How do you deal with "impossible" customers?
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  1. #1
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    Default How do you deal with "impossible" customers?

    Life was grand when this was a "side job" or "side business" for me.

    I was building custom new builds for customers with new parts, or say turning a mass produced bolt action into a fully custom rifle, after truing up the action and bolt, etc. happy parts, making happy guns making happy customers making a happy bank account.

    I guess I'm slow to learn....How many times in my life have I heard "If it aint broke, don't fix it?"

    I said: "I should go for it and do this full time!" I'm stupid!

    Now I'm in the world of jamming 1100's, jamming lever guns, jamming 22's, pitted muzzle loader barrels that the owners refuse to believe is pitted (yuh'know, cause bore scopes are lying bastards) On & on.

    Yeah, I had no idea how good I had it.

    And the anomaly that is making crazy...... Why is it the owners of the most frustrating guns, are the most frustrating customers to boot.

    So what do you do when customers are seriously over the top? I mean in the past, I'm the kind of guy that is not afraid to set a guy straight, and in hurry. But I'm guessing that's not the best route to take when serving the public and word of mouth will make you or break you?


    Where do you draw the line?
    What do you do when the line is crossed?


    Thanks.

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    Ever stop to think that they are coming to you because no one else will put up with their crap?

    In ANY business the line is clear... When they become unreasonable it's time for them to leave.

    Once they have crossed the line, give them their stuff back and show them the door.

    But REMEMBER, if it is you who are being the unreasonable one, you WILL soon run out of customers. Some small percentage of customers will always want EVERYTHING for nothing. But if a large percentage of customers are asking for the impossible, it may not be them with unreasonable expectations.

    The real world of gunsmiths IS broken stuff. If you are unable or unwilling to make a living dealing with that it may be time to look at a different path.

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    I'm not a gunsmith, but I work in an industry where we provide service to Joe public. One good piece of wisdom I was given way back, is that customer satisfaction is driven by customer expectations. Sometimes part of the job is to right off the bat, before taking on a job, establish reasonable expectations as to the outcome. If someone cannot be brought to agree to reasonable expectations based on your experience, then don't take on the job unless you want a lot of grief down the line. Maybe some of these customers aren't looking for an ordinary gunsmith, they want someone who can perform miracles. And for cheap.

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    Another good example for not making your hobby your business, it takes all the fun out of it.It is all about customer expectations. No one is forcing you to take any job, explain to the customer the situation before you take the job if he doesn't understand or sounds iffy just so no.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzlypeg View Post
    I'm not a gunsmith, but I work in an industry where we provide service to Joe public. One good piece of wisdom I was given way back, is that customer satisfaction is driven by customer expectations. Sometimes part of the job is to right off the bat, before taking on a job, establish reasonable expectations as to the outcome. If someone cannot be brought to agree to reasonable expectations based on your experience, then don't take on the job unless you want a lot of grief down the line. Maybe some of these customers aren't looking for an ordinary gunsmith, they want someone who can perform miracles. And for cheap.
    Thanks. That's advice I'm going to incorporate immediately. I actually told a customer the other day: "I've worked on these before. "There's just nearly no parts available for this old guy any more." To which he replied: "But you're a machinist, you can make anything." To which I replied: "Yes, but custom one-off machine work is $100/hr." To which he replied: "Bull$hit, I'm not paying that!" So yep.....aligning expectation on the front end sounds exactly like what I need to do.

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    I had a difficult customer, I eventually told him I couldn't and wouldn't do his work, solved that problem.

    The other problem customer I raised the rates and therefore the cost of the parts till the point that he could complain as much as he wanted and I didn't care.

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    Thanks everyone.

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    Firing customers is great, and there is more than one way to do it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MonCeret Gunsmit View Post
    And the anomaly that is making crazy...... Why is it the owners of the most frustrating guns, are the most frustrating customers to boot.
    That's not an anomaly, that's the reason they're in this situation -- and still not believing what's in front of their eyes.

    If you can't afford to walk away from those customers, you need to go back to working for someone else who can insulate you from them. Or find the money to hire them for you!

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    Along what @Pariel said - the same deep lack of contact with reality is why the guns (cars, bicycles, computers, stoves, intimate relationships, relationships with children, careers) are in a sorry state, AND why they're so frustrating to deal with.

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    Over time you learn what work to say no to. My first few years were difficult in that way. Work that might make a good project for a gunsmithing student, don't always turn a profit.

    I have found that as I got busier, the extended wait times scared off many of those customers.

    Sent from my Pixel 2 using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by MonCeret Gunsmit View Post
    Thanks. That's advice I'm going to incorporate immediately. I actually told a customer the other day: "I've worked on these before. "There's just nearly no parts available for this old guy any more." To which he replied: "But you're a machinist, you can make anything." To which I replied: "Yes, but custom one-off machine work is $100/hr." To which he replied: "Bull$hit, I'm not paying that!" So yep.....aligning expectation on the front end sounds exactly like what I need to do.
    I suspect that if you follow through and implement this that your bottom line will improve, you will have more free time for leisure or else taking on profitable jobs and the level of frustration will be greatly reduced.

    You will win all the way around and you will greatly reduce your number of frustrating customers.

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    i deal with an industrial hardchroming company...........for a one off customer......if an engineer needs to come out and look at the job its $50 up front ,if the engineer needs to give a written quote ....$500 up front........and minimum job cost is $600.......which means a small job is going to be minimum $600 plus another $550 if you are silly enough to ask for a quote......and they are running full capacity with big repeat jobs.

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    "I'm sorry, I can't do that job for a reasonable cost."

    Works almost every time and, when it doesn't, I get paid well for the grief.

    Jeff

    Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk

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    ...and, now you know why Gunsmiths tend a little toward being....grumpy!

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    Quote Originally Posted by trevj View Post
    ...and, now you know why Gunsmiths tend a little toward being....grumpy!
    Yep. That's me!
    10% of my customers cause me 80% of my grief. I try to spot the 10%ers early.

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    Being up front is important. If the customer is having a hard time with reality, just start adding up the cost of repair for him.

    1/2 hr tear-down
    1/2 hr clean and inspect
    - if broken parts need to be recreated
    1 hr setup
    $50 materials
    3 hr machine labor
    1 hr reassembly
    1/2 hr testing.

    6-1/2 hrs @ $100/hr + materials ~$700

    (Your numbers may differ depending on condition of the item)

    Start rattling that off to the customer and I’m sure most people will lose the stomach for it shortly after a couple hundred bucks. If not, then you have room to get it done cheaper and come out a hero.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MonCeret Gunsmit View Post
    So what do you do when customers are seriously over the top?
    Do what makes you happy. If this is no fun, go back to making it a hobby. If the money is more important than the fun, suck it up and smile.

    It's your priorities that count. You're not a slave.

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    DIVORCE!! After 40 years in business I've divorced a few people, but not many. A lot less stress and you will continue to have problems as long as you will deal with them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Butch Lambert View Post
    DIVORCE!! After 40 years in business I've divorced a few people, but not many. A lot less stress and you will continue to have problems as long as you will deal with them.
    ^^^^This. If you don't choose your customers, they will choose you. You don't want such an important decision, namely who you do business with, left in the hands of someone who doesn't have your best interest at heart.

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