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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Friends and Clients, Not the Same Thing

A friend is getting an addition put on her house. The general contractor she hired is an acquaintence. He does fabulous work, so that's not the issue. The issue is he told her he'd start Monday and it's Wednesday and (last I spoke with her), he hasn't started yet. One of the reasons for the delay was a funeral he had to conduct. (He's also a bishop in the LDS church.)

She said to me, "I just don't want to have to care about my contractor's personal life. I don't want to have compassion for someone. I just want the job done."

Now, she is not a horrible person. She's actually a wonderful person and she understands that you can't schedule funerals in advance and she's not going to hold it against him. But, she wants the work done.

I think her statement "I just don't want to have to care about my contractor's personal life," is something those of us who want to get friends to hire us should think about. People want to be able to fire a company that isn't living up to their standards without worrying that poor Susie is going to lose her house.

Which just means, if you are trying to woo friends as customers, you really need to work twice as hard to keep them happy. They need to be really sure you aren't going to flake out on them and ruin both a business relationship and a personal one as well.

You should also be cautious about forcing your business on them. (This means you, you home party people. I don't want a candle. If I wanted Southern Living I'll move to the south, and I would rather stick pins in my eyes before I "stamp it up.")

Fortunately, before I went on this rant, I got Miss Manners' approval. Her column today addressese the friend-business relationship. (2nd letter)
Dear Miss Manners: My niece has begun a new career as a financial adviser with a well-known investment/brokerage house. She has been given extensive training and informed that she must produce a certain volume of business in a specified time.

She e-mailed a copy of her "complimentary consultation/introductory bio" letter to her personal mailing list.

Alarms went off and I replied: "Most of us who have lived past our teen years have had the uncomfortable experience that a friend in a new sales career is looking at us as a possible client rather than as a friend. Try to avoid creating that feeling in your friends (they tend to last longer as friends that way)."

Just how far over the line have I gone?

Gentle Reader: All the way across contemporary thinking, to what Miss Manners hopes will eventually be out the other side.

You, Miss Manners and civilized people believe that the best use of money is to support personal life. Others believe that the best use of personal life is to make more money.

Need I mention how much I love Miss Manners?


First Year said...

This is so true (though not all of us Southern Gals are having tupperware parties, buying pampered chef, or any of that at home party crap)

Its the main reason I don't like the idea of lending/borrowing money from friends. I like to keep the two totally seperate :)

she said: said...

If I could give your friend any advise... get a new contractor now. I have learned a million times, if you are upset before the job starts - there is never a chance you aren't going to be unhappy when the job ends. Pay the extra money to get someone who will do the job and now screw around. It will save her from busting a blood vessel.

Evil HR Lady said...

First year, I totally hear you. No money to friends or relatives. (Fortunately, I haven't had people ask lately, knock on wood.)

She said--see that's why I don't hire people I know. Because I could never fire a friend. At least this guy is a great contractor--as long as people stop dying he should be good to go.