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Sometimes You Have to Tell the Client No, and More Tips for PSPs to Finish the Summer Strong

If the customer’s expectations aren’t reasonable, the job might not be worth your trouble.




Make it Rain

Your business cards do no good sitting in a drawer. Get them out, says Paul Timm, author of “50 Powerful Ways to Win New Customers.” He cites one company that included a business card in every piece of first-class mail sent out, even the bills they paid. It led to a call from the local electric company asking about their product. Another manager tossed his cards in the air at football games when the home team scored.

Ask This Question

According to the management guru Peter Drucker, the one question that will trigger more improvement than any other in your staff: “What do I do that wastes your time without contributing to your effectiveness?” Ask it without coyness.

Go Gray

Worried your relationship with your phone is less than healthy? Switch your display from color to grayscale, recommends Catherine Price in her book How to Break up with Your Phone. (It’s hidden five levels deep on the iPhone: Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations > Color Filters.) Instantly, your phone is vastly duller. Try it for a day.

Every Day, Getting Better and Better

If you’re still scratching around for a guiding principle for 2021, consider this one from Gretchin Ruhin, author of the bestselling The Happiness Project: She says, “What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.” That applies not only to the life’s work you build on a daily basis, but also the things you spend your money on. Do you need that huge SUV if you only ever drive to work and home?

You Can Say No

No matter how much we want or need jobs, sometimes we have no choice but to walk away from certain work. All jobs are not created equal. Look at all the factors of the customer’s proposal: stipulated deadlines, commitments to providing and facilitating essential information about the job, and performance and price expectations. All of these factors should be reasonable, and most importantly, possible. It’s your responsibility to make that determination.


Keep it Positive by 5 to 1

We all know employees are more motivated by positive feedback than by negative comments. But we never knew the proper ratio for parceling out praise and punishment — until Tom Rath and Donald Clifton spelled it out in their book, How Full Is Your Bucket? They say the optimum ratio is five positive comments to every negative one. But don’t overdo it: Increasing the ratio to 13 positive comments to every negative one does more harm than good.

Humor Me

One of the constant challenges of being a small-business owner is how to respond to bad customer behavior. In the face of senseless vandalism, humor is often best, a la the manager at Bonez restaurant in Crested Butte, Colorado, who, upon finding a hole punched in the bathroom wall, placed an explanatory card next to the hole, as if it were a piece of art in a museum.

Keep Your Enemies Closer

Broaden your product offerings by becoming friends with your competition. Consider making an arrangement with those who will print or finish jobs if you lose a printer or other piece of equipment and vice versa. Or agree to loan ink and materials to each other in times of acute shortages. Less jobs can fail if you have this backup method in place.



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