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What Causes a Client to Fire a PSP?

We tackle this question and offer counsel for shops who are politically divided in this month’s “Ask Big Picture.”




Is there something a PSP can do (or has done) that will lead to ending the partnership?

“Yes! And it has happened,” says Kraig Kessel, co-founder of Kraido, a San Francisco-based retail design studio specializing in brand design, development, and management. “Changing a spec or printing something on a piece of equipment different than what was specified. Or missing a deadline and not communicating what is happening.” Avoid these mistakes so you don’t lose a vital client.

Our team is bitterly divided politically. I thought after the election it would get better, but it seems to be getting worse. Can I ban talking politics in our building?

Based on federal law, you can, especially if it has the potential to cause divisions among staff, harm their performance, or hurt your overall business, although not if it involves the discussion of labor issues like the formation of unions or the national wage. That said, it’s usually better to stop short of that nuclear option – people generally don’t respond well to the perception their right to express an opinion is being impinged. Call a meeting and say for the sake of harmony, you don’t want politics discussed. Tell your production manager they can’t play conservative shock jocks on the radio and outlaw the sharing of Rachel Maddow clips on the shop floor. Your workers most likely have much more in common than whatever it is that divides them politically. Encourage those areas of commonality. Let everyone sneak a view of “the game” in the breakroom when the local college or baseball team is playing. Hold potlucks where everyone brings in a family favorite to share once a month. When people can see beyond the labels and understand how someone may have formed a world view, it’s easier to establish common ground and cut them some slack.

What’s a good temperature for the store when it’s hot like this?

It would seem like there should be one ideal temperature that’s not too cold, not too hot, but just right. Yet that Goldilocks zone is tricky to achieve, and like so many things in life, it’s because of relativity. A setting of 70 degrees Fahrenheit might feel perfect in winter. However, during the summer months, it may feel frigid for a customer coming in from a 95-degree scorcher outside. As a result, retail environment experts recommend raising the temperature in summer to around 74 or 76 degrees and lowering it to between 68 and 70 degrees in winter. Where some businesses go awry is basing the temperature on what’s comfortable for the staff – they do, after all, have to work there all day. Customers coming in may not be wearing much more than shorts and a T-shirt. That results in an uncomfortable sales experience. The answer to such a mismatch is to adjust your dress code. The customer may not always be right, but her comfort should come first.

I keep getting follows on Instagram and friend requests on Facebook from my customers. Should I allow clients to “friend” me personally on social media?

To answer as a psychologist: It depends. If you’re a private person who does not use your personal account to promote your business or gain new clientele, best to leave things separate. But if there’s a good mix, there’s nothing wrong with the crossover. “We/I encourage it,” says Jim Dittmer of JDA Creative Color, Gresham, Oregon, “because our business relies heavily on our clients reselling the prints we make for them. We are Giclée printers, and we promote our clients work more than overtly promoting our services. It all feeds our referral-based marketing strategy.”

Do I give an employee the good or the bad news first?

If you’re like a lot of bosses, you probably try to lead with the good news to soften the blow. But according to Dan Pink, author of When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, the science is pretty clear: When people are on the receiving end of such news, four out of five prefer to get the bad news first. Why? Because given a choice, humans prefer endings that elevate. “We prefer rising sequences over declining sequences. We prefer endings with some uplift than endings that sag down,” he says. So, man/woman up. Deliver that hammer blow. And then offer some hope. “You’ll create a happy ending for yourself and everyone else,” says Pink.

We’ve had several employees leave in the last six months. We invested heavily in these people. Should we just give up on the training?

These are strange times. The economy is strong, the labor market is tight, and the pandemic and lockdowns seem to have encouraged people to think about making a change in their life. That said, we still think the old saying about training holds: Train employees well enough that they could get another job, but treat them well enough so they never want to. So, yes, keep on investing in training because the reality is you have no choice. Do you want poorly trained staff tending to your best customers? At the same time, if you’re bleeding staff, you need to find out the reason. Are your pay rates no longer competitive? Is there an issue with a manager or a particular co-worker? Conduct exit interviews with leaving staff to see if you can uncover the reason (although keep in mind that leaving employees will often be strategic with the truth – they may tell you the commute is too long, but really it’s your overbearing brother who they can’t get along with). Finally, be reassured this disruption won’t last forever. Some of these employees may well decide their passion project or online trading dreams are not going to work out and will return hat in hand, hoping to get back that job with the employer who was willing to invest in their potential.




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