There's a saying that's used often about the customer always being right. Of course, this is true to an extent, as I wrote in an earlier article titled “I Am My Own Boss”. In that installment, I discussed how running my own business really meant that I had more bosses than if I worked for somebody else. I discussed how if I were not doing what my customers desired, I would soon not have a business to run.  

There are times, though, when a customer’s demands can become unreasonable. This could create a scenario where an entrepreneur would not be able to operate a profitable business model. Some examples of unreasonable demands from customers could be too much uncompensated dwell time while picking up or delivering a shipment, unrealistic dock and appointment times, requests for changes to your equipment type, unsafe conditions, or personality conflicts… The list could go on and on.

The difficult thing to do as a business owner, is to know how to negotiate changes in the relationship to turn onerous business transactions into positive outcomes. There are times, however, when a decision must be made as to when to draw the line in a business relationship if amicable terms cannot be met. This is where an entrepreneur should decide whether that bridge is safe to cross, or if that bridge only leads to trouble for the business.

The customer is not always right. There are times when it’s important to know when to say, “That’s enough.” I believe that it’s important to stay on good terms with a customer that you do not agree with. In my case, there have been times when I had to drop a customer off my roster, only to have them call me back to work with them under my terms. In other cases, I have had shippers call to hire me back because the consignees were complaining that they were not receiving the same kind of service as I had previously made them accustomed to. In these situations, the customer found out that they could not find any other trucking companies to meet their demands or better service.

As important as it is to meet your customer’s expectations and demands, it is also important to know when the relationship is no longer mutually beneficial.

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Henry Albert

Henry Albert is the owner of Albert Transport, Inc., based in Statesville, NC. Before participating in the "Slice of Life" program, Albert drove a 2001 Freightliner Century Class S/T™, and will use his Cascadia for general freight and a dry van trailer. Albert, who has been a trucker since 1983, was recognized by Overdrive as its 2007 Trucker of the Year.

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