Njuki Moments

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Dear customer,you are fired.

Business exists for the customer,right? Very right. We need to do whatever we can to attract more customers while we hold onto those we have ,right? Wrong. Much as it is true that we can never ever survive or come into being if we do not have customers,it is also important to know that not all customers are the same,and hard as it may be to appreciate not all customers are suited for your business.
As employees,we are used to this happening,where you get fired.It's rumored some employers even get satisfaction firing someone.However,the same is not a common occurrence with customers, after all we say customer is king,and it would be a fool who 'fires' his own king! Imagine that.

I had been in business for a while and getting clients is not the easiest thing that happens to you when you are doing business.Actually you have to happen to the customers,if you like, for them to notice you and even give you business. I had    this new  client who was doing wonders to my world. The biggest at that moment,and biggest I mean,his weekly orders were about double my other clients'. My product seemed to be flying off his shelves. We were a match made in heaven. I mean,when I went to collect my cheque, I would never leave without tea with the boss. I was happy. I was living the business dream. I wanted and even prayed for more clients like that,and he was even good enough to recommend other institutions that needed my services.

This was the agreement. I will deliver whenever you call, and I will pick my cheque after a week. Agreeable. However,if you ever order for the week is out,that would indicate that all my stock has been sold and therefore,arrangements shall be made for my payment to be made after the next delivery is done. No need to wait the week.Still agreed.

So we happily did business. My other clients could have suffered. We concentrated on this client.When he ordered,we jumped. He was our priority. There are challenges though with depending on one person for business growth or even survival. After a while,payment was not as regular,but hey, we were friends,or were we?
So I did not ask too many questions. Then we got to the interesting part where suppliers we re required to pick payment for Kampala supplies from another branch.The problem with that kind of arrangement is that no one knows you when you go to collect payment,you could just be another messenger,so they can even ask you to come back another week.Just like that. I did not ask or complain about the arrangement till ironically our initial order size tripled. You can still argue this was huge business and he would pay eventually,right? May be. The credit was killing the business. You see when you do not get paid when you should be and yet you need to produce more you need to find another source of financing to fill the gap. At your cost of course,what did you think. One of the skills I have picked up in this business game,because it is a game,is to trust my instinct.
One morning I woke up,with a huge smile on my face. I even wore a tie that day. Yes. I camped at my 'favorite' client's  office,and nicely asked to see the boss. Tea was served. Yes. I saw boss and we chatted a while and I asked for full payment for previous deliveries. "Is this necessary",he asked. "Yes" ,I responded,and kindly reminded him that we have also considered stopping supplying till all balances are cleared.

I did get payment in about five installments in a period of five months and our relationship came to a close. You could say,it had already suffered the day we disagreed on interpretation of the agreement. When the business was sold a few months later, I must have thought I had psychic abilities.

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