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Discussion Starter #1
I have been in business for over 15 years. I try to make customers happy no matter the cost. I had this customer come in over a month ago asking about Nike golf shirts for a golf tournament. He his representing a non profit organization. So the fact that he wanting a discount should not alter your judgment. He has spent $3,500 over the past 4 years. That comes to $875 a year, take out cost of apparel we are at $437, now take out labor and over head and I might make $100 a year on this customer. He asks for a sample shirt in which we supply, we call two weeks later to check status of order. No answer, we leave a message on his cell he does not return our call. We try another week later same result. So today he calls and ask if we can print 40 shirts and have them ready by next friday (asking if we can do them at a discount). My manager ask about the golf shirts. He replies he cannot discuss that now he is too busy. My manager ask me what to do, I tell him to tell the customer that we can print the shirts for our standard cost and add the cost of the golf shirts to his bill. He calls the customer and his reply is that he thought that we gave him the golf shirts as a service. That they have been in the back of his car for a month and he will return them. Our answer is that is too late you must pay for the golf shirts. Now he thinks that is unfair, said he will pay for the golf shirt but take is business elsewhere. The golf shirts cost me $50, the profit on the 40 shirts is less than $50. The problem is that this customer is going to tell everybody his side of the story and trash my business name. What do you do?
 

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Let him go. Sounds like he knew exactly what he was doing, putting you in a tough situation. Some people are slimy. We work for non-profits here all the time, and of course we get asked for discounts and exceptions. We do what we can; within reason. Sometimes we knock a percentage off our mark-up on t-shirts, or give them a little better cost on printing, but we are a business. We need to make money, and these organizations understand this (at least the credible ones). This guy wasted your time, tried to weasel free stuff from you, and sounds dishonest. I'm sure you're not the first he has done this to, and I'm sure it won't be the last. If you're really concerned about a negative review, contact some of your best customers and ask them to send you a review of their own, ours have been posted on google and they come up right after you search us. Anyone with half a brain will realize there is always one or two bad experiences that can happen in business, and if you do great work, it should speak for itself. Good luck! And don't let it get ya down!
 

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Remember that HE is the non profit, not YOU. YOU decide what profit you want/need to make, then set your prices. If you get the job then Great! you made some money. If you don't get the job then that is Great! too... you didn't LOSE any money. There is no profit in working for no profit.

Do not confuse "non profit" with "we do not have money".

It is our jobs to make sure he stays a non profit by spending his money...

When you give out samples you should charge for them and maybe give a credit back when the order comes in, or let him see them in your shop. Or... do what San Mar does... Grommeted Samples (but on the front collar!!)
 

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Mike, I'd say it cost $50 to get rid of a problem customer, which is more than likely the cheaper route than if you had done an actual job for him.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Losing the customer does not bother me. Any customer complaining about my service (wrongly I might add) pisses me off. This customer won't tell everyone that I personally gave to his charity, Let him go several months late on paying a bill and discounted jobs for him in the past. It's funny that people are quick to complain but slow to compliment. I have not lost any sleep over this customer or any other customer I have lost due to their ignorance. It was just funny what he expected from me for free with out asking. I have found out that I am not the first person he has done similar things too.
 

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Agreed, let him go...while he may tell everyone his side of the story you have no control over that and you know the truth, the next business he deals with will have the same problems as you did. It won't take long and he'll be back because no one works for free/no profit and stays in business.

I know it's tuff we all want to give our customers the best possible work at a price where everyone is happy, unfortunately in the "real world" you can't make every customer 100% happy and still stay in business, the chiselers will always try to get "free stuff" with the promise of a big order just around the corner, truth is it rarely happens.

We all hate to loose customers, and one that is going to run his mouth with half-truths to further his cause isn't any fun, but you have to step back, you did what was right by the customer and your business at the end of the day that is all that matters.

Hope this helps.
 

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Mike, it is impossible to please every person that walks through your door. You can do everything right on your part, even go above what would be fair and normal, but some people are not reasonable and you can't make them happy unless you take it in the shorts for them.

You can't worry about him bad mouthing you either. This is just going to happen from time to time and it is out of your control. What good does it do to worry about something you can't control. Even if you did what he wanted this time, he will just come up with some other unreasonable scenario next time and bad mouth you then. You will have to quit that customer some day, might as well be now. He will end up bad mouthing every single printer he come in contact with eventually and I'm sure the people who know him know that he is not easy to get along with. It will not hurt your business if you have a few people saying stuff about your company but you have 15 years worth of very happy customers saying the others are full of it. Everyone who provides a service deals with this. Don't let the door hit him in the butt too hard!
 

