On June 24, 2012 at 00:15, cgav said...
I have a customer I'd like to fire. How do I go about it and not piss off the homeowner? I want him to think it's in both our best interest.
I went and did an estimate for this guy last week. Gave him my quote, all was good. He gave a deposit and we scheduled the install. Basic living room surround sound and hanging several televisions in his new home he's just moving into. 24 hours or so passes and he emails me and wants to add whole house audio. I generate a new quote and email it back. Once he gets the quote, he thinks it's too expensive. I change to a cheaper system, basically an 8 channel amp, some basic distributed audio speakers, and some volume controls. Can't get much cheaper than that.
At this point I'm already having second thoughts because this is not the kind of job I want to put my name on. No control whatsoever. This job isn't going to win me any referrals or wow anyone at all. He then goes to a big box store and purchases about half of the products necessary for the install (A receiver and some speakers), further cutting my profit. It's obvious now he's only concerned about price and isn't the kind of customer I want to add to my client list. There are people on Criagslist who would be better suited for this value customer. Usually I weed these type customers out before getting this far along.
How do I gently tell this customer that we aren't the best fit for each other and that we'd like to return his deposit and part ways. He has not signed the contract yet, only given a credit card which we ran for the deposit so we could put him on the schedule. He had not signed a contract yet because he wanted to change the scope of work.
Should I suck it up and do this job or part ways now before losing any more precious time. He wants to meet tomorrow and possibly make some more changes as well.
I would have a sit-down with him and explain that a quote can only be given once the system requirements have been defined and won't change
. If he keeps changing the requirements, you can't give a quote but let him know that any changes after the quote has been accepted will be accompanied by a change order fee because of the expense to you. This is how it works in construction and we should be doing it the same way. Also, tell him that using his equipment removes the performance of that equipment from your control and that you won't be responsible for it, even if it is the same brands/models you specified. Further, tell him that, by his supplying some of the equipment, it changes your price because you have the ability to modify his price, based on how much he buys from you. Think of it as a "quantity discount", if you want. Don't discount your labor- that's not a commodity.
Honestly, this all falls under the stage of qualifying the customer, which needs to come before anything else. The budget is a major part of this stage and if he is vague about the budget in the beginning, you needed to tell him that you can't do a quote until he's willing to be more specific. You also need to make him understand that by slashing the budget, he'll lose the kinds of controls that would make the system a lot easier to control or, at least, less annoying. Having to walk a long distance just to turn a speaker down a little is not going to make him happy, even if it meets his budget.