Is the customer always right?

By Erik "IKE" Eikevik

3 years ago I merged my Fathers Co. With my Grandfathers which is one of the oldest in the country (almost 70yrs), minus my grandfather or my father as both have passed away years ago from cancer. Both of them had worked their entire life’s in the pool industry and so have I since I was 8yrs old helping out on a fire up. You could say I learned everything from them and boy did they know a lot. Now My dad died 7 yrs ago when I was 30 and my grandfather when I was 18 so I haven’t been able to go to either of them for advice etc. on running a pool business and all the challenges that come with it. I was pushed up into ownership when my father passed during the recession, so I have come to learn more from others, or by educating myself, networking, and finding help. There is one thing that is really hard to learn by someone just telling you that’s a friendly competitor, industry mate or teaching a class.

That would be “is the customer (client) always right” and if so “when are they wrong”. This can be the line in the sand between tons of referrals, good reviews, lots more work or bad review, bad referral and less work etc. Well we say a lot of clients don’t understand how things work, are built, layout, contracts, natural causes blah blah blah…. What if you say we do such a good job we will never have issues. That’s not true there is always issues out of our control from building dept. trouble to bad weather that causes issues. Things you can’t control and sometimes some clients don’t care or just hear excuses. We work so hard to give clients the best service they can find and supplying top of line quality work whether it’s design, installs, or service and repair after completion we work our butts off to deliver this in best quality found in our industry. Sometimes or a lot of times maybe even all the time you have clients who won’t ever be happy or are very difficult to work for or with.

How are they always right, especially the worst ones and trust me being raised in this industry my entire life I’ve watched some bad ones! When we know a thousand times they are wrong how are they always right? Well they aren’t right but business is and you do everything it takes to make them happy cause business is good when you make them happy. When you fix a issue that’s a mistake without hesitation or them seeing it first, when you lose money doing it, when you warranty things that shouldn’t be covered or that the customer messed it up but is blaming you for and wants it fixed. They are “right” when they need you because they made a mistake or a Co they hired to maintain your work made a mistake and they want you to fix it.

You don’t just warranty and fix everything as we are here to make a profit and be successful but the customers who think they are right when they are wrong some of those really hard ones that will argue till your blue in the face. It’s hard to do but by sucking it up if not a huge money expense can bring more wealth back as a lot of those customers know they are a pain and that they are wrong and you taking care of those ones you don’t like sometimes they will recommend you even more now because of it.

How about the price of not stressing and arguing with them and the stress that brings home to your family what’s that wealth worth how can that allow you to get other things done by moving on and eating it. We are a Design, Build and Maintenance Firm. We have pools we designed, built and still maintain from the 1950s, some built out of concrete block even! We have had over 800 pool maintenance accounts since the 1960s and I can’t tell you how many of those accounts we have had that where clients who are difficult and have been wrong that we took care of instead of endless arguments, have turned from eating a small motor or chemical charge into a large repair or large construction project. I learned this from the Co with slogans like “the service you want from the people you know” “ we build the best and service the rest” “ the customer is king” I’ve learned they are always right and a lot of the time you are right in the end by allowing them to be right!