Why You Might Be Last in Line / How to Get to the Front

One of the not-so-secret secrets in business is that companies do not treat all customers the same. This should not be shocking: retailers have “preferred customer” programs; the TSA has a PreCheck program that allows some to skip the long lines; our local big box hardware stores have preferred parking for some customers. Our favorite Chinese restaurant always adds a sweet to our order, and our favorite Thai restaurant always comps us an appetizer. All customers never have been, nor never will be of equal value to businesses.
At Kona Impact, we are always busy and never start the day without at least a handful of days of work “in the queue”. We make decisions every day on what projects to do first, next and last. While we try to stick to a “first in, first out” process, at times we have projects that get to jump the queue and take priority over existing projects. We don’t like to do this a lot, but, truth be told, all of our clients are not equal.
waiting in line
Here’s are some things you can do to put yourself at the end of the line:

  1. Have a history of paying your invoices slowly. If I can do a project that has instant cash flow, all things being equal, I will do that one first. Think about it. Wouldn’t you?
  2. Give us only small, no-profit projects. We don’t mind doing your business cards or a few stickers, but these projects make us very little money and take a lot of our time.  If you have us do bigger projects, we’re very happy to do these smaller projects.
  3. Be known for start-and-stop projects. We don’t get paid until the project is done, so if you start and then stop projects, we’re less likely to start new projects for you.
  4. Be known as someone who requires excessive revisions. If your sign has more than 3 revisions cycles, something is wrong. We once had a client go through 12 revisions on a business card; we have declined all work from her since. Be prepared. Be comprehensive in your feedback. Be respectful of our time.
  5. Be a grump. Leave your grumpy personality in your car. Don’t “stink talk” other providers. If you need to put down other people to make yourself feel better, you’ll do the same to us. Customers are not entitled to petulant behavior, just as you would not expect it from us. A “please” and “thank you” can go a long way.

How do you get to the front of the line?
First, expect preferential treatment for your project only on occasion, not every day. We’re happy to work late or work weekends to help you out if you’re in a pinch, but clients who are always in crisis mode for their projects are tedious and dispreferred. On occasion, yes. Every project, no!

  1. Pay invoices quickly
  2. Let us make money from you by having us do a variety of big and small projects
  3. Complete projects you start. Don’t go fishing for the lowest price by asking for excessive price quotes (that you seldom accept).
  4. Come to us with a clear idea what you’d like. Provide comprehensive feedback on the first revision. Making changes on changes shows a lack of respect for our time.
  5. We love what we do and try to keep a positive work environment. We want to hear if your project does not meet your expectations. We don’t want to hear about Trump, City Hall, your previous provider or anything else that you want to be grumpy about.

Some may say that it’s not right for businesses to give preferential treatment to some customers. Well, the truth is it happens every day at every business. A more reasonable way to look at it is to figure out what you are doing to move to the front of the line (on occasion) or the back of the line.