Deal breakers. Accounts I thought I had, then lost for one reason or another…

Post image for Deal breakers. Accounts I thought I had, then lost for one reason or another…

by Tom Watson on December 13, 2015

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”.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 HP December 13, 2015 at 2:13 pm

Wow!!! Very informative. Good to know this kinda stuff happens.

2 Angela December 13, 2015 at 6:21 pm

Good blog, look, if you are pleasing everyone 100% of the time, something is wrong with YOU not THEM…OMG I would have also walked away…sometimes the business is stressful enough why for the almighty dollar would we need to deal with knowingly difficult people?

3 Tom Watson December 13, 2015 at 9:39 pm

Hi Angela! Yea… some are not worth the trouble.

4 Tom Watson December 13, 2015 at 9:41 pm

Hi HP! Well… it doesn’t happen that often luckily. But it’s still good to be prepared for when it does.

5 angela December 13, 2015 at 10:28 pm

I am learning, sometimes the hard way, that good management means good discernment in what accounts we take and dont take. Your right, it doesn’t happen often. One thing I do every morning is spend about 30 minutes journaling how I wish to see my business manifest itself out… I put it in bullet points i. e.

•I have wonderful clients who pay on time and are easy to get along with. I find favor with them in all aspects of my dealings and its awesome
•I have four proposals to go on this week and two new contracts to pick up signed

etc I journal my life as if it already is

AND IT WORKS this time last year I had one contract today I have over 20 commercial contracts and still growing with 98% closing rate

I have turned work away, everything I MEAN EVERYTHING Tom says is true to word.

6 Binda Kebohula December 14, 2015 at 9:20 am

This is really a good pointer especially to starters who are hungry for any type of business available.

7 Daniel K I December 15, 2015 at 7:16 am

Hey Tom,
I have to say your blog is mighty useful for ones in the business and also ones who contemplate for entering the same.

Sticking to ones principles gives satisfaction no amount of Dollar could ever give i believe.


8 Tom Watson December 15, 2015 at 10:39 am

Hi Daniel! THANKS for the kind words. Much appreciated.

9 Tom Watson December 15, 2015 at 10:39 am


10 Tom Watson December 15, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Hi Angela! You are on the right track that’s for sure. Visualizing where you see your business going is the first step towards making that a reality. GREAT idea. And I’m happy to hear business has been good. Once again, THANKS for commenting. I appreciate it.

11 Gus December 20, 2015 at 9:44 pm

Merry Christmas Tom.

As we close this year and I mark my first year in business, I want to thank you for your invaluable adivise to me and for your many bogs that have guided my decisions. I just piccked up my $1,000.00 monthly check from my customer for the first month of service following a full month of free service in November which I promise not to do any more. It feels so good to be able to submit my invoice every month now for payment. you are very much appreciated.

12 Tom Watson December 21, 2015 at 3:40 am

Hi Gus! Merry Christmas to you as well. I am so happy to hear about that check! That is wonderful.

13 Eve December 25, 2015 at 8:43 am

Merry Christmas Tom . Thanks for devoting your time to write this blog, i am learning so much from your blog, i just started my cleaning plus errand service business less than 6 months now and i have been struggling to get account.

Can you send me link of examples on how to write sales letter?

Secondly, do you use ” Every door direct mail ” to distribute your flyers? if yes, are you getting any sucess from it? i tried ” tried every door direct mail” once and didn’t get any call. I want to try personalize direct mails and contact real estate agents after christmas. Any advice or tips to help me with marketing?

14 Tom Watson December 28, 2015 at 10:22 am

Hi Eve! Well… I’m happy to help. No I didn’t use “Every door direct” because the post office was SO CONFUSED about how it worked that they were of no help to me. In THEORY it should be a great idea. the KEY is to have a good piece to mail out. If the piece you mail STINKS, no one will call. It’s that simple! You need to COMPEL people to TAKE ACTION and CALL YOU. I’ll send you over some info (just give me a day or two to get it together).

15 Eve January 2, 2016 at 7:27 pm

Thanks Tom, for the sales letter. I think personalized direct mail works better as most people seem to trash every door direct mail as they consider it as junk mail.

16 Tom Watson January 7, 2016 at 10:29 am

Hi Eve! I’m happy to help. PS… Keep me updated as to your progress.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: