Why Say No to a Customer?
I am perplexed with that question. There are answers as to why you may not want to take on a particular customer. For example you may know that they are hard to work with, or a myriad of answers. However in this case, what happened to me the other day, I am going to talk about a commodity (basically). This story is as much of a brick and mortar lesson learned as an online store lesson.
What my Son Learned Today about Business
My son stayed home today from school and had to go to the doctor. It was nothing serious so I also decided to drop off some dry cleaning. I went to a new dry cleaner (321zips) that I had not been to before, thought I might like to try another. My son and I walked in with a load of clothes. I put them on the counter and told them I had not been there before, I was a new customer. Here is their response. “Great, let’s setup a new account. But before we do I have to tell you we are cash only” I said “Fine with me” they continued “and we also require payment before we clean your clothes”. Now I rarely have cash and in this case had only a dollar. So I am standing before them with a load of laundry willing to try their services and may become a loyal customer. They would not allow me to be a customer. They told me I had to leave as I did not have cash to pay them upfront. “What? Huh? You don’t want me? Okay, bye.” So my son and I left.
Never Let a Customer Leave
As soon as we got back in the car I had to laugh. I told my son this was one of the best lessons he could learn about business. Here we were, a potential new customer and they did not want us. I made sure he understood that I may never go back to that store again. They lost a new potential customer and if I liked their service I may have been a loyal customer for 10 or 20 years. Once he understood how crazy that was we decided to figure out ways they could of taken our money, which for some reason they did not want.
Assuming they want cash only so they can avoid credit card processing fees, I explained that they may pay (for sake of argument) 50 cents on a transaction. Therefore if we owed $20 and paid with cash they would receive a net of $20, but with a credit card only $19.50. His first idea was to just charge us $20.50 with a credit card and $20 with cash both yielding about $20. Makes sense to me, now we are a customer.
If they prefer cash, why not let me pay with the credit or debit card only for my initial visit at which time they explain it is cash going forward and next time I bring cash. This does not eliminate their need to have a credit card processing account but at least it can be a small customer acquisition cost.
As an online merchant selling goods or a service, if someone wants to become a customer let them. Give them options, as many as possible. I always like to use Go Daddy as an example, they sell domain names and make the purchase process as simple as possible. Particularly when it comes to payment, many online sites do this very well, of course online sites cannot take cash. This dry cleaner was not willing to give me any options. Fascinating. But a good lesson learned.