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How Losing a Customer Can Help
You in the Long Run

What do the following activities have in common: Golfing, fishing, vacationing, and contacting lost or unhappy customers. Give-up? They're all ideal ways to spend your free time.

Typically, dealing with an unsatisfied customer isn't the most pleasant thing to do during your off-hours, however, in a business where referrals can make or break your business, an unhappy customer can do a lot of damage.

Contacting an ex-customer can help you determine if the problem is widespread and affecting others customers. If so, you can ask them for ways to help you fix whatever is broken within your organization. Here are four things to keep in mind when contacting lost customers.

  • Before you do anything, ask yourself some simple questions. Do you want the customer back? How profitable was the customer? Did the customer conform to your company's ideal customer profile? What percentage of your total business did this customer represent and what percentage of your time was required to service their business? If you come back with positive answers to these questions, it indicates that this customer is worth pursuing. But if you're having a hard time convincing yourself that the customer was worth the hassle – then think twice before losing sleep over the situation.
  • Schedule a meeting. Once you've made the decision to try and bring a customer back, you'll want to schedule a meeting to discuss the future of the account. It's necessary to remember that convincing your customer to reverse their decision is not your ultimate goal for the meeting. Instead, you should view it as a fact-finding mission. Why did they leave – price? Quality? Was it something that can easily be corrected? The most important thing you can take away from this Q&A is finding out the likelihood of your other customers experiencing the same problem.
  • Even if you decide it's best for both you and the customer to part ways, it's imperative to still schedule a follow-up meeting. This will help you bring closure to the account and part on more professional terms. You don't want your former customers giving negative reviews to potential customers.
  • Stay in touch Some salespeople call the staying-in-touch approach “drip irrigation.” Stay close, but not so close that the customer feels pressured. You want the customer to feel missed (by continuing to include them on your direct mail campaigns, special promotions and friendly “thinking of you” letters), but avoid a full court press. You can do this by being patient, dropping the customer short notes from time to time, or even by doing unexpected small favors for the customer.
  • Always be honest. It's also vital to remember that as a contractor, you shouldn't just limit yourself to thinking only about the logistics of your business. While it's important to explain tangibles such as “price per gallon”, remember the intangibles of the job or the “human-interest” aspects of the job. Explain your charges might be more expensive than those of the competitor's. For example, if you're using a high-quality product like Flood's Tropitech Spa-N-Deck® Exterior Wood Finish, the price per gallon will be slightly higher, but the customer saves money on labor. Spa-N-Deck is a 100 percent acrylic premium quality wood coating that can be used to finish a deck in one day – saving you labor and giving your customer a beautiful deck in just half the time of most competitor's. Ultimately, being honest and upfront with your customer is the best policy.

Losing a customer can be a devastating blow to any organization, but don't exert all of your energy toward reselling a lost customer. Sometimes it's better to move on. “Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently,” said Henry Ford – a man who failed and went broke five times before finally succeeding.

This article provided courtesy of THE FLOOD COMPANY,  serving the painting industry for over 150 years. 
They are manufacturers of high quality wood finishing products, preservatives, paint additives and more!

For more information on their products and informative articles, visit their website at

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