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Woulda Coulda Shoulda

I’m So Glad I Fired You as a Customer

A sign pro thanks himself for shedding a client who wasn’t worth the trouble, plus 6 more encounters with nerve-testing customers.




Things you wanted to say to frustrating clients, but didn’t.

Sign pros, like anyone who works in a public-facing job, have to bite their tongue frequently. When a customer is being a pain, the first response that comes to mind is not always one that should be said aloud.

That’s why we have a “Woulda Coulda Shoulda” department, which collects the quips you know better than to share with those nerve-testing clients. Here’s a recent sampling of those one-liners that sign pros would’ve liked to say, but didn’t.

“I’m so glad I fired you as a customer.”

To the customer who told me, in one sentence, “You are a liar and a horrible business person,” then in the next sentence said, “I really like you as a person.” I’d also add, “We’ve tripled in revenue since I saw you last.”

“It’s removable not reusable.”

To the customer who wanted to take the brand new wrap off his personal pickup and use it on his work truck.

Epic rant edition: “To the customer…”

TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT. Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an absolute miracle on our part. We are not a bank. Too expensive? Compared to what? When was the last time you bought something custom — after you hired a design person to create it in the first place? When was the last time you filed and managed a permit all the way through? Oh, you have never done that? Or you have — and would never do it again? How about I bring my family to your restaurant, Mr. Customer, have dinner and then send you a check in 30 to 90 days … maybe. Ready to take my order?

“Well, you still haven’t been able to fabricate that piece of paper.”

To the customer who asked me, “You can’t get it done in less than four weeks?” after I had sent him the deposit invoice and he hadn’t gotten his part done — sending the check — in more than six weeks.

“If I were out of them, they would only be $15 each.”

To the customer who was looking for 120-in. fluorescent bulbs. I told him they were $30.60 each. He said the price at another supplier was only $22 each. I asked why he wasn’t buying them from the other supplier. He said the other supplier was out of them. P.S. He bought them.

“Thank you …”

[… but oozing with sarcasm.] To the customer for taking my photo rendering and sign drawing, and giving them out to several of my competitors to price.

“Did you read our sign?”

To customers who regularly walk in and ask if we make signs. Our company has “Sign” in the name.

Woulda Coulda Shouldas are collected from the Signs of the Times Brain Squad and shared anonymously.

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a signage and graphics company in the US or Canada, you’re invited to join the Signs of the Times Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute survey each month, you will receive access to some of the industry’s freshest data on sales — including your fellow members’ comments on what’s selling and what isn’t — and can make your voice heard on key issues affecting the sign industry. Sound good? Sign up here.


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