Thursday, July 24, 2008

off my back

Yesterday marked the first time I gave an annoying client a partial refund just to avoid dealing with her anymore. The way my training works is that you pay a flat fee for unlimited training sessions - either for a year, or the life of the dog, depending on which package you choose. The first sessions lasts two hours and covers a LOT of ground. The owners are then given "homework" to do with their dog, which I tell them to work on for 2-3 weeks and then call me when they're ready for a follow-up. I call them a week after the first session to see how they're doing, and then leave it up to them to let me know when they're ready for the next visit.

Pretty straightforward, right? Yet some people just CAN'T grasp the concept. I'll explain it to them when they first call me to enquire about training, and still, some of them will ask "So...how many sessions does that cover?". And others interpret unlimited follow-ups (as needed) to mean "I expect you to come to my house weekly, at a set time, and train my dogs for me.". This client fell into that group. The first session was about 3 months ago. I called a week later and they hadn't even started working with their dog because they'd all been sick. No problem, I told them to go ahead and get started, work on it for a couple weeks, then call me when they're ready.

Three months later I finally get a voicemail from her. I call back and leave a message on their voicemail. I don't hear from them. Meanwhile, I'm busy with all my other clients and am not going to keep calling this one til they answer. A couple weeks later I get an irate voicemail to the tune of "We've had NO contact with you since the first lesson! You need to call so we can schedule a regular time for you to come train our dogs!". Um...first off, we HAVE spoken since the first lesson. Second, I returned your call and never heard from you. Third....you wait three months to schedule a follow up and now think you can write my schedule for me??

So yeah, I showed up at the house and the client was just as short with me as she was on the phone. Very terse and unfriendly. She didn't even say hello when she opened the door, she just said "come in". She seemed to expect me to come weekly and do all the work for her, as she has no time to work with her dogs. First of all, me working with your dogs once a week won't get the results you want. Any training requires daily practice in order to get results. Second, I never told you that follow-ups are weekly visits. They are as needed, to help if things aren't going well, and to continue the training as the dogs progress.

Blah blah..anyway, I could tell she was just not going to accept this, and was going to be extremely difficult to work with and would never be happy. So I offered her a partial refund, I just charged what I would have for a single visit (which I normally don't offer, because spot-treating just doesn't really work) and gave her a check for the difference. I lost money, but I think in this case I made the right choice. As I learned from the last nightmare client, sometimes the money isn't worth the grief. She actually seemed kind of shocked - I don't think she was expecting that. She kept trying to goad me into a confrontation, and I just wouldn't take the bait. She wasn't expecting a refund. I basically told her that I'm sorry, but I have far too many clients to allow me to do weekly visits and that rather than have an unhappy client, I'd rather give her money back and allow her to find someone who could meet her expectations. (good luck with that, honey) It was kind of funny. It's always amusing to see someone's face when they're looking for an argument and instead get an "I'm sorry you're unhappy, here, have a refund.".

Eh, I've been successful with 98% of my clients, have lots of satisfied dog owners..they can't ALL like me. And I didn't particularly like this woman when we first met anyway. She's sort of stiff and humorless, not much personality. And, obviously, expects things to be done FOR her.

Meanwhile, on the art front, I sold my last tree painting yesterday! I was kind of sad to see it go - it's actually the first one of that series that I painted. There were three, and the first two sold right away. This one sat around for months, I was begining to think it'd never go. A few days ago I posted a better photograph of it, and it sold. It's kind of like seeing your kids leave home when you send a painting off. I'm happy someone wants it in their home, but I'm sort of attached to it and a bit sad to see it go. Hehehehe. I'm a dork.

I've got some stamp orders to fill - one that I'm doing as a trade, and the other is a custom request for a set of a dozen or so. I'm working on drawings for that one still! I better go get busy instead of whining here. :)

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About Me

Hippieville, CA, United States
This is the story of life after losing the "real" job and the house, trying to find the middle ground between making a living and actually living.