If you've been reading any of my stuff, you know by now that my wife and I owned and operated restaurants for ten years throughout the 90's. One of our more popular items on the menu was a Pita Club Sandwich which included: Ham, Turkey, Bacon, American Cheese, Mayo, Lettuce & Tomato in slightly (warmed on the grill) split pita bread (two pita pocket sandwiches). Just thinking back I can taste one now. One of the appeals of pita bread is that it is supposed to be more nutritious than regular white bread, and in the case of a club sandwich that would be 3 slices of bread. Anyways most people ordered it with a side of seasoned steak fries, so I doubt that the nutrition benefits were most on their mind. We also offered the pita bread as on option on any of our sandwiches so we sold a lot pita pocket sandwiches. (oh, and I ate a lot of them too). But that's not the pita I wanted to talk about. The kind of P.I.T.A I want to talk about will make your business a nightmare.
Have you ever heard the expression “That person is a P.I.T.A!”? If not it stands for:
In 30 years of business, I've used it a number of times to describe difficult customers. What makes them difficult is usually a very poor attitude and unreasonable expectations. Some are just miserable people and they want to share their negativity. Maybe “share” is a weak word, I think they want you to FEEL IT, get down in the mud them so to speak. I've actually turned a few from the dark side by confronting their attitude directly, others I've just fired. That's right and yes, you can fire customers.
One in particular, was an accountant. He was a particularity rude and crude man. At the time (somewhere around 2006) I was doing IT services within my own company TechsRx. This customer had a decent sized office and was a good paying customer so for the most part I just ignored him. However there was this one time an employee I sent to service his computer called and told me this d-bag had yelled at him and called him an S.O.B. That was enough for me, I immediately confronted the accountant boss man, and in short order, gained an apology for myself and my employee and delivered prompt notice that he could find a new IT company. The good news is that this situation prompted a 180 degree turn in his attitude and he almost always and sometimes even uncomfortably was overly nice. To this day I'm still friends with him on Facebook. 🙂 However, it doesn't always work out this way. We can always hope for the best but expect the worst and when the worst is persistent it's time to take action. You don't have to put up with anyone's crap. This is one of the benefits of being self employed and one of the top reasons I work for myself.
Have you heard of the 80/20 rule a.k.a. the Pareto Principle? If not I'll tell you all about it and what that means for P.I.T.A's in your business but first a little self deprecating and embarrassing anecdote. Growing up, I always made fun of my mom for mixing up her words. Once at the drive through of a Taco Bell she ordered a Green Beanurrito. I told her “No get two Green Beanurittos“. My mom and I and the intercom lady couldn't stop laughing. Another time at the grocery store, she yelled to me from the packed waiting line. in front of the cash register to “Run and get a Loaf of Milk” I yelled back “Did you want me to grab a Gallon of Bread while I'm at it?” and walked away to the roar of laughs from the impatiently waiting patrons behind and in front of her. I tell you this because I've found that it is hereditary. Once I was in a large social situation and people were discussing dog breeds, when it was my “turn” to speak I loudly and proudly stated that my step-brother raised purebred Mastodons (I meant to say Mastiffs, LOL). My wife and I still reminisce and burst out laughing about that one. But back to the 80/20 rule. For the longest time, I would enlighten my friends a colleagues about the 80/20 rule a.k.a. Occum's Razor (dope) I felt so smart just saying Occum's Razor, LOL. Anyways, thanks for humoring me.
The 80/20 rule simply states the 80% of effects come from 20% of causes. In other words 20% of employees do 80% of the work. 20% of your offerings (services and/or products) bring in 80% of the income. So based on this rule, find the pain points in your business that are coming directly from certain customers. By pain points I mean things that make you hate that part of your work. Customers that don't “GET IT”, don't value your services, complain about the cost and everything else, pay slowly or not at all without you constantly bugging them for it. When you do this you will quickly find that 80% of the bull crap you're putting up with is coming from 20% or less of P.I.T.A customers. Once you've identified these P.I.T.A customers, decide if you will confront them on it (give them an ultimatum) and hope for a turn around or give them the pink slip (FIRE THEM). Don't trouble your mind with money lost, you'll use the good and positive time you've gained back to find and service the customers that do “GET IT”, that appreciate what you do for them, that pay timely every time. Since Occum's Razor, oops I mean Pareto Principle tells us that 20% of your awesome customers are providing 80% of your, easy to make, income (which I also refer to as the low hanging fruit) anyways. So, concentrate on increasing that type of customer and forget the P.I.T.A's.
Alright then, all this talk about food has made me hungry. It's time to get a Green Beanurrito.