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Paddi Pages E-Zine - Issue #5

Firing Customers -- Every Business Owner's Secret Desire!

Dear Reader,

You’ve got a decision to make!

Forgive me for being presumptuous, but I really think you do. And it’s this:

Are you in Public Service, or are you in Business?

Because really, the two are fundamentally different. If you’re in Public Service, then it’s appropriate for you to take any and all comers as customers, to attempt to treat them all equally regardless, and to respond to the obligation you feel of helping anyone with your product or service who asks.

And let’s face it. That’s how most of us in business start out.

But if you decide you are in Business, not Public Service, then that approach – attempting to be all things to all people – can actually get you in lots of trouble!

It certainly did for Paddi. You might recall this key frustration from last issue…

------------ Key Frustration #5: Poor Customer Service ------------

Like most conventional dental businesses, patients were on a 15 minute treadmill. Get ‘em in. Get ‘em out. Drill, fill and bill. Book any real treatment for another visit – hopefully within a few months as the schedule was pretty full.

In a perfect world, this system might have worked. But in reality, the days rarely went perfectly for Paddi. A hundred different things could go wrong, and any one of them put the schedule behind – potentially good patients were kept waiting, Paddi and the team were stressed, and little genuine care and attention was afforded the poor patients.

Not a recipe for success! But Paddi had his new resolve to fix his frustrations. So after pondering it for a while, Paddi did the unthinkable,

He “sacked” 75% of his customer base! Yep. Paddi “fired”, dismissed, removed, stopped seeing nearly three quarters of the people on his books that he’d spent the better part of 15 years building up.

Have you ever dreamed of ‘firing’ some of your more painful clients? You know, the ones who complain a lot, waste a lot of time, never seem to be satisfied and actually end up costing you money to service? The reality is, it’s likely you already have many customers that you don’t need. So why not “fire” some?

Now I say “fire” in quotes because that is in effect what Paddi did, but not quite in the way that most people think.

------------- The big misconception about ‘Firing’ customers --------------

The biggest misconception most people have of what it means to ‘fire’ customers is that you actually have to ring them up, write them a letter or look them in the eye and say, “That’s it. I’ve had enough. You’re fired!” (As much as you might like to in some instances!)

No, you’ll rarely have to do any of that.

Really, the first step is simply realising not all customers were created equal! And the second step is to benevolently “fire” the worst of them! Here’s a few ways you can do it…

  • Don’t contact them anymore. Statistics indicate that 67% of customers don’t repeat buy because of perceived indifference. So just ignore customers and you’ll take care of most of the problem.
  • For your more persistent difficult customers, why not just raise your prices. At some point they’ll either leave or you’ll be happy that the money you receive compensates you for the pain!
  • And for the really persistent customers, then you might have to take some action like writing them a letter or talking to them in person to invite them to do business elsewhere.

By the way, Paddi doesn't turn anyone away who is in pain. On the contrary, now that he has so much more productive time, he's happy to treat any acute cause, otherwise he couldn't really call himself a doctor. It's just that because he takes such good care of his customers, he doesn't get nearly as much of that any more.


For more on the why’s, how’s and where to’s of sorting, “firing”, filtering and influencing customers, have a look at Paddi’s insights into the subject in Training Customers to Treasure Your Business.


Is that a scary thought? “Firing” customers? It is for many of the people I talk to. And yet upon delving a little deeper, it's alsy seeming a deeply held desire of most business people I speak to. As Paddi so eloquently puts it, “In the matter of customers: quality surpasses quantity.”

But if you think Paddi’s approach to difficult customers was outrageous, just wait till you see how he handled the thorn in his crown that was his accounts receivable! Paddi’s approach to debt collecting will completely blow you away!

That’s for next issue. See you then.

Kind regards,


Fletcher Potanin
Managing Director
Solutions Press Business Publishing

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