Dear Danielle: Do You Turn Away Clients and Customers Who Object to Your Policies

Dear Danielle:

I’m curious. Do you ever make exceptions regarding payment of your administrative services, your educational services or products sales, allowing for advanced payment by bank check or money order? Or do you always turn away potential customers if they do not accept your payment policies? I find it hard to believe that I’m the only one you’ve come across that will not use PayPal. I have many clients that would be leery and put off if that was all I offered them for a payment method. I must admit, though, I’m curious if you just turn people away or if you ever make exceptions to your rule? —CS

To be clear, this wasn’t an actual Dear Danielle question, but rather an email conversation I had recently with someone who didn’t want to make a purchase from me through PayPal, which is my payment processing vendor of choice and the service I use exclusively for that purpose. This person reported that she’d had a really horrific experience years ago with PayPal and she is reluctant to go through them for anything since. Perfectly understandable.

She asked if I would contact her if I ever decided to use a more “reliable” payment service and wanted to know my experience with it. While I am very much honored by and appreciative of her interest, and very sorry to hear of her terrible experience, my reply was that PayPal has been a very convenient, reliable service for me (I’ve been using it since around 2000 or so with no problems) and that I didn’t have any plans to move to or utilize any other service.

This prompted her question above and I thought it made for a very relevant business topic for you here on the blog today. As incomprehensible as it is to her that I would turn away money and clients (!), such lack or fear-based thinking is as incomprehensible to me. Because my answer is this:

Yes, I absolutely turn away clients and business that don’t fit with how I’ve set things up in my practice.

You will never have an ideal life or business if you work with unideal clients or accept situations that are less ideal than you’d prefer.

Life is simply too short. I learned that at the ripe “old” age of 30 when my late husband died and left me a widow and young single mother. That kind of experience really makes you reflect on life, what you want for yourself and your children, and how you want to live. It’s what fueled my fire to go into business for myself and have the self-determination, independence and lifestyle that self-employment brings. And it’s why I’m so passionate about sharing and helping others achieve what I have.

You’ve heard the saying, you’ve got to take care of yourself first so that you can take care of others. That is exactly the principle in play here.

One of the most basic tenets for having a successful business AND quality of life is running things in a way that suits your needs first and then working with only those who are the best fit for that.

This is how I run my business and it’s why I have a much more freedom-filled, stress-free life than most other people do in our industry. It’s nothing personal, but I’m not going to upend all my systems and processes for one person (or even a few) when the way things work in my business suits me fine.

I would expect and encourage you to do likewise in your business. When you put your focus on the ideal, you open space and invite more of the same into your life and business.

I consciously engineered my life like this long before I’d ever heard of Seth Godin, but this quote from his book Tribes sums up my life and business philosophy perfectly:

Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”

By focusing on the ideal, I don’t have to spend my time and energy dealing with the extra work, headaches and rabbit holes that making exceptions brings. And that gives me more time for life!

If you want to learn how you can engineer your business for more money, more life and less stress, I’m doing a class on a topic that directly affects your ability to do this:  pricing and packaging your retained support. The methods and principles I teach in this class can be implemented immediately for a simpler, easier business to run. I’d love to have you with us!

10 Responses

  1. Dani says:

    Great blog and question. I think of two things when reading her question. One is, does she fully know how paypal operates? Most people who dislike paypal do so because they don’t have a clear understanding of how it works. They feel they were duped or surprised and they generally had an issue arise where they were financially hurt by paypal. I had an issue where paypal froze my account when I first started my business due to an identity issue. I worked with them to fix it and further educated myself and all has worked out ok.

    In all my years I have only had one client who would not use paypal but she also did not have a credit card and wanted to pay by check.

    If someone is snubbing paypal I’m guessing they don’t realize that paypal is the most widely used payment company on the web these days and HUGE retailers use them as well as mom and pop businesses.

    Part of building your business is doing what you want. If you cater to every person on the planet you will exhaust yourself and burn out. Keep preaching it because it’s the truth! So sorry to hear about your late husband, I can’t imagine going through that at 30 years old.

    PS Love that quote too, thank you for sharing. I’ve been trying to put that exact feeling into words, thanks Seth and thanks Danielle!

  2. Hi Dani 🙂

    You put this so perfectly: “If you cater to every person on the planet, you will exhaust yourself and burnout.”

    Yes, I’ve found that when people have a problem with PayPal and particularly when they vent about it online, there’s usually a lot more to the story than they’re revealing and/or they simply didn’t do their own homework and want to blame everyone else for their failure. Not saying that’s the case with this woman; it just made me think of others, often who are shady or less than honest themselves, who have vented online about PayPal doing something wrong and want people to think it’s PayPal who was the bad guy.

    I’m also not saying PayPal is perfect or that I have any special loyalty or sentimentality for them. You can call up with the same question, and if you talk to three different CS people, you can get three entirely different answers. But the thing is, you’re going to have issues no matter who or what the payment processor is. They are ALL a necessary evil, lol.

