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Deb Neuman Deb Neuman
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Breaking up is hard to do

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It was a late night when they checked in - a husband and wife who had booked two weeks at my inn in Bar Harbor. I knew within five minutes of their arrival that this was not going to go well. They expected service valet, restaurant, bar, pool that my property did not offer. I knew there would be no way they would enjoy their stay with me and that we would both be miserable, so I sat them down for 'the talk.' I kindly suggested they would be better off with someone else and offered to find them a room at one of the more 'resort-like' properties on the island. They agreed. I made the break up easy by returning their room deposit and making all the arrangements for them. It was the best decision for both of us.

The downside of this break up was that I found myself with a vacancy at the height of the season and I risked that they would be unhappy with me and tell others (we know how important 'word of mouth' is to business). Fortunately, those worries were unwarranted. I rented their now vacant room quickly and learned a month later that this couple wrote a letter the Bar Harbor Chamber praising me for the exceptional customer service I gave them. They had a fabulous visit to Bar Harbor and planned to return.

Breaking up with a customer is hard to do, but it's often for the best when you realize that the relationship is not going to work out well for either - or both - of you. Too often we try to be everything to everyone, or we fear that if we lose a customer we will jeopardize our business. But there are times when a break up is the best way to go. The number one reason to break up with a customer is when you're not able to meet their expectations or they're not meeting yours. When this occurs it's best to clearly explain what you can and can't offer and suggest other solutions.

The other good reason for a break up is when the customer is demanding too much of your time and it's having a negative impact on your business. Consider the return on investment and whether this relationship is harming your relationship with other customers. If a customer is creating stress and havoc within your business, let them go. In my case I knew this gentleman would likely create a stressful environment at my inn that would negatively impact the experience for my other guests not to mention stress me and my staff out for two weeks!

Breaking up is hard to do. Similar to our personal relationships, it starts with knowing yourself and your business; knowing what it is you can and can't offer, what you want out of the relationship and what is in the best interest of the other person. The bottom line for me in this situation was that I wanted this couple who had never visited Maine before to have a wonderful experience so they would return and tell others to come here. I knew I wasn't the right person to provide them with their dream vacation, so I sent them off to someone who could. As is true with many break-ups, it all worked out for the best, and we all lived happily ever after.

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