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When is it Time to Fire Your Customer?

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There comes a time in a business relationship where it's just time to say enough is enough.

How do you know when it's time?

More often than not, I think you just know. Something deep inside you knows. Now we may have enough other things going on that we don't always listen to what that part of us deep down is saying, but eventually we figure it out.

There comes a time when it's time to kick a client to the curb. To say I'm done. Maybe it's you, maybe it's them, but it's no longer a fit. If it ever gets to that point it's better to recognize that sooner than later.

Grubhub, you're fired. Doordash, time to pack up your stuff and go home.

There is a difference between firing your customer and firing one of their customers.

Okay, so I know that in yesterday's article, we got a bit out of character in the whole customer service discussion, where we talked about service to the end user. In other articles I've been stating that our customer is the company we are contracted to.

Now there are times we want to fire the customer's customers. The nature of our relationship allows us to do that. There are some restaurants I will not deliver from. I will not do deliveries for a restaurant that will treat me terribly. Fortunately, there really are very few of those around in my experience. More often than not though it's a business decision, where I know that that particular restaurant doesn't fit within my business requirements. I know that their staff doesn't seem to have its act together (for instance there are certain fast food locations that I will gladly take and others of the same brand that I won't). I just know that an order from that location is going to take so much longer that the order cannot meet my 40 cents per minute rule.

There are certain restaurants on Postmates and Doordash that I will not deliver from. It really has nothing to do with the restaurant themselves but it has more to do with the fact that I will have to order the food when I get there. There's an ice cream place that is on both platforms that come to mind, there's always a long line.

You may have certain end users you refuse to deliver to if they've been abusive to you in the past. That's well within your right, and in fact you should refuse in those situations.

There is a difference between firing your customer and moving on.

There comes a time when it's just time to do something different. We talk about this a bit in podcast episode 7 and the related article about having an exit plan, and episode 22 about knowing when to say when.

You may decide that it no longer makes sense to do the delivery gig. That's okay. It can happen for a variety of reasons: You are no longer earning what you need to earn, it's no longer enough. The delivery gig life may no longer meet your why or something comes along that fits you better. You may have caught the entrepreneurial bug and found something even better to focus on.

The thing with a lot of these is, you may not necessarily decide to make a complete break. You might keep options open and may not decide to totally burn the bridge. I have passions that I'd love to eventually become a full time thing, but I could still see myself schlepping deliveries around from time to time.

There may come a time though when it's right to end the relationship with a particular customer.

The main thing is when a particular customer, whether it be Doordash, Instacart, Postmates, Shipt, Grubhub, Caviar, Bitesquad, Deliv or others, crosses a line and it's time to end that particular relationship. Is it possible that the time comes when you have to say goodbye to one without necessarily quitting the whole delivery gig?

I don't necessarily mean just not using an app.

Case in point is my current use (or lack thereof) of Uber Eats. The bottom line is that as long as their app does not provide information on where the customer is when offering an order, I don't have enough information to make good decisions. I still make the occasional delivery for them, just barely enough to keep the relationship in tact in case something changes. It's not a matter that they have crossed a line.

Three signs it's time to cut ties with a particular delivery platform.

I think it's possible for a customer to cross a line. I see some things in some of these apps that are already coming close to that line, and the question becomes if and when it ever gets to be too much to put up with. That's often a personal decision. Here are some areas where a company can cross the line too much.

When you just absolutely despise delivering for the company.

This could fall into the “it's not you, it's me” category. If there is something that happens somewhere in the interaction with a company where you just hate doing deliveries for them, it might be time to call it good.

I don't think the reason necessarily has to be legitimate, if you know what I mean. For example, there are plenty who are fed up with the Grubhub pay model change. I see a lot of areas where it has actually created more opportunities, but a lot of people are very emotional about it. Whether the emotion is rational or not, if the emotion is that strong there may be a mental health benefit to cutting ties.

When the company crosses the line of disrespect

This is the area where I may struggle the most.

You can start with the whole independent contractor verses employee issue. Honestly, I think the decision to designate drivers as independent contractors IS a huge area of disrespect. For most people they bring on, it is exploitative because they are asking people to act like employees without providing what they are required to provide. I believe it's possible to make a decent enough living doing this even in that environment that I'm not sure it's crossed the line yet, but there's a definite tension.

Grubhub is really pushing the limits on this one, in my opinion. They are trying to crack down on drivers who aren't accepting enough orders. The problem is in the way they are doing it. I have often heard reports of what people have been told verbally about what is expected. These are things that would never be put in writing because they cannot legally require these things. Grubhub knows this is illegal but they push the limits. I believe that this is the kind of thing that could make the relationship untenable.

I believe the current controversy over the Doordash pay model is another example. Some feel that they are stealing tips, and that is enough reason to not do business with them. Sometimes it's not as important whether the accusation is correct. If an issue like this gets to an emotional level for you, that may be enough to draw the line.

When your worth is more than they are willing to meet

We had customers in telecom that were always trying to chip away at our value. They tried to argue out of every bill or get every penny they could of free service. It came to a point where we just had to say you need to find someone you can afford.

Two things can happen when it comes to this area. One is that the company reduces what it will pay to the point it's no longer worth it. The other is that your estimation of your worth becomes more than these companies can or will pay.

Because we do things on a delivery by delivery basis, I don't see this as being likely to happen. There are a lot of offers from any of these companies that fall below my worth. But there are still enough from each that still make it worth keeping the relationship intact.

At some point though, I think we'll just find ourselves bumping up against a ceiling. There is only so high that you can go in a consistent and sustainable manner. If we are growing personally and professionally, the time will come when the ceiling is just too hard and too low to make sense.

To Quit or Not to Quit

Is it better to just end it? Or is it better to pause the relationship or put it on the back burner? I'm not sure I can tell you how to tell, that's a personal kind of decision.

Here are some parting thoughts I have on the matter.

Don't burn a bridge unless you know without a shred of doubt you never want to cross that bridge again.

If you're getting anywhere close to feeling like one of these lines is being crossed, you really need to go back to Episode 7. Think about what you will be doing next. Think about the things you are passionate about, think about what kind of things are a good fit. Start preparing for the what's next. I think there comes a time where you grow past what this gig can offer, and that's not a bad thing at all.

Could this help someone else? Please share it.

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