    But I’ve settled with PayPal because it is the most convenient and easy to use; like you say, they are very well established and recognized worldwide; after all these years, I pretty much know all the ins and outs and pitfalls and can utilize accordingly; and I would much rather have a problem occur with them than any merchant account where there is no third party shield and I would have a more difficult time resolving.

  3. Nancy says:

    I disagree. I think there are places where we need to be flexible if we want to gain loyal customers. I’m not saying you should offer whatever a client wants….but I am saying that you should have an alternative method of payment. I personally know a lot of people who do not use paypal because they’ve heard of others who’s info was stolen. It doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t know HOW to use it.

    There are merchants out there that are legit and charge a minimal % but there is no set up charge and no merchant account that needs to be set up. Perhaps this is a good enough alternative payment method?

  4. Oh, sweet, Nancy 🙂

    I think you’re missing the point of this post entirely.

    If that’s something you want to do and that’s of value to you in your business, by all means, do that. But I don’t suffer from any lack of loyal clients or customers, and I’m simply not interested in spending the time looking into or setting up alternatives.

    You don’t need to be accommodating to everyone or everything in order to gain loyal clients and customers. It’s just as easy to find all the clients you want who don’t have any problem whatsoever with how you run things in your business as there are those who want special exceptions made just for them. Focus on the former rather than the latter as they are going to be the best, easiest and most-happy making clients to work with.

    But I understand that not everyone is going to really “grok” that, especially those who are newer in business. They tend to chase after every piece of business that comes their way and after a few years they often find that the business and clients are running them and the tail is wagging the dog, instead of the other way around. 😉

  5. Cheryl says:

    I’m the writer of that question, and I just thought I would jump in here. I do understand fully how PayPal works, I’ve used it from both sides, and have one client that uses it and I facilitate his account for him and I still would not use it. There is no use going into the ‘story’ of my bad experience but suffice it to say that my bank got involved, on my behalf, because the situation got so bad. I do understand that things happen, with any processor, but this crossed all boundary lines and more. I have been in business for nearly 13 years, and although in the beginning I did jump thru hoops to bring on clients, I haven’t’ done this for a very long time. I have a thriving practice, with 3 employees and have recently turned away clients, not because of policy conflicts but because I am too busy. I do not chase every possible client that comes my way. I believe a client has to be a good fit for both parties. I have long standing clients and new clients, high end clients and clients that are just starting out in business, and from many different industries. I manage my business the way I choose to, making choices that suit my lifestyle and love of the work that I do. I have even dropped clients because it didn’t work well or feel right, so I do run my business with MY goals clearly in focus. However, I also remember that I am in business to provide a service to others and feel it is important to accommodate my clients in such a way that it works for both of us, so that we each benefit from the results. I also believe in making it easy for my clients. They are all busy business people struggling to accomplish 35 hours of work in a 24 hour day, so I seek to find solutions that work well for them and if that means providing options to payment processing or allowing for an alternate billing date, answering that one expected call that comes in 10 minutes after hours, then I will do it. I value my personal time and it does come first, but I value my clients as well. They are all good, hard working people, just like me. I’m in business to make their lives just a little easier and hopefully profitable. My family and personal life come first, I make clear choices about my business and I do so knowing that both my client and I will benefit and sometimes that means providing more than one way of doing things just to make things a little easier.

  6. Hi Cheryl 🙂

    You mentioned a key phrase in here which is this: “to accommodate my clients in such a way that it works for both of us.

    What you aren’t seeing in this particular situation is that making special accommodation does not work for me. Remember, there’s an “us” in there, not just you. 😉

    If something doesn’t work for one or the other party, there is no fit. This is what outlining your ideal client profile is all about.

    I don’t want to beat the whole PayPal thing into the ground because that’s not the point of the post whatsoever. But I do want to point out that offering PayPal as an exclusive payment processing provider is far from being unaccommodating to clients as you seem to imply. You simply don’t like them. That’s okay. But I get to decide what works for me in my business and what I want to accommodate and what I don’t, just as you do.

    Or is it your contention that I don’t have that right, that what only matters is what you want?

  7. Plus, in all honesty, in view of this additional conversation, I’m seeing that you are stuck more in an old school, secretarial service frame of mind which wouldn’t make you a good fit for the class ultimately anyway. So the positive side is that we got that figured out right up front. I do wish you all the best though!

  8. Patty Ravany says:

    Very inspiring and empowering post, loved to know more about your life Danielle 🙂

    – Patty

  9. Julia says:

    Beautifully written words to live by.

  10. Becky says:

    There are always two sides to every story. I’ve had a bad experience with pay pal as well and would not use them again.

    I have a debit check card and a credit card, I would prefer to use these instead of going through paypal. As for payment from customers, credit cards and check cards, I use Intuit and my Quickbooks program.

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