Ever watch Pulp Fiction?
Did you think Samuel L. Jackson played the good cop and John Travolta the bad cop?
What can the bad cop / good cop approach to running a small business teach us?
Well…let me ask you this question:
What sort of small business owner are you?
Do you comply with everything which your customers ask of you, or are you more of the Rottweiler type, who is bluntly honest about what you will deliver, and never over deliver?
Both of these tactics have strengths and weaknesses, but most people could do with tempering their personal style a little to get the best possible results from their business, and develop superb relationships with their customers.
I’m not sure what type of business owner I would fall under – sometimes I think I am the good cop, bending over backwards to give my customers exactly what they want…and much more.
On the other hand, I sometimes go through the opposite type of interaction – the bad cop style of customer service, where I am very honest about what I think needs to be done, manage expectations perfectly upfront, and then give myself enough time to do a great job without slaving overnight to deliver to a tight deadline.
As a small business owner, I am always aware of the way I may come across to my customers.
My natural instinct is to be as helpful as possible at all times, even if that means I lose a little of my personal life on the way towards delivering exactly what my customers need, earlier than expected.
I am always struggling with the financial aspect of the business, wanting to quote less for people who are starting up for the first time, and yet I know that if I conducted my business like that every day, I’d be going bankrupt even as I helped to launch a hundred small businesses for the lowest possible price.
Charging for work is a hotbed of discomfort for most people that I know. I have a colleague that puts off invoicing until the very last moment, as she feels so uncomfortable requesting payment for the work that she has done.
This means she is constantly behind in her revenue generation, allowing the natural hesitance to discuss finances to spill over in to her business and prevent her from staying on top of the most important part of working for her customers.
While her customers probably think she is a ‘Good Cop’, she will be the first to acknowledge that she need to sharpen up considerably if her business is going to be a success.
There are a number of signs that you are falling too far on the good cop or bad cop continuum. See if you can spot yourself in either of these categories:
Good Cop attributes…
- You would rather do work for free than tackle the issue of invoicing and chasing payment
- You end up offering your services for nothing or at a massive discount because you feel sorry for your clients
- You work all hours to deliver a project just because your customer has placed an unreasonable deadline on you, canceling social events or neglecting your friends and family.
Bad Cop attributes
- If you don’t like someone, you whack on an extra load of expenses on to the quote you give, so you don’t have to work with them
- You put too much focus on ‘sticking to your guns’ with customers, ending up being inflexible even when they really need your help
- You’re not happy to drop everything at the last minute if you’re not in the mood to do your outstanding work for customers.
If you find yourself nodding at either one of these strategies, it may be worth tempering your approach to your customers to make sure you don’t end up with no life at all, or let your customers down.
We all work at different speeds and prices, but being true to yourself, while providing great customer service, is the only way to get your business to thrive.
Are you Samuel L. Jackson (good cop) or John Travolta (bad cop)?
Please share your views in the comments below.