, and their posters at the other.

I took a lot from those experiences, and have been trying to put myself out there as the place to go for both. I don't want to be the shop that slams out metal frame job anfter metal frame job. But will I offer it heck yes. I have specifically set myself up as that , but also the shop that offers services that the other shops in my area do not. Fortunately for me that word is getting out. Sometimes my competition sends customers here because of that. My point is don't fool yourself, and think that it can't happen. When many of these customers saw me working at the high end place they looked sheepish that I just caught them with their pants down. and were trying to explain to me that they liked everyone at the opther place, they just were looking for something different.

So I agree with you. But I am not suggesting that there are frame shops out there doing something better than me or that I won't offer. I'm suggesting that because of what I experienced in talking with these customers, that I am the one who will do something differnt and better because of it!

Like I said I have been extremely pleased with the rate of return and the referrals I have been getting. But that doesn't mean for one second I should rest on my aurels
 

Jim Miller

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Originally posted by Paul N:
...do you mind sharing the wording so we don't have to re-invent the wheel.??
If I shared the exact wording, it might mislead some framers into thinking that I know what I'm doing, or that they should have the same policies, or that the law would smile upon those policies in their businesses -- none of which is necessarily true.

My suggestion is to develop your own policies based on the way you operate your business, and then have your lawyer review them before posting. That way, you will be sure to have appropriate policies, and they will pass legal muster in your jurisdiction.
 

Cliff Wilson

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Val,

Last I knew, the national average was in the 155k - 157k range. I don't have the survey handy to check on that. Bob probably does.

I can throw my anecdotal evidence behind Steph's statement. I have some "regulars" who I have seen in aother shops in the area. I make a habit of visiting whenever I can. To stay friendly, for all kinds of reasons, but, the key point here is I HAVE seen "my" customers in other frame shops. I have seen them in my shop afterward. I don't know how often this happens, but it's clear, although I try to have something for the "all" shoppers, people DO go to more than one shop. I had one customer tell me they came to me for the "good" stuff and to Shop A for "cheap" metal poster frames. I asked them to let me price compare to the last one they had done. I was 10% less. So, now they bring their posters here. How many others have I not gotten to? Lots! no question.
 

Bob Carter

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See, Cliff took my class and he knows. He is right on the money

And Steph, I know there are services we don't do (like shrink wrapping) and a client that needs that will probably have to go elsewhere. But, if we had much demand for s/w then I might consider offering it again

The key is if we are abdicating entire segments (and I think we do) we need to re-examine those losses. Like Cliff's perfect example, there really isn't a good reason that this customer should go "elsewhere" for their poster framing

It just makes good sense to retain as much as possible. If there are customers that go elsewhere in this market for somethings an dthey stumble into our shops, I want to be as accomodating as possible to capture as much as I can

There probably are no better target customers than those that go to other frameshops. Are they loyal? Only as loyal as I can keep them

Great post, Cliff
 

Val

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Thanks Cliff, and thank you too, Bob. I just recently re-joined PPFA a few weeks ago, after many years absence from being a frame shop owner.

I've just discovered TG last winter, so I've been trying to really concentrate on the business posts. Pretty overwhelming, and difficult to remember everything. I guess I should just take notes! Bob,I'll spend some time searching for your posts, maybe I'll learn from them better if I can isolate them. I'd love to take your classes in the near future.

I do have questions abt the nat'l average figure and how it applies to a very small business like mine, based on demographics? # of employees? etc. Do you have literature available, or tapes of your classes that I might purchase? That 155-157K figure scared me to death! I realize it's an AVERAGE figure, so how we do we know where we fit in, and what to expect from a business the size of mine? If you have the time, an e-mail with more info such as this would be helpful. Thanks!

I have so much catching up to do, as well as framing! So little time! I'm already up to my eyeballs in it, dreaming about it at night, Grumbling most of the time I'm not at the shop, or on breaks when I am. But I know this is what it takes right now if I expect our business to be successful.

I also realize that a key point to a successful business is...growth! And growing we are. With "growing pains". I can't believe we've only just completed our 4th month here! Our building neighbors said today they've never seen this place so busy in the 8 yrs it's been here, not even close. I'm getting ready to hire another framer, and just got a bookkeeper. I can't do it all!!! POS will be installed in a couple of weeks. Expanding our inventory. Frames, art, frames, framing.

In spite of, or because of, all the busy-ness...I'm Soooo Happy!! :D
 

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Originally posted by BUDDY:
It always bothered me that i knew there was no such thing as customer LOYALTY.
I must respectfully disagree. There's a great book on it, Jeffrey Gitomer's Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. Was just reading it yesterday while waiting for my car to be serviced. I don't know why I mention it - I certainly don't want my competitor(s) reading it...
 
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