Do You Turn Down the WRONG Client?

Do you turn down the wrong client? I’m not talking about the crazy client… the one with “red flags”. (I hope you know to turn those down already.) I’m talking about the client that just isn’t a good fit. I’m talking about the client who is going to require that you do work out of your realm, out of your specialty, out of your style or aesthetic. This is the client that you don’t want any photos of their event associated with your business.

Do you turn down those people?  You should.

I know. You’ve got to feed your family. But, here’s the thing…

When you work with the wrong client your business suffers in these ways:

  • Doing work you don’t enjoy doing
  • Doing work that is likely substandard
  • Detracts attention from your right clients (which can lead to servicing your right clients poorly)
  • Your reputation suffers from doing substandard work
  • Your word-of-mouth can suffer from the poor reputation

    … and – simply – you will likely give off negative energy that comes with being annoyed from working on an event your not excited about.

When people start to turn away the wrong client, it can be scary. The first thought is that business is being lost. But, here’s the thing… when you turn away bad business, good business is attracted to you. If you focus ONLY on the clients that you want to work with and are able to service them to your max potential, you’ll begin to attract that client more often than the others. You will become better known for doing amazing work. And, you’ll love the work you do.

What are your thoughts on this? Have you turned away a client who wasn’t a good fit? Share in a comment below.

How Do You Say “I’m Sorry”?

As a business owner, how do you say “I’m Sorry”?

When a client comes to you with something you’ve made (or serviced them with) that they feel is inadequate, how do you respond?

Here’s the thing…

A TRUE apology needs to accept full responsibility. There should be NO justification for what happened. (This is when someone tries to justify the misunderstanding or error. “I’m sorry that you didn’t understand.”) And, to best service the customer, the next step is working towards a solution.

  • I am sooooo sorry.
  • I’m responsible.
  • I will take care of this.
  • This is really frustrating. Let’s solve the problem.

Here’s the other thing…

Most people don’t want conflict. (*most* – not all) So, when they buy something that is faulty or are serviced inadequately, they want solution. Saving the relationship is critical which is why you have to accept full responsibility.  Moving towards the solution is going to help both parties feel at peace.

This is NECESSARY even when you aren’t wrong. Even if you know you’re right… assuming you want to preserve the relationship and your sanity… and assuming you want to move forward, a true apology is a must.

When you’re not wrong…

You have a choice to make. It’s simple:

  • Is it worth the relationship to work this out?

With a client relationship, I find that it’s worth working out 99% of the time, even if they are wrong.

Even if you are NOT in the wrong, you make it need to take charge. You are in control of this situation. Man up!

About taking responsibility…

Here’s an example of something that happened to me a few years ago with a wedding invitation client…

The client placed her order, reviewed everything, signed off on the proof (which specified flat printing.) When she received the order, she was so disappointed because she thought it was going to have thermography printing.

Needless to say, when she phoned me I knew this was going to be a challenge and I got a lump in my throat. The client clearly approved something. She was so unhappy about it, I knew I needed to take responsibility and not with a weak apology.

“I am soooo sorry. I did review the contract and you signed for flat printing. HOWEVER, I accept full responsibility for this. I know this is not what you expected from us. I do remember you talking about thermography printing. I want to solve this for you. This is what we can do…”

I reprinted the order and charged her a little more than my cost. Sure – I didn’t make much money on this job. But, I salvaged the relationship. And, when reputation in this industry is based on relationships, this was worth the cost of reprinting the order.

Taking responsibility means that you are in charge. You have an opportunity to make a bad thing better. How are you going to do it?

And here’s another thing…

It opened my eyes. I realized that my proof/contract process was confusing to some people. I reworked it – and made sure that there was an initial next to each section ensuring that people would read every detail much closer. I could have been stubborn with this client and said “Whoops – this is your fault. The proof was clearly signed by you.” But, by softening my defenses, not only was I able to salvage this relationship, I was able to improve as a business owner. Change is good.

