This month, I thought I’d share a few lessons from my experience dealing with challenging customers, as well as learning how to be a better boss and leader in my company.
Calling out a deadbeat customer
I had a customer who owned several commercial properties and was also the board president of a large condo association that we maintained. They were separate accounts, and the condo association always paid their bills, so I had no problem with them.
I did, however, have a problem with the board president as he stiffed my company out of more than $5,000 for work we did on his commercial properties. I tried legal action and I was told to “Get in line; this guy does this to everybody,” so I waited. I knew sooner or later I would have to meet him at the condos.
Finally about one year later, I got my chance. When he walked up to me I called him out about the money he owed me. At first, he tried to blow me off and said something like, “That’s not what we are here to meet about.” I was having none of that, and I told him in no uncertain terms how I felt about him and his company. He promised payment but I never got a penny from him.
As a result, after the contract was up at the condo association, my company didn’t get it back; it was a six-figure contract. It was a hard lesson learned because in the end I never got paid the $5,000 and I lost a six-figure contract. It was my choice, and I would do it again because sometimes you just have to stand up for what is right and walk away from a toxic person, even if it means losing the job.
Being a jerk of a boss
I am a very patient person; pretty much everyone tells me that. But there was a time when I didn’t have a lot of patience. Couple that with me being an inexperienced manager and it cost me a good employee.
This is way back when we just started the company. I think we had three employees and only one of them was very good. This guy was twice my age, had run his own company and was a very good worker as well as reliable and mechanically inclined.
It was late in the day and I had asked him to blow off the streets of a big job we were doing. I was tired and wanted to get done.
After finishing up the section of the property that I was working on, I drove the truck to the section I had told him to blow off, and he just wasn’t moving fast enough for me so I gave him a hard time. The next day he came in and quit, so I lost our only good, experienced employee.
This was one that I immediately regretted. I was wrong and now I had to tell my dad that we lost our best employee because I was being a jerk. From that day on I learned to respect my employees.
Learn from your mistakes and move on
I have so many more lessons I have learned over the years, but the bottom line is that when you are in business there are many opportunities to screw up. You need to learn from them and move on.
I have learned a lot over the years, and I usually know in my gut if I am doing the right thing or not. Don’t beat yourself up for the decisions you have made. Learn from them, move on and become a better business person.