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Last week, I debated whether a business owner should ever scold an obnoxious customer. I wrote that, even though I know a few small business owners who allow themselves the luxury, to me there is something unholy about a business owner blasting a customer. But, we’re all human and anyone can have a bad day. What then?

“Mike, your workers don’t know what they’re doing,” a customer once told me, “they’re installing these thingumabobs on the crawl space door and they’re putting these whatchamacallits all around and what good is that doing?” After her thorough critique of my workers’ thingumabob and whatchamacallit installation skills, she went on to inform me that Bob at her church, and his mom, had gotten mice out of their home and she was thinking about hiring them to finish the job. She spoke to me as if she were scolding a child. Oh well, nobody told me there’d be days like these, but nobody told me there wouldn’t be days like these. Let’s call it a draw.

I was tempted to give her a piece of my mind, but I’m a seasoned professional and I held my tongue. But, for the sake of argument, let’s say I had lost my cool and read her the riot act. Let’s say she had taken offense, fired my company and hired Bob and his mom and everyone lived happily ever after. Problem solved, right? Wrong. In my view, I would still owe her an apology for my unprofessional behavior. After all, she was a paying customer and I am a business owner, and a professional should never let a customer get his goat. (Unless he sells goats.)

At the highest level of owning a business, professionals should be able to—after a cooling off period—kick into “business owner gear,” admit they were wrong and apologize to the most nasty (or oddball) of customers. I can’t honestly say I’ve reached that level, and I hope I never have to find out. Have a great week tending your goats, everyone!

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