Quote of the Week

"One cool judgment is worth a thousand hasty councils."
- Woodrow Wilson

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Saying No to a Customer is Never Fun

Recently I had to "no quote" a project. I can not stand doing that. Work is work and I like to take on as much as I can, but sometimes you just have to say no.

The project was designing a plastic injection mold that produces three different medical instruments. It really looked like a fun project, but a very time consuming one. Unfortunately with my current and projected schedule, I would not be able to devote the amount of time required for it's complexity. I'll spare you the details, but it would have been a pretty wild and challenging project. A project that I would have enjoyed being a part of.

I will regret turning this one down for a long time. Not only is it work I'm walking away from, but a chance to build on a relationship with a new customer. A customer that I've only done a few projects with and would like to do more work for. That was also a strong deciding factor on way I turned it down.

If I decided to chance it and take on more than I could handle, the quality of this project (and everything else I'm currently working on) would suffer. A good way to loose the confidence of a new customer is to turn away challenging work.

A better way to loose the confidence of a customer is to take on challenging work and fail miserably by making preventable mistakes. Mistakes that can ruin the whole project before the customer even cuts the first piece of steel. Simple mistakes that normally I wouldn't have made or didn't find while reviewing my work, because I was rushed.

Two things has remained constant in the mold making trade since I got into it during the mid nineties: it has to be right, and it has to be done on time. Missing a deadline is not acceptable. Missing one delivery date can mean loosing a steady long term customer. I will put in long days that leave me with 3 or 4 hours of sleep. I will work through weekends and miss family events to meet a dead line. But I will not take on more than I know I can handle, because nobody wins. Quality and productivity is lost. I suffer and so does my work. That means my customers start off with a sub par design that may cause them problems, long days, working through weekends and possibly disappointing their customers. Both my and my customer's professional reputation can be negatively impacted.

No quoting a customer is never fun and I despise doing it. Personally it feels like I'm saying "No thanks, I don't want your business. It's not important enough for me or my company." But taking on something while knowing I can not deliver the product correct and on time is worse. The customer may see it as me saying "Here you go. It should be good... maybe. Sorry it's so late. Good luck getting the job done on time. Please give me your money, net 30 days."

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