I recently got fired...

... by my dog’s groomer.

It’s been 16 weeks since my dog, Bailey, had her last grooming. I only know this because of an Instagram I posted that day — it might as well have been a year. It is not for lack of trying: I’ve been calling the groomer at least once a week for over a month. They never call me back, so it’s time to take a hint:

I’ve been fired. By my dog groomer.

There was an inkling that something might be up after the second week of no return calls, and I probably knew I was being fired as a customer even a few weeks ago. It’s a real blow to the ego to be fired by your dog groomer; this kind of thing takes some time to set in.

I’ve come to terms with my termination, although I’m not happy about it. Why did the Pampered Pooch decide I wasn’t someone to do business with anymore? Some ideas:

- I brought my dog early for appointments. Convenient for me on my walk to work, but it probably wasn’t fair to just drop Bailey off a few hours early.
- I don’t brush my dog. She always showed up matted, and difficult for the groomer to deal with.
- I’m inconsistent. Instead of being at the groomer every eight weeks, I went more like 11 or 12.

Alright, so I wasn’t the best customer they had. Certainly not the worst, but far from the best. I suspect that for the $75 per grooming they were getting, they decided I just wasn’t worth the aggravation.

This made me consider my own business: which customers really aren’t worth it?

We only have so much time and so many resources within our businesses. At Woden, we have approximately 240 man-hours per week, and need to allocate them to the best opportunities: the firms that provide the most interesting work, are the easiest to deal with, and pay the best rate. Each time we bump up against the cap of time available, my partner and I ask ourselves: should we add more resources, or are we better swapping out some existing clients for a new one?

Most often we add more people, but every now and then, that exercise makes us realize that we’re better off without a client. They don’t pay on time. They complain about the work constantly. They don’t respect deadlines. They take up too much time. Their work is outside of our core competency. All of these are good reasons for letting a customer go.

Firing customers is a good thing for your business. The question becomes how to do it, and that’s my only quibble with the Pampered Pooch. If they don’t want my business, that’s their prerogative (and probably a good decision!), but they should at least return my call. 

My approach in firing customers has always been to raise their rate. There’s really no such thing as a customer you don’t want, just one that doesn’t pay enough to be worth the aggravation. When a customer is difficult, set a rate that is in line with their difficulty.

They’ll blanche and choose to leave you, or pay the higher rate. Either way, you’ve solved your problem. And if they leave, they’ll be running around telling people you’re expensive instead of complaining that you don’t return calls (I’d rather be known as pricey than inattentive!).

None of this changes the fact that in 16 weeks, my dog has become a matted mess of hair. Does anyone know a good dog groomer in Philadelphia?