Rules For Self-Employed People

Friday, 2007-February-23 at 18:48 1 comment

I often read stories about the customer always being right.  For example, Joel Spolsky, someone I respect and very often agree with, is wrong on this one.  Ryan Carlson was on the receiving end of some mistreatment.  While I personally believe he could have waited a little longer before he fired his customer, the fact is, mistreatment of someone that cannot retalliate is just like domestic abuse, only it is outside of the family.

Standard Deviation » Blog Archive » A Freelance Programmer’s Manifesto
Standard Deviation: Why I’m Assertive With Clients

This manifesto is a list of things.  It does not matter whether I agree with them or not.  What matters is the thought behind them.  If you are in business or planning to get into business, you need to read these rules and think about how you can apply some of the ideas behind them to your business.

Some customers will cost you more in headaches than you can ever make up in sales to them.  They cannot always bring in referals either, since that kind of meanness tends to chase off anyone who has the choice about whether to be near them.

Note, if you have employees, you need to set and stick to some limits to what customers can do.  Win or lose, litigation because you caused an employee to be subjected to abuse will affect your ability to recruit talent.  It may also affect the kinds and number of customers you attract in the future.

We all know that everyone has bad days.  You do not need to dump every customer that has a bad day.  However, the abusive one, specifically the repeat abuser, needs to be escorted off the premises with a warning to never return.  If you allow a customer to get away with abusing your employees, those employees will repay this mistreatment on someone else and your business’s reputation for quality, friendly service will be affected.  For the serial abuser, ask the person to take his or her business elsewhere.  Put them on a “do not serve” list.

I was the shift manager on duty at a fast food place several years ago, when someone came through the drivethrough and made a suggestive comment toward a (female) employee.  She used the “SH-word” in telling me that she would quit on the spot if she had to serve him.  It was an easy choice.  I told him that I wasn’t about to get fired because he harassed my people, so he was no longer welcome in our restaurant.  He threatened to call the corporate office.  I wrote down the number, gave him my name, and told him I would call and report the incident myself.  Funny thing.  I never heard back from him or the corporate office.

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1 Comment

  • 1. warren  |  Friday, 2007-February-23 at 19:51

    Hi! Thanks for reading the manifesto.

    You’re quite right, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether or not anyone agrees with me, these are simply the rules I operate by.

    Some organisations have mission or value statements, some have policy and procedure manuals. I have the manifesto. Its value lies not in the words themselves, but as you say the thinking that was required to arrive at them.

    One size doesn’t fit all, but hopefully by imagining how you would respond in such a situation, you can develop your own set of rules for business. The worst thing anyone can do when starting out is go in thinking that it’s all going to go smoothly, such idealism invariably leads to heart ache in the long term.


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