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I'm just about to the point with non-profits where I'm either going to flat out GIVE a job away or simply pass. Every time someone calls and starts the conversation with, "We're a non-profit" red flags go up. I'd rather they come out and say, "Can you donate the shirts?" At least they'd be more honest.
I was asked for my "best price" or, better yet, a sponsorship, on softball team tees for a co-worker with my wife. I'd done some work for the woman before, and she was bellyaching about how expensive it was to form up the softball team. The job was one-color front, names and numbers on the backs. I told her the best I could offer was to do the job at my material costs. There were to be 18 shirts. She gives me a list of 14 names and tells me to just do the remaining 4 with numbers only and gives me the sizes. I get the job to her, and the following week she informs me that I'd missed 4 names. BS. I had the list she gave me, and the "missed names and numbers" weren't on it. What I'm sure happened was that the other 4 people hadn't given her names and numbers, and now they didn't want to pay for shirts with just a number that they hadn't picked, but here she was willing to screw me out of $18 for HER mistake. I had to order more heat-press vinyl to do the 4 new names and numbers, so now I'm out money instead of breaking even on materials. I had her emails, but figured if I called her on her lie, that she'd be in a position at work to bad-mouth me to others there for whom I also do work for. I did the shirts, didn't mention her underhanded treatment of me, but I'll be damned if she'll get any more work out of me, paid or otherwise. She's simply a cheat.
 

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Ahhh the dreaded please help our kids with sponsorship, been down that road many many times, we have provided everything from signage to uniforms for teams and groups and as far as I can tell from a business perspective it never created one thin dime of revenue for us as a sponsor. While I do believe we should help kids whenever we can it's the parents that make empty promises of more business if you can help us out on this one....for us it never happens, we only now sponsor individual kids in sports, never a team, it's more rewarding, more appreciated, and we still feel we are doing something to help our community.

Hope this helps.
 

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Why are we working for free? If someone wants a donation or "sponsorship" I simply delete the email or tune them out. I don't care if it's to feed the hungry or to help the children ( in which in the all have money but don't want to shell it out). If I have into this type of stuff I'd be the one on the side of the street begging for money!

This industry has to grow some balls. Since every freakin printer seems to have a heart and is wiling to work for free, it's no wonder every joe on the street asks for sponsorships.
 

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I'm just about to the point with non-profits where I'm either going to flat out GIVE a job away or simply pass. Every time someone calls and starts the conversation with, "We're a non-profit" red flags go up. I'd rather they come out and say, "Can you donate the shirts?" At least they'd be more honest.
Ahhh the dreaded please help our kids with sponsorship, been down that road many many times, we have provided everything from signage to uniforms for teams and groups and as far as I can tell from a business perspective it never created one thin dime of revenue for us as a sponsor.
Why are we working for free? If someone wants a donation or "sponsorship" I simply delete the email or tune them out. I don't care if it's to feed the hungry or to help the children ( in which in the all have money but don't want to shell it out). If I have into this type of stuff I'd be the one on the side of the street begging for money!
I am heavily involved in the Christian community, sometimes I just want to puke because of the way too many of these so called "Christians" seem to be the most manipulative and cheap people on the planet. Oh boy, do I wish they practiced what they preach! Me, also being a Christian and involved in a lot of ministry, I do not give a discount of any kind to a non-profit. Just because they don't have to pay taxes does not mean they don't have money. Non-profits need to bless everyone they come in contract with, not just their little special group that they have decided they want to minister to. It is not just Christian non-profit organizations I'm sure, those are just the ones I have experience with.

As you can see, I am very tired of the bad and poor image that these "Christian" non-profits, that I deal with, portray to the rest of the world. And I am a total hard core Christian!
 

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This was a person I'd done a job for at a high school for a club that was paid. She wanted a good price, so I did her a favor. What chapped my a$$ in the end was her crying about the cost of playing softball. I figured up her cost of her membership, added what I charged her for her shirt, and it came to less than $25!!! Hell, if you can't spring for $25 to play in a women's softball league, you don't need to be playing softball. Since she was a former customer, I thought I'd do her a favor, and I had leftover stock in my shop for the whole job, at least until she BS'd me with the claim that I'd cheated her out of 4 shirts. She'll be needing a new sucker next season.
 

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Let them walk.... oh well. I've learned long ago that people who do stuff like that mainly deal with other people who are the same way, so he's doing you a favor by turning his peers away, that's a couple hundred people you don't have to go through the same thing with. Anybody above and beyond his level of BS knows he's a BSer and only half trusts what he says anyways, so even if he were to confidently urge people to come to you, they may well avoid you because he mentioned you. Just keep it moving, don't worry about him. People know when they're wrong and you can see it in their story when they're complaining.
 

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Let him go and talk his troubles elsewhere. If there was one thing I have learned in all my years running and starting companies it is that there is too much business out there for one person to handle and you should welcome competition. Let him go and spread "bad words" about you, but as soon as the next merchandise company hits the same issues with him they will find why the last guy dropped him. For the time and worry you spend on this guy you could spend it on 10-15 other clients with ease.
 

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I work as a business consultant, specialising in branding and marketing. The key to branding is often overlooked, it isn't just about design, and sadly isnt just about quality of product (although it helps)...it's about customer relationships. How often can you think of a product you buy out of customer loyalty and why? Can you think of a product you simply wont buy because you have bad experience with customer relations?

This isn't a loyal customer, this is a customer who isn't appreciating the efforts you've made to meet his needs, and probably never did? Chances are he's always griped in some way and yet come back time and again? Seriously, from a business point of view? It does more damage to keep that unhappy customer than let him move on (gladly!) ASAP...yes he will gripe, but soon? Yesterdays news! You can stand one unhappy SOB (who by the way perfectly understands that not for profit doesnt mean they don't make profit! - They have to just like everybody else or they don't have a solvent business) diluting the waters a little with his complaints for a very short lived period of time when you have x amount of happy customers telling it like it is.
 
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