I wrote the following snippet for my blog and thought it could be used here as well...
"We only do business with customers we like," is an adage that I have come across before and which I use - because it works. Now, before I go into why I adhere to this principal, I want to clarify by what I mean by 'liking' a customer....
There is a difference for me between people who are just really 'nice' and between customers I 'like' (although I have found that great customers are often 'lekker' people as well).
The kind of customer I like is:
1. One who wants to do business (possibly with my company), rather than just chancing their luck to see what they can get for free (or at a super-duper discount).
2. One who respects the relationship that may be formed. (I have come across some American 'negotiators' whose tactics are to come in blazing in the hope of knocking down pricing etc. Eg. Purposefully starting meetings late when there are two dozen people from the supplier waiting for them; pretending to 'scratch around' for the documentation that has been sent, and then 'just read through it quickly' when by what they say in the talks you know they have been studying it intensely before; and by using derogatory and pushy language to get your backs up.) No matter how much money deals like this may bring in for you, just don't do it! You will spend all of your profit from the job in continuous haggling and court cases - it is not actually worth it in either monetary or emotional terms. And you can tell them right up front that unless there is an attitude adjustment you are not interested in their business. (Then you'll probably see some changes!)
3. Only do work that you like. I kid you not! I'm not talking about how tedious or difficult the work may be. I'm talking about whether you feel comfortable in your mind and soul about doing the work. Let's say that I know that a shoe manufacturer uses child labour in its factories, I am not going to do their advertising campaign or assist them with their marketing.
4. They pay you! Ah. Amen. You work hard for them, you expect to be paid - and within the framework that you agreed on beforehand. (Or if they are really having a hard time, for whatever reason, it is up to them to contact you and make some kind of alternative arrangement for your payment.) There seems to be an increasing number of companies which close down - some even purposefully - leaving huge debts while the owners are still living very comfortable lifestyles!
5. You like their business. The previous four points are pretty much necessities in my business book... This point however is about making the world a better place. People make the world go around by being productive. (There would be nothing to eat if someone didn't go out hunting or till the fields!) Ethically run businesses have a positive vibe about them that can make it a pleasure for anyone dealing with them. You feel that you want to help them make their business grow, that you and your business are all part of a chain of people doing something positive. (Yeh, 'squishy' stuff I know.) But it's really great doing business with a company with have 'heart'.