How do you handle nightmare customers? A dabbler in woo woo refused point blank to pay rent for 5 months. Here’s how the small business owner was forced to resolve it

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The route to income generation for some people may lie in renting out their properties or units on their properties. A person who may not be able to find a job in this economy and has been lucky enough to inherit property can use it to produce income. Others in their retirement or approaching retirement may want to actively seek out and invest in a property that generates monthly income.

If the property has been acquired at a low enough price and the area can attract high enough rentals, then the opportunity to produce income is more solid. That dubious or non-paying tenants can make your life difficult. That’s where you require stamina to handle evictions.

Take for example someone I know who rents units on his property and is making an attractive income in his retirement years. But his business skills were put to the test when a tenant ran into financial difficulties in this economy and could not pay.

The tenant had involved himself in woo woo stuff such as crystals, journalling and meditation retreats that he was trying to sell to the wrong profile of customers. Let’s face it, you’ve got to have a lot of disposable income to spend money paying for the outrageous fees that the new-age spiritual gurus charge for their services. But this tenant wasn’t practising this dubious business on the side but had made it his full-time occupation.

Slowly the poor man got deeper and deeper into debt. He pleaded with the landlord to let him stay on because money would be coming soon. We’ve all heard that one. After five months, there was still no money and the tenant became belligerent. He read the riot act to the landlord saying that he could not be evicted from the property.

The landlord brought in a specialist team who handled the eviction and within a week the non-paying tenant faced the sober reality that in life nothing is for free. You can’t stay on another person’s property without paying rent. The landlord went through a difficult time, had to deal with heightened stress levels and fork out money for the specialist eviction team and refurbishment of the property unit.

This case offers an important lesson. Though many don’t like to talk about it, you need to be selective about the customers you choose to do business with. Not every potential customer who walks through your door or visits your online site has good intentions. Some are out to get your product or services for free, given half a chance. These are the people that you have to weed out very quickly unless you want to deal with severe problems later. In the case of the landlord hiring out units on his property, he could have done a stringent background check before being sucked in with the charm and pizzazz of the tenant. A committed customer will also pay the full price upfront or at very least a 50% deposit.

Repelling potential customers who will in the long run do more harm than good is a strategy for a small business who can’t afford losses that may put them out of business. New ideas, new approaches and new systems are required in today’s marketplace where freebie seekers, con artists and charlatans abound, waiting to find the loophole in your business.

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