Blackberry Hostages

The Lesson of Too Many Customers:

15755_10204273955956247_1152395747616845614_nMost of my client want customers, lots of customers, as many customers as they can get. The truth is; I don’t really need that many customers and sometimes too many customers become overwhelming.  When they do and you’re not able to provide for the customers, they begin to look around and find that the grass really is greener somewhere else and move on.

I have always liked goats and now that I have enough space for a small farm, I decided to get some! As it turns out, I get some really great deals on goats and I’ve now got two goats and then, a short time later, two more! Then I get the ultimate deal, no strings attached, just come and get it –  a free Llama named Buddy.  I have got a beautiful field full of blackberries and everything I need to serve my new customers, heck I have the greatest blackberry patch in town.  However, I had no experience with goats and didn’t do my homework, my due vigilance. My new goats and Buddy the sexy Llama quickly eat all the blackberries. How fantastic right? Not really,  because now the grass begins to look a lot greener at the other neighbors house.  The goat look across the fence and say to one another; look, they have better blackberry’s and more of them. Goats being goats, well they begin to stray and go to the competing yards and sometimes they escape without me even knowing they are gone!  I find another patch of blackberries here and another little patch over there but now I have spent so much time and money fixing fence I can’t even buy any hay to keep them loyal to just my field. On and on we go as I try to  provide for the too many customers that In reality I don’t have the capacity to take care of anyway. But I love goats and seem to have a desire to respond to about every cute goat ad, and truly wanting my goats.

I soon see that I have to buy more land and expand or get rid of some goat inventory, heck maybe even Buddy the sexy Llama, might be looking at the greener grass, elsewhere!  but llama are 16640_10205508196611492_5613970638475330674_nmuch more loyal than goats. In the beginning I just wanted a whole bunch of new customers, never thinking about the ability to provide for those customers long term. I never thought about how do I keep my grass green enough or get enough product,  keep a consistent flow that will keep happy goats?  If you don’t have enough blackberrys your customers will stray when they can’t get products from you or get good customer service. They will tell themseleves over and over that there are not blackberries on that side of the fence. Bringing them back and keeping them is a lot harder than keeping them happy in the first place.  Herding goats and trying to trap them into the yard can be a pricey endeavor but they would most likely not stray if they had a lot of blackberries or even a good substitute like hay.

I think it’s better to have less quality customers that will become long-term customers that you can serve and do a good job of keeping them on your side of the fence over the long haul.

No Plan for The Smelly Schmuck, and Otherwise Bad Customer!

Life and Business Lessons From The Farm

Smelly customersRecently I had a skunk move into my garage so I read up on how to dispose of a skunk and was informed that one approach was to play loud music and the skunk will go on it’s own.  After about a week of very loud music in my garage I thought the skunk was gone, after all how much Hard Rock could anything, anyone take?. Only to find out it had just hung out and apparently become a huge fan of the movement.

I went out to my garage, opened the door and found the skunk by hitting it with the door and yes, I  got sprayed.  I had to get this skunk and that was that.  My only thought was to get a trap, shooting up the garage might not be OK. I was able to borrow three from a local source. (thanks Bob) I promptly set up the traps in and around the garage. I have to get rid of that skunk. there was no plan B. It was the only plan, I had  now written the contract, now all I had to do was seal the deal and get the skunk in the trap. I really didn’t  have a plan, agenda or thought other than that.  I just wanted the skunk as it was now very personal. That very night I got the skunk, he signed the contract by walking right into the trap lie the true schmuck that he was!

Immediately a problem arose. The problem is that I now have a LIVE skunk trapped in my garage. I have no plan what to do next and my garage and the surrounding one mile circle around it smelled like being underwater in skunk water, you could not escape it. Now I have several unique obstacles to overcome . I have a rental car as my new car was on order, so that makes getting rid of a skunk by driving it away a distant thought. I have no way of shipping the skunk to Happy Skunk Camp. Second  problem is my kids now think it is cute and we could train it not to spray because it loved us!. Schmuck was a little juvenile and even I was numb to the odor or it had shut off my brain, because I too, was beginning to think it was cute!

Many times a online sale business doesn’t have a clear plan, they don’t know the cost of shipping or which shipping method is available for certain products or you don’t have the proper shipping material to move the product out of the garage.  We could at this point invest a little and make the product better, Like an attempt at having a trained skunk – scent free!  Many times products are not really ready to sell when the sale is actually made. Making any further investment in the product after the sale can be pricey and not covered in the original sale price. Be ready to sell the product with all of this figured out up front because afterward you have a signed contract.  I am not ready to invest in the skunk training plan. I look at the skunk thinking there must be a way. It turns, raises his tail and sprays me again. The cost to improve on this skunk is much too high of a price.

Now, back to my garage – I can not find another company to come get the skunk. Just like handing off bad smelly customers is not easy and no other company wants a smelly,  pissed off customer that I just had to have a contract with! This is my skunk/schmuck and I have to deal with it and I hope it ends well. Because if the smelly creature goes off and tells all it’s friends, or worst case, I get sued or jailed for animal cruelty.

These problem are common with many of my clients when all they really want to do is get someone to come to their website and make a purchase aka, sign the contact. Yes, sometimes they really do not have a shipping plan, payment plan or product actually ready to sell at a profit. They have not planned for the unhappy customer or a return policy. I don’t even want to ever have this skunk returned! The capture of the client, the sale of the product should be the final piece of business.

Still, many don’t have the resource to execute the big sale, they don’t have enough employees to put the roof on the house you just contracted, you may not have an ability to get the proper supplies to make the product or close the deal, You may be out of inventory with the supplier unable to get more. The bottom line is that you better have a clear plan in place, beginning to end, before you catch a live skunk. Sometimes getting the customer and make the sale can be a stinky business without a good plan.

I did finally get rid of skunk.  I put  a tarp over the top of the trap and rolled it up like a Tootsie Roll.  I drove about 10 miles away from my home to a remote logging road, in a borrowed truck.  It was not until that moment that I realized I had not really observed or even paid attention on how to open the trap. How many problems will I have to solve before this is over?  So this took some more time. Time that I knew I would be lucky to get out of without once again getting sprayed. I did manage to do it by not exposing too much of the cage, yet able to see the latch and figure out how to open it.

In the end the skunk ran out and began to run, going straight toward the truck as if he wanted a ride back and do it all again! I outran the schmuck and was faster than him or he got distracted along the way. I quickly drove away, mentally logging the many problems that just didn’t need to happen. As for the skunk? He has not been a return customer which is just not all that bad of a thing.