Call me old-fashioned, but I miss when people trusted each other.
As a recovering New Yorker I have a track record of cynicism. 30 years later, I’d hoped to have outgrown much of it.
Shifting me back to my roots is a client I’ve worked with since 2011. We’ve always operated on a handshake, with completed projects billed and paid for promptly. Our relationship was built on mutual respect…or so I thought.
My mind changed when I hired his services for a small assignment, where he insisted on full payment in advance. His assistant told me; “That’s just how he does business.”
Admittedly, it’s time-consuming, expensive, and obnoxious to chase someone down for payment. When time is all you’re selling, mitigating such behavior becomes a matter of survival.
Service businesses are particularly susceptible to such abuse. In such cases, asking new clients for partial payment in advance makes perfect sense.
Still…there was our relationship…and I was hurt.
Briefly, I toyed with the idea of turning the tables and demanding payment for everything before our next assignment. This approach seemed petty, though, and I’m not sure he’d get the message.
Besides, I won’t play tit for tat, and can’t deliver my best work for someone who doesn’t trust me. Clearly, his actions proved there’s no trust in this relationship.
It was that impression of trust and equal partnership that had always encouraged me to give 110% on every assignment and campaign. There were great results that he profited by, and work we could both be proud of.
But because of his actions I’m no longer feeling the love, and see now I was only kidding myself before. To me we had a relationship; to him I was merely a vendor.
So I’m setting my fantasies and resentments aside and firing him from my roster. He deserves to have someone willing to give him their best efforts, and I can’t just take his money but work half-heartedly. It isn’t fair to either of us.
As you plan for 2020, consider whether you have the kind of customer relationships you want. Customers deserve for you to put your all into everything you do for them.
But if you’re merely working together for the money, perhaps it’s time to re-assess the relationship.
With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.
Mr. Marketing wishes you happy, uncynical days in 2020.