A Monthly Briefing for Optical Lab Owners and Managers

- June 2019 -

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Dollars & Sense

5 Signs it’s Time to Say ‘Goodbye’ to Your Customer (And How to Breakup the Right Way)

By Kate Zabriskie

Goodbye customer! It’s nothing personal (at least not usually). Sometimes customers’ expectations can’t be met, other times customers require an inordinate amount of time, and on rare occasions, a customer’s behavior may expose an organization to undue peril. When any of those situations occur, it’s best to say “goodbye” and to do so quickly in a way that creates the least resentment on both sides.

  1. They cause 80% of your problems and don’t contribute even close to 80% of your revenue.

    From time to time, any customer could require more energy than others. Those high-demand situations are normal. What isn’t normal, however, is the perpetual squeaky wheel that routinely disrupts normal business operations.

    Customers who buy very little and cost a lot time, personnel, or mental energy to service may not be the customers you want to keep—especially if serving them prevents you from taking care of customers or clients who are more profitable and easier to help.

    Goodbye Move: When customer is more work than it’s worth to you, the easiest way to say goodbye is to rely on the classic “It’s not you, it’s me” approach.

    For example: “Brad, I’m concerned. I’ve reviewed your account and have discovered that we’re doing a lot of rework and revisions to the projects we have with your firm. I’ve concluded that there has got to be someone who is a better fit for you. We’re not hitting the mark with you the way we do with our other clients. This isn’t good for you or us.”

    If after that they insist on staying anyway, consider raising your rates accordingly.

  2. They are abusive to your employees. When management allows customers to abuse employees, it’s the same as perpetrating the abuse directly. Do customers swear, yell, demean, or harass your employees? If so, it’s time to draw a line in the sand and let them know what behavior is and isn’t acceptable.

    “Julie, we have a no profanity rule here. Respect is one of our core values, and we’ve agreed that we don’t yell and swear at our clients or each other.”

    If the bad behavior continues, the relationship should stop. “But she’s our best customer. She has a lot of sway.” Maybe so. She’s also the poison that potentially exposes the organization to a lawsuit, erodes morale, and negatively affects the culture.

    Goodbye Move: When someone is abusive, again, it’s best to say goodbye and to do so in a calm and professional manner.

    “Julie, you’re obviously unhappy, and my employees are too. For the benefit of everyone, at this point I think it’s best that we part company. We both deserve better.”

  3. Their behavior is out of touch with your ethics policies and practices. You are the company you keep. If you are enabling your customers to act in a way that is in disagreement with your organization’s values or the law, it may be time to say goodbye. Do you really want to associate yourself and your organization with those whose business practices are illegal, immoral, or routinely questionable? When you like the people on a personal level, it can feel like a tough decision when you’re making it. The good news is once you do, you won’t look back.

    Goodbye Move: When someone or an organization exposes you to unneeded risk, it’s prudent to disassociate yourself and your organization from them pronto.

    “We’re a very conservative organization. While we understand others have a more robust appetite for risk, it’s typically something we avoid. For that reason, another vendor is probably going to better meet your needs. At this point, we’re really just not a good fit.”

  4. They expose you to unneeded financial risk. If you spend more time chasing payments than performing work, it’s time to consider a new payment plan at a minimum or a permanent breakup if that step doesn’t solve the problem.

    Goodbye Move: Just as it doesn’t make sense to stay involved with someone who exposes you to ethical and legal risks, an organization that puts your pocketbook on the line is probably best avoided.

    Janet, I know we’ve tried a range of payment options to make this relationship work. At this point, we simply don’t have the financial appetite to accommodate your payment schedule. For that reason, I’m asking you to find another vendor. We can’t accommodate the work."

  5. You’re no longer a good fit. Sometimes people and organizations grow apart. Nobody has done anything wrong; the two parties are just in different places and it’s time to say goodbye.

    Goodbye Move: This last goodbye is the hardest. When you find you and your customer are no longer compatible, it’s a good idea to start the conversation with something open-ended.

    “Bill, tell me a little bit about how you see your business growing in the next few years.”

     Assuming Bill isn’t planning for growth, you might continue with:

    “It’s good to hear that you’re comfortable where you are. That’s a nice place and a future goal of ours. As you may know, we’re on a growth strategy and have been for a couple of years. What concerns me is our ability to give you the attention in the future that we’ve been able to give you in the past. I think you deserve to work with a partner company that can make your work priority number one, and right now I don’t think that’s us.”

No matter the reason, prolonging a relationship that isn’t working does no one any favors. It’s usually not fun to say “goodbye,” but once you do, you’ll have more time to say “hello” to customers who should conduct business with you. 

Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what’s promised. For more information, visit www.businesstrainingworks.com.

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Lab Notes

VSP Optics Names Global Source Rx, Inc. as ‘Unity Lab of the Year’

LAB ADVISOR

VSP Optics announced today that Global Source Rx, Inc. (GSRx) is the recipient of the annual “Unity Lab of the Year” award.

GSRx, an optical manufacturing laboratory based in Scottsdale, Ariz., received the award for its exceptional quality of work, superior service, sales volume and overall performance in 2018.

“The GSRx team has been strong supporters of the Unity brand for years, and it has been a pleasure to continue working with them closely to offer an innovative portfolio of products to eyecare professionals,” said Todd Riley, director of wholesale business development for VSP Optics. “Our partnership is rooted in making the needs of ECP’s a priority, and that mindset has paved the way for a successful year.”

The award was presented this month during a presentation at GSRx headquarters.

“All of us at GSRx are honored to receive this recognition for the second time in five years,” said David Jochims, CEO of GSRx. “We value our relationship with VSP, and we appreciate the support they give us and our independent practice partners.”

In recognition of the award, VSP Optics will donate $2,500 to the GSRx Foundation to provide funding for projects initiated by GSRx partners to support visual health around the world.

Coburn Velocity Spin Coater Wins Award

LAB ADVISOR

Coburn Technologies has announced that their Velocity Spin Coater has been named “Best Value Enhancer (Lab)” by the CiO VisionPlus Awards.

“We are thrilled and honored to receive this award for our Velocity Coater, especially considering our focus on developing innovative technology for the laboratory market,” said Alex Incera, company president. “The Velocity Coater has become the market’s preferred spin coating system, optimizing the yield in many of the world’s largest labs.”

This award is one of 17 awards given annually by the Cairo International Optical Fair’s VisionPlus Awards, landing in the Instruments & Equipment category. Nominations criteria for “Best Value Enhancer (Lab)” include utility, value enhancement, innovation and technology.

The Velocity Optical Lens Spin Coater is a fully automated industrial hard coating system that conveniently transports lenses utilizing a job tray, beginning the process with a multi-stage pre-cleaning system, followed by a secondary cleaning system, coating and curing, and finally returning the lens to the job tray. Velocity is also available in a stand-alone, manual version. For more information, visit www.coburntechnologies.com.

Brian Dunleavy, Editor, LabTalk/LabAdvisor

Brian is the Editor of LabTalk. He covers wholesale laboratories, lab systems, other ECP news and features/coverage. Contact Brian at [email protected].

Copyright © 2019 LabTalk. All rights reserved. Read more at LabTalkOnline.com/LabAdvisor

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