Bread and Butter Customers are the ones who buy from you regularly. They are the ones that buy just enough here and there cumulatively to keep your doors open. They are loyal. They are regular. They refer business to you. Once in a great while, the BIG ORDER comes in. A nice cash infusion and worth chasing. But they are at times associated with irregular order cycles. Irregular and deferred cash flow. Your bread and butter clients understand delay. They run businesses and have the same hurdles too.
The other day I contacted a company that I have done business with (and recently referred a friend who made a purchase). In a 4 minute phone call, the co-owner told me about 8 different ways that she couldn’t fill my “tiny” order of 5 thousand units. I normally work with her husband.
She went on to gloat about a big new order that they were working on, That she couldn’t fit in my “tiny” order, and actually made up illogical reasons (each of which I shot down) to delay a 24 hour process to over 3 weeks. She also added that she almost threw out her notes from our meeting. I asked, wryly “why would you do that?” “Oh, I hadn’t heard from you,” she said.
In all that I said to her, my point was a repeated firm and cold “maybe next time,” meaning, never again. She finally stopped talking and caught on the third time I said it and then asked me to email her the order and she would “see what she could do this week.”
Hmmm. What happend to 3 weeks?
I didn’t email her s***!
I found other 2 vendors in 10 minutes. Put out requests for bids. One replied in an hour, at 3:30 pm yesterday. Of course, I paid dearly for such expedited services, but in this case I deemed it necessary. When I repeated that I needed the order on time, the owner replied, “If I can’t get a courier, I will bring them myself.” And he did (45 miles each way). They just delivered the order to my home at 11:15 pm which gives me a head start on an important weekend project. We chatted briefly about their other services and I learned that they can help with 2 other areas of my business.
He did as he promised. I am happy with the product. I felt respected. He made a customer for life.
Don’t forget your bread and butter clients. They are working hard to grow into BIG businesses with BIG orders as well…and BIG memories.