So 2 months ago I spent a good amount of time scraping 20 layers of peeling paint off the wood siding of a house originally built in 1908. It wasn't much fun. The homeowner suggested I try her fancy scrapers. I politely took them, eventually tried them for a few minutes and quickly dismissed them as not much better than my trusty old standard scrapers. Promptly went back to what was familiar. Familiarity feels good.
Fast forward two weeks...
Last week on the blog we looked at Red Flags - signs that the project ahead may get stressful.
This week let's consider what could be another early sign that your prospective client may not be a good fit for your business.
If your client right away attempts to turn your service into a commodity by asking what you charge per square foot, or how much you charge per hour, this could be a clear sign that their project won't be a good fit for your business.
After over a decade of dealing with a variety of customers and situations, I've learned the hard way to recognize 'red flags' that potentially pose a risk to my business and peace of mind. The best protection I have found is to avoid working for certain prospects and projects. The 3 main red flags that I pick up on are:
1. Unreasonable expectations. A year a half ago I received a phone call that perfectly illustrates this red flag. In the middle of peak season a lady called and asked if we are available to paint the interior of her house in short order. She needed it done in two weeks. But there was a catch - she was on a very tight budget. Normally I like to look at every job, but I didn't think there was any way we could squeeze it in and the low margin was not an incentive to even try. Out of curiously I asked what the size of the house was. She replied 5000 square feet. That was pretty much the end of the conversation. For our small and busy business there was no way we could even think of taking this on. Going any further would have been a complete waste of both of our time.
When I started my business I had a very keen desire to help everyone and try to take on every job. This was not modest and it exposed me to quite a bit of stress and risk. As a rule of thumb a job consists of three factors - quality, scheduling and cost. I can usually accommodate 2 out of 3 (as long as one factor is quality). If someone expects all three, or makes other unreasonable demands, it's time to reset expectations or walk away...