Has this happened to you?  When have you had to say “I’m Sorry” to a client? How did it go? Share with us in a comment below.

PS – I just want to make it clear… this isn’t about being walked on by your clients. If this sort of thing happens a lot, you should revisit our posts on client management

Damage Control

Outstanding customer service isn’t just about meeting client demands. Outstanding customer service is about solving problems, fixing mistakes, and good ol’ fashioned damage control. In an ideal world problems don’t happen. We know that isn’t the case in the real world. And, we know that no wedding is without its series of unforeseen events. What separates the best wedding pros from the rest?

Damage control.

Do you have the reflexes, quick thinking, and creativity to solve a problem in a flash. And can you do so with all over you sanity and peace-of-mind intact, in a calm cool manner?

These are the situations that will get your clients talking about you to their friends and family. “And – Oh my god! The cake arrived and one side of the frosting was all mashed! I couldn’t believe it. I was about to freak out crying when Sally, our amazing wedding planner, told me ‘no sweat’. She grabbed a few flowers from a centerpiece and was able to pop them into the cake. The cake looked gorgeous – as if it was supposed to have those flowers. I couldn’t believe she thought of that! I’m so glad I hired her. She saved the day!”

Weddings are high stress. (Yeah – I get it – it’s not brain surgery. Try telling that to the bride. It’s a once in a lifetime event and there’s a lot at stake.) How able are you to cope with the stress of this job? This job depends on it!

 

Regaining Your Self-Worth After Working with a Difficult Client

Ever work with a condescending client?  You know… the person that intends to micromanage every step of your performance?  It creates for a miserable working situation!  This week, we are having a series of posts, written by Dina Eisenberg, Founder of Positively Wed, an educational resource for wedding professionals.  This week she addresses the concerns of how to avoid working with difficult clients, and how to make the difficult relationships more peaceful.

Now that you understand bullies a little better because of yesterday’s post, let’s build in some compassion for you, too.  There is nothing worse than second guessing yourself and feeling miserable.  When you’re in the midst of a tussle with bride, you’re bound to feel a little hurt or insecure.  And, having to fix a mistake or possibly ‘fire’ a client might leave you reeling with doubt. So, for the last post in this series, let’s talk about how to regain your confidence quickly after something goes awry.

Are you a Snapshot or Video?

Each one of us has something I call your core identity.  It’s who you believe you are at the deepest level of your being.   For instance, I know I’m honest, thoughtful, fun and caring.  For you, you might say you’re cheerful or powerful or kind or organized.

Quick, in your mind’s eye think of a picture of yourself.  I’m betting you saw a snapshot of you at a certain age.  (I used to picture myself at 22 but since 40 is the new twenty, I’m going with that ;))  That’s how we tend to think of ourselves- as a snapshot in time.  Like a Polaroid picture.  However, it’s more accurate to see yourself as a video- moving, changing with every minute.

When you hold onto a static image of yourself, one that’s inflexible, it becomes very difficult to deal with an integrity attack skillfully.  What is an integrity attack?

Losing Your Balance

Have you ever walked down the street then suddenly tripped over seemingly nothing on the concrete?  Or maybe you were traveling on a boat or cruise and experienced a momentary swell that took you slightly off your feet and tangled your belly?  In those moments, there’s a sense of surprise, shock, disbelief and anxiety, and an unpleasant shift in reality.

Same thing happens to each of us when someone or something threatens our core identity.  That’s an integrity attack.  Scientifically speaking, it causes a cognitive dissonance between who you think you are and who the world perceives you to be.  And, it brings on the same feelings as tripping:

Surprise What happened?

Shock How did that happen to me?

Disbelief That couldn’t be true about me?

Anxiety What if that is true about me?

When you experience an integrity attack (real or imagined). It feels awful, and it’s likely you’ll take one of two stances: maximize or minimize.

