Stupid way how to loose a client

There are many ways how to loose a client. But the most painful is when it isn’t your fault and the client is sure it was your fault. I would love to explain what happened to him, but the only explanation would be blaming his team. Which is not the best way how to win him back. So we lost him. How exactly? Could it have been prevented?

Being a manager means you have to put out fires, maybe even prevent them. But you can’t expect to prevent everything. Like this palm on fire at our condo complex, which was struck by a lightning. It was us who called 911, you kind of know when a lightning strikes next to your window.

First, it is hard to actually know you lost a client. We do a lot of low priced transactions so we can’t focus on measuring everything and everybody. Not with our size and budget. So we just eyeball it. We send invoices manually and still do it as the owners and have not given that task to our team. Why?

That way we are able to see what is going on in the company every day, without any delay. So when we see that we haven’t sent any invoice to a regular customer in a while, we reach out and ask what happened. Most of the time they just don’t have any business for us, real estate market is volatile, one month they have plenty of homes for sale, another month is either slow or they work with buyers (no business for us). But sometimes they reply that we messed something up, so we try to do a research and find out what happened. Somehow we realized this regular client haven’t ordered anything in 2 months.

In this case, the client said that we were difficult to work with in terms of scheduling. That we haven’t showed up at the last shoot, rescheduled it afterwards, etc. Which is weird, because we almost never reschedule and we usually know if it happened and give the client a discount. And I can count the instances when we haven’t showed up on a single hand. It basically doesn’t happen unless there is an accident or injury and this wasn’t the case. OK, another client once woke me up in the morning, calling where am I. I forgot to put their appointment in my calendar, but that was the early days, OK? Happened once. And I arrived there couple minutes afterwards because it was close. So that doesn’t count.

So after some research with our team, we found out where the problem was. The client actually haven’t confirmed the shoot with us so we haven’t arrived as a result. And then haven’t confirmed the new time, etc. He would know if he messed up, right? He didn’t know, because his assistant did this mess.

So when we initially called him why he is not doing business with us anymore, he asked his assistant why they are using another photographer, and she told him that we haven’t showed up, rescheduled a lot, etc. She lied to cover her back and blamed us. She wouldn’t tell him that first she forgot to confirm the shoot and then messed up the follow up. There is no way to prove that it wasn’t our fault when it was mostly phone calls. And going against the word of his assistant wouldn’t solve much.

It hurt mostly because we worked for him for more than a year, shot 37 homes for him and his team and he dumped us without any complaint or notice.

Lessons learned:

  1. Know who you are dealing with. Is it the final decision maker or just an assistant? Create a relationship with the decision maker so at least they give you a notice when something is wrong
  2. S**t happens and sometimes you can’t do much about it.

EDIT: My wife just told me that the main reason he left us and didn’t want to hear the explanation is that he was stung by a scorpion while waiting there for us during the unconfirmed appointment. So not only he looked bad in front of his clients, he was also stung because of us. That is a loose-loose situation 🙂

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