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Courier MBA Day 28: The Customer Isn’t Always Right

The customer isn't always right.

Sometimes it even gets to the point you have to fire your customers.

Or at least give them a break. And giving yourself a break.

Where the customer isn't right.

Every business has those customers. They're the ones who are shooting for every possible angle. They want the farm and they don't want to pay for it. They will manipulate and they will whine to get their way.

It happens because they know it works.

Sometimes these gig economy apps will be like that customer.

They'll bully you or scare you into thinking you have to accept every offer. Or maybe they think they can force you into long waits at the restaurant without compensation. Any time they try to force you into things that are not within your agreement, the customer is wrong.

And it's up to us to decide at what point do you continue to take it.

What to do when the customer isn't right?

There are a couple of things I would suggest:

Try to understand where the customer is coming from.

Aha Moment – Inscription on Red Road Sign on Sky Background.

If you're Grubhub or Doordash, you have a problem.

You have a lot of orders out there that you have to get fulfilled. You're losing money as it is, so paying extra money to get people to take deliveries isn't a great option. However, they cannot force anyone to take deliveries. So, how do you get everything taken care of without going broke and without getting in trouble?

Ultimately they need to find a way to get those deliveries done.

Understand your own position

You're not an employee.

They cannot force you into doing things certain ways if those are not related to what you agreed to do.

What can they expect? They can expect you to get the food to the customer in a timely manner, and they can expect you to do it well and in a professional way.

If you delay the delivery, they have a reason to be unhappy. If you are unprofessional with the restaurant or if you eat the food, the problem is yours.

Understand what you agreed to.

Understand what you did not agree to.

You did not agree to accept every offer. Or even a percentage of offers. You did not agree to only work with one platform. Nor did you agree to waiting an unreasonable amount of time on a delivery that doesn't compensate you well for that wait.

Here's where understanding your earnings really comes in handy. You get a feel for how much you are making. You then get a feel for what it costs to do accept a higher percent of orders or anything like that.

Is it worth it to you to do things their way? Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't.

Sometimes you have to fire the customer.

Or at least put them on furlough.

I did this with Postmates.

A year ago, I was making more per hour on Postmates deliveries than with anyone else. Unfortunately they weren't very busy in my market.

But there was one major problem that started happening with them. I would accept a delivery, and then all of a sudden I would get a notification that another delivery has been added. There was no opportunity to accept or reject. It was just added.

That's a clear and blatant violation of the independent contractor relationship. The worst thing about it though was, I couldn't just back out of the added on deliery. If I didn't want that extra delivery I had to cancel and it would cancel the delivery I was on as well.

Then they started punishing me if I backed out of it. They would literally put me in time out, with a timer. It could be ten minutes – one time it was an hour. They started threatening that I'm cancelling too many orders.

That's when I finally decided I had it. I weighed everything – while my hourly rate was good, the volume wasn't good enough. If they weren't going to respect my rights as a contractor and if the few deliveries I did do were getting messed up like that too often, I just wasn't going to take Postmates deliveries any longer.

For me, there was enough business elsewhere to do that.

What does firing a customer entail?

Here's the beauty of being an independent contractor. There's no requirement to work any certain amount of time. You can just decide you're not delivering for the customer. Sometimes you get to where you won't turn on the app.

There are times where I more or less furloughed a customer for a few weeks. I went a few months between Uber Eats deliveries last year. I'll go a week or two without turning on some apps.

I don't recommend totally burning the bridge. Things can change. Uber Eats made some HUGE changes this past year where they went from dead last to me to my number one option as I write this.

I do regret one thing about my firing of Postmates. I may have made it more of a permanent firing than I realized, unintentionally. Not long ago I tried logging in to see if some things had changed. I couldn't do it. I'm not sure if I was deactivated or what, and I can't get any answers from support (because they essentially HAVE no support).

Reasons you may want to back away from one particular platform.

Here are a few things that might lead you to say maybe right now isn't the best time to work with this company.

You may just hate how you feel when working with them.

Call it the “It's not you, it's me” syndrome.

I will say this: when I started doing more Uber Eats earlier this year, I started feeling a lot more freedom. There's just enough pressure from the other apps regarding your ability to get scheduled and enough other things. Uber Eats seems free of a lot of that drama.

If you're really disliking delivery because of this that or the other thing about a platform, that might be a sign it's time to back down. Life's not worth being miserable.

When they go too far in disrespecting you or the independent contractor relationship.

This is where I was with Postmates. They crossed the line too often when it came to my rights as a contractor.

We had some customers that we fired back when I was in telecom. Certain owners or managers were disrespectful to our team, sometimes downright rude or nasty. It wasn't worth it to continue.

I love, absolutely love, the lack of stress when doing this delivery stuff. I'm watching a couple of companies threaten alot of drivers with deactivation lately, and to me, it's just not worth it.

When it no longer makes business sense.

I mentioned going several months without Uber Eats deliveries.

If you've been around, you know that until early this year, you didn't know where you were going when you accepted a delivery with them. You had no idea where you were going until you picked up the food at the restaurant.

It's impossible to make good decisions based on that lack of information. It just didn't pay well enough, to the point that I didn't even bother turning the app on.

If a relationship with any of these companies no longer meets your goals, it might be time to re-evaluate the relationship.

Is there a time to just fire them all?

In the Courier MBA series, Episode 22 was about knowing when to say when. I skipped that for the course in favor of the book keeping sessions. I kind of felt like it was too similar to the information on creating an exit plan.

If you've watched rideshare, you've seen the payouts get smaller and smaller. I've seen the same thing with delivery companies, where the fees they pay out have been lowered.

We can make up for lower fees with more efficient deliveries. But this is where I go back to your business goals.

You always want to be asking, is it enough? Are you earning enough?

If not, the next question is, Can it be enough? Are there things that can improve the situation?

At some point, the answer's going to be no.

Maybe it's no because the pay got too low. Or maybe you've outgrown this particular business.

This is why I really encourage you, have that exit plan. Have something to move to. The opportunities are awesome right now, but be ready for if it changes.

And know when to say when.

Could this help someone else? Please share it.