For example, say you think of yourself as a prompt person who is rarely late.  You think lateness is a sign of disrespect.  Well, your week has been crazy with rescheduling and last minute issues so you’ve been late to a few meetings.  You’re hurrying to meet your bride at the bakery for a tasting but an accident blocks traffic making you 20 minutes late.  You called, but when you arrive the bride says, ‘Gee, I guess my budget needs to be bigger if I want your full attention.’  Now, that’s an integrity attack!

Maximize:  You get totally flustered and apologize repeatedly to the bride. You call yourself an idiot and make jokes at your expense about needing a better watch. You accept all the responsibility and feel awful about being so rude.

Minimize:   You cooly brush off her comment and say you are to start tasting. Meanwhile, you wonder if you should call her on the times she’s been late to meetings or whether she could’ve gotten through traffic any better.  You didn’t cause the accident and you’re ticked.

Each reaction is an extreme, you see, on a continuum of feeling.  One end accepts all the responsibility, and the other accepts none.   And, we tend to fluctuate between them until we can regain our balance somewhere in the middle.  You can speed that process, and make yourself feel a lot better by having a Rebalancing Conversation with yourself.

Regaining Your Balance and Confidence

Simply put, the Rebalancing Conversation helps you to complexify yourself.  Yes, complexify- I made that word up.  You want to see yourself not as a static image, but as an evolving video that has a blooper track.  Recognizing that you are a much more interesting, dynamic, complicated human being than you think is a good thing.  It allows you to see your own flaws and have compassion, which in turn, allows you to have compassion for the flaws of others, namely your brides and other wedding vendors.

How do you rebalance?  You call to mind your complexity.  Let me tell you a short story about me.  Years ago, I was asked to speak at a conference in Denver, a lovely city that I’d never visited before.   I arrived in town the night before as is my custom so I could relax and prepare.  Well, shortly after arriving, I felt sick.  Nauseous, dizzy and plain crummy.

Turns out that new visitors to Denver often experienced altitude sickness that lasts about 24 hours.  Furious with myself, I ranted about how stupid I was not to check first.  How terrible my presentation would be the next day because I’d be worried about being sick on stage.  How disorganized the event was for not warning me.  I just blew up.  Then, I rebalanced.

I quietly restated my core identity-I am an organized professional who always delivers value to her audience- and allowed for more complexity:

  • I am organized, but not always.
  • I am a professional, but even professionals don’t know everything
  • I still have valuable information to offer, even if it’s not presented at my personal best level
  • I always have fun with the audience, and we will today
  • I will do my best, and that will be enough

Before I knew it I had calmed down enough to think practically about the next day.  And, I shouldn’t have worried because the presentation went great and only my contact knew that I was altitude sick.

The key part of the Rebalancing Conversation is recognizing that there are times when you are your core identity and times when you are not and accepting both.  That way, you can be more flexible.

Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is a little like expecting the bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian. ~ Dennis Wholey

How does this apply your wedding business? It’s crucial!  There will be brides (mothers, grooms, friends) who will try to take over your role or imply you’re not doing a good job.  There will be those who compare themselves to you, and say ‘I could do better.‘   You can either suffer their integrity attacks, or flow with them like Neo in the Matrix.  

Shift your focus away from their perception of reality back to your own, knowing whatever you do, you do it to the best of your abilities on any given day.

About PositivelyWed.com-

Dina Eisenberg, Founder and former attorney & mediator, teaches wedding professionals like you to speak and act with grace, power and confidence so you can fall back in love with your wedding business!  Grab her free audio, Contracts That Work, at http://PositivelyWed.com

When Your Client Acts Like a Bully

Image: Creative Commons License

Image: Creative Commons License

Ever work with a condescending client?  You know… the person that intends to micromanage every step of your performance?  It creates for a miserable working situation!  This week, we are having a series of posts, written by Dina Eisenberg, Founder of Positively Wed, an educational resource for wedding professionals.  This week she addresses the concerns of how to avoid working with difficult clients, and how to make the difficult relationships more peaceful.

