Don’t be defeated by customers leaving or bad reviews

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I just had a conversation with a cleaning business owner who got upset and discouraged whenever he lost a customer. He felt like a failure and felt defeated. He said it was a terrible feeling, that things weren’t working out and it should not have happened.

The reason he got so discouraged and defeated was because he always saw losing a customer as a failure. The problem is, it was just a small failure because he was crushing it otherwise and making lots of money. But those isolated incidents felt like a failure.

I had to explain to him that the reason he felt defeated is because he saw those incidents as failures. The reality is, you’re always losing customers in business. You’re only a failure if you lose more customers than you gain or lose customers at a much higher rate than you should.

Customer attrition is a natural part of business

I explained the concept of ATTRITION to him. You’ve got to understand that a certain number of your customers are going to leave your business each month and each year. With a larger business, you’ll have a more obvious number of customers leaving, losing some every week or month. You’re never going to stop losing customers. That’s never going to change. Are you going to spend the rest of your time always feeling like a failure? It’s just a part of business— it’s called attrition.

If you take time to analyze the customers you lost in one year in aggregate, most are lost for reasons out of your control. People call us up all the time to cancel their service because they’re moving away or are remodeling or are selling their house or they’re retiring or have a kid headed to college so are cutting back financially. Of course, sometimes it’s due to an incident— we might get fired for doing a bad job or showing up late or not showing up or the second time we broke something expensive. But most times it’s things out of our control.

Yes we can get better about not showing up and forgetting to put a client on the schedule. We can get better at training our employees. We’re not going to be able to eliminate all breakage or complaints. Sometimes human error will happen. As long as it’s not out of control or happening chronically, it is what it is. We can’t please everybody all the time forever. We just can’t. So we’re going to lose some people. Just accept the fact that we win some and we lose some.

You are always going to be losing customers if you’re growing. If you’re not losing any, you probably have a very tiny business and aren’t growing. If you’re expanding and growing, you’re probably going to lose customers. Track it and measure it and make sure it’s somewhere in 2-5% rate of attrition. If you’re losing 20-30% of your customers, you have a real problem. If you don’t even know how to track it or what to measure, you should take my Cleaning Business Fundamentals course.

Don’t let the normal aspects of business defeat you.

Don’t let the normal aspects of business defeat you. Customers coming and going are just a normal part of business. Don’t allow that to defeat you. Look at your business in aggregate so you see the the big picture.

Here’s a good example of how this happens to all of us— say you have four amazing reviews in a week but you also get one nasty complaint that erases all the wins you had all week. We let that feeling of defeat take over and rob us of the joy of success and wins that we had all week.

If you took time to analyze the wins/loses, the defeats/progress, you’d notice that you’re progressing more than you’re losing. You’re moving forward more than backward. Look at the whole picture and see you took five steps forward and one back.

Don’t let a customer cancelling her service ruin your day

Don’t accept defeat. Don’t let a customer cancelling her service ruin your day or rob you of the joy you got from the amazing reviews praising your service. Don’t let that one bad review wreck your week. Learn from your mistakes or just move on if there was no mistake.

I had to learn this years and years ago. I didn’t need to pay attention to the customers who cancelled as long as the number of cancellations was within a reasonable, predictable amount each month or year. I didn’t need to micromanage my staff and demand to know why each customer cancelled. I just wanted to know how many we would predictably lose each month. This kept me from looking over their shoulder and driving my staff crazy. If i’m grilling them over three or four lost customers, I’m not recognizing the work they’re doing to bring in 20 new customers.

So back to that cleaning business owner. I told him he needed to get over it, that he was only focusing on the one or two minor failures. You’re robbing yourself of the joy of success by focusing on these failures. Acknowledge that we win some and lose some. As long as we win more than we lose we’re going to grow the business.

This is just a sample of the kind of help I can offer in my 16 week Cleaning Business Fundamentals course. For a free 30 minute consultation to discuss whether my course is a good fit for you, simply fill out my owner’s survey and I’ll be in touch to set up a time to talk.

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