Lesson #32

When It's Time to Pull the Trigger and Fire a Customer or a Vendor

How many of us can say we will do business only with people and companies we like and trust? Probably not too many.

Countless employees indulge in the fantasy of telling the boss to take the job and shove it. Meanwhile, the boss's recurring dream is to tell that recalcitrant customer to take his or her business and cram it.

The reality is that not many organizations can afford to do business with only like-minded customers whom they really respect and enjoy. It's a big world out there, and customers come in many shapes and sizes with their own idiosyncrasies and personas—some of which are more tolerable than others. If doing business were limited only to customers whom we liked, there would be no mega law and giant accounting firms. Huge multinational investment banks wouldn't exist, and most corporations would have headquarters in offices the size of phone booths instead of skyscrapers. A nice benefit would be that all of these service firms would save money on rent, but generating enough volume to keep the doors open could be an issue.

The good news is that—just like dealing with your employee prima donnas—you're not marrying your customer either. Much like holding your breath underwater when you were a kid, you can do it regularly for a certain period and be no worse for wear. The more salient question is: Can—and will—you do business with people whom you do not trust or who don't meet your ethical ...

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