Over the years I landed a lot of accounts. Small, large and everything in-between. I also failed to get a lot of jobs over the years for one reason or another.
My price being too high was usually the main culprit I assume. To be honest, I was always OK with losing out because my price was too high. I wasn’t in this business to work for free, or to make buddies with anyone.
I was out to obtain and keep happy only those individuals that were willing to pay a fair price. Case closed. But there were a few accounts that got away from me for reasons other than price.
One of them that comes to mind was a security company that was located right around the corner from my office. It was a stone throw away, and I was happy to have the chance to land it. My crew drove past it every single night, so it was easy to fit it into the schedule .
To make a long story short, we had the job in the bag. The price we submitted was good and they accepted it. Once you get past that, it’s pretty easy to close the deal. But there was one issue that bothered me.
The people we were dealing with were not very nice people. They had me show up for the bid then made me wait endlessly. They were an office full of rude and condescending people. Even the receptionist was nasty to talk to. I honestly don’t know how they stayed in business.
This is always a red flag for me because once you get the account, these type people usually give you nothing but grief. It’s like they wake up unhappy, then spend the rest of the trying to make everyone who deals with them unhappy too.
With that said, I can’t be too picky with details like these. As I indicated earlier, I’m not looking for friends, I’m looking for good paying accounts primarily. But I sure would wish they were nicer.
Anyway… when it comes time to go and pick up the keys, they only have one key for me. I thought it must have been an oversight because I know for a fact we discussed the need for at least two sets of keys. I never overlook that detail.
My crew needs one set, and I need a set in case something happens, plus it comes in handy when I want to perform a spot check. One key just isn’t going to work, so I kindly asked if they had another one. If not, I offered to have the key duplicated myself.
That question didn’t go over all that well with the customer. They were visibly annoyed and indicated I could only have one key, and I was forbidden to duplicate it. This sent my blood pressure up naturally, though I tried to hide it.
I simply explained that the only way this would work on my end, is to have two keys. One for the crew, and one for me. If I only had one key and something happened, the systems I had in place to cover all the jobs would fail.
Sadly they wouldn’t budge. And that annoyed me even more. Asking for two keys is COMMON PRACTICE. Let’s be honest here, I’m not asking for much. Just another set of keys.
This happened right around their closing time, so they were trying to hurry me out the door with just one key. I finally said something to the effect of “I’m sorry but I can’t take the job without two keys, so if that is how you feel we can’t work together”.
And with that, they showed me the door. Part of me was happy for sticking to my principles and part of me was unhappy because I tossed the deal in the trash over a set of keys. To be honest, if they were nice people, I may have taken the job. But they weren’t sadly. Did I do the right thing? Who knows.
Another time I bid a job and a similar experience occurred. But instead of not giving two sets of keys they wanted to give me NO SETS. They said that I had to show up at a certain time and their employee would let me in then come back and lock up the place.
I had to pass on that job as well. There is simply too many ways for that type of scenario to go wrong. What if my staff gets held up and has to come later? What if their person doesn’t show? Or worse yet, shows up late to close up (while my crew is getting paid by me for sitting around).
I’ve had other variations on this as well. I’ve come across jobs that will only hire me if I show up at preciously the right time, which given traffic and my work load would be nearly impossible to guarantee.
I’ve also had to turn a few jobs down because they wanted someone to clean the floors on their “hands and knees”. I’m not talking houses here, I’m talking commercial properties. To be blunt, that is simply not gonna happen.
I’ll wrap this up by suggesting you just follow your gut when deciding what is best for your company when these situations arise. In my zeal to have “systems and principles” in place, I had to pass on some jobs. What you do will be “your call”.