Ok, in my first post, we talked about how to set expectations so you can avoid having difficult clients.  So what if you have a bridezilla or two in your book already?  No worries, I got your back.  While we could spend hours on talking about mindset, perspective, generating options and other conflict management techniques, I’m gonna go straight to the toughest people problems for most of us- bullies.  Let’s chat about what makes a bully, and then how to deal with him or her.

My Way or the Highway

Bullies are made, not born in my opinion.  I can’t imagine a tiny infant saying, ‘my way or else’.  OK, I have kids so I can, but you know what I mean.  It’s our experiences and how we handle them that shape our behaviors.  Kids don’t want to act out in less than positive ways they just haven’t learned any better.  Guess what?  Same thing is true for bullies.

Bullies don’t know more than one or two ways to get what they want in the world.  They tend to be stuck in one style of conflict resolution: competing.  (There are five styles: competing, avoiding, accommodating, compromise and collaboration)   A  person who competes believes her needs, wants, opinions should take precedence over anyone else’s.  Everyone know someone like this; in fact, a competer might be sitting in your chair.

Bully brides (or grooms) will act in  insulting or intimidating  ways if that worked in the past to get their way.   While it’s natural to want to placate this kind of groom and promise him the world, you’ll do both of you a good service if you stand your ground and try some creative problem-solving.

This is the foundation of how I deal with most situations in work or ‘in real life’.  When dealing with difficult clients, the key is to get curious about what they need (not want), then discover ways to satisfy that need.

Be Generous- Give the Benefit of the Doubt

In my book, being a bad client is kinda like having lipstick on your teeth.  You might not  know  you’re one until someone tells you.  Consequently, I tend to assume my clients don’t know they are being difficult.  Sounds ridiculous, I know.  But you probably know  a bride who was so focused on her day she forgot about every thing else and pursued it with complete dedication.  I know I had a near obsession with a certain stainless steel sink when we renovated our kitchen.  It happens.  If your bride knew a more skillful way to get what she needed besides badgering you, she’d be using it.  Be patient up to a point.

Be Positive!

Happiness finally rates a research study!  Scientist are discovering that having a positive attitude goes a long way toward being happier and resolving disputes.   You can influence others toward finding a positive resolution just be thinking it can happen.  Since over 70% of communication is non-verbal, sending a positive vibe is cooler than you might think.  Don’t be pollyanna-ish.  Just quietly be assured that if everyone tries hard a solution is possible. (Note: the solution chosen may not be your favorite.  That’s ok.  It’s their life.)

Be Curious

The best problem-solvers are curious.  When a client demands something impossible, take a minute to wonder why.  Then, simply ask.

Let me give you an example.  When my hubby and I got hitched I really wanted candlelight at our venue which was a gorgeous Victorian mansion.  It meant a lot to me to create an intimate, cozy atmosphere for our guests.  My florist was smart enough to ask me what mattered most of all to me.  So, when the fire marshall said no candles in a historic building, she understood how to create  the feeling I wanted without real candles.

Sure, you may have to say no but ask enough questions to 1) separate a strong desire from an actual need and 2) define a variety of ways to meet the need and 3) explore what happens if the need can’t be met.   There are a lot of ways to skin a cat, as the saying goes.   Ask some of my favorite questions:

  • When you say xxx, what does that mean to you?
  • What does xxx look like for you?  (i.e. elegant. What would an elegant wedding look like to you?)
  • What are the three most important things you need me to know right now?
  • If I could wave a wand, what would be the solution?
  • If that couldn’t happen, what would be next best?
  • Specifically, why won’t xxx work for  you?

Use these questions with my blessings.  I’ve discovered millions of hidden meanings and opportunities with these beauties.

Dealing with a cranky bride or overzealous groom doesn’t have to ruin your day or theirs.  You can use these tools to redirect the conversation back to something productive.  And, if all else fails, be cheered.  You don’t have to live life as that bride.

About PositivelyWed.com-

Dina Eisenberg, Founder and former attorney & mediator, teaches wedding professionals like you to speak and act with grace, power and confidence so you can fall back in love with your wedding business!  Grab her free audio, Contracts That Work, at http://PositivelyWed.com