firedEarlier in the year, I had a call from a supplier. He told me he would have to raise the price of supplies he sold to us. It would be significant. It didn’t sound like there would be any room for negotiation. I had a sense then that things were going to come to a head then, and today they did.

I received a call from the same supplier earlier today. Despite the fact that I pay all of my bills on time, he said he would have to raise prices. There would be no room for negotiations. The price of oil was just too expensive. This despite the fact that the price of oil has actually actually decreased. And, to make things more interesting, I would have to pay 6 months in advance for all supplies. So, essentially, I would be underwriting his business with my money.

Here’s what I did, I fired him and his company.

Respect For Your Clients

I get that businesses have to increase prices. I’m a businessman and I understand the economics of profit. However, what I don’t respect is treating clients, customers and people with disrespect.

Here’s the bottom line, this supplier was not calling me up today to raise his prices because of the price of oil. We all know the price of oil is down. He insulted my intelligence with that argument. What he wanted to do was to transfer all of the risk of his company to me. I’m not sure he received the memo: When clients pay on time and are loyal don’t play games with them.

What made this call worse was that he opened up with talk about how valuable I am to his business. He acknowledged how great we’re doing and what a difference we’re making in the world with our social enterprise. I don’t need to be buttered up to then get told I would be paying significant price increases (no discussion) and would have to pay for supplies 6 months in advance. Seriously? All of it is insulting.

Treat Your Clients As Smart Business People

Clients are not stupid. We read the papers. We know what’s happening in the world. We’re smart business people. If you own a business or lead any type of organization, start out with that premise. You’re dealing with intelligent people out there.

When you understand that you’re working with smart people, you will automatically respect them. Don’t cook up ways to save yourself by pretending your clients will not see right through what you’re trying to pull. If there are liquidity or cash flow issues, there are other ways to deal with these matters. Being dishonest with your clients is not one of them.

You don’t need to insult the intelligence or stroke the ego of your customers. You should deal straight to the heart of the matter if something has to change in your business relationship that affects your customers. Being open, honest and transparent is the way to approach any business relationship. Obfuscating the truth and thinking that your clients are not able to understand what you’re doing is not good business practice in this day and age.


Author of “The Rise and Fail of Charities In the 21st Century: How The Nonprofit World Is Changing And What You Can Do To Be Ready”.


© 2015 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.