dreamstime_xs_32297115 Relying on large customers is tempting but dangerous. When they leave, large customers create big voids. LARGE CUSTOMERS:

  1. Increase sales.
  2. Dictate policy and make big demands.
  3. Provide low margins.
  4. Create dependency.
  5. Take all the companies resources.
  6. Pay slowly.

Companies need both large and small customers to grow their businesses and protect from economic downturns.  But, in economic downturns, smaller customers will stay and a larger customer will leave for a better deal. PERSONAL EXPERIENCE ONE: In our family business we made shoes for the volume shoe market. Our company had 4 large customers representing 65% sales. The other 35% were wholesalers and small chain stores. Our business was seasonal and production was limited. In good times, large customers push for more production. The only way we could accomplish this was to not service small customers. Our policy was to service both the small and large customers. When the economy turned down or they could buy at a lower price, large customers would leave for a better deal. Smaller customers were always there. We had a mutual need. Small customers depended on us and we depended on them during good times and bad. PERSONAL EXPERIENCE TWO: In 1982, I bought a business in the Dominican Republic, which was on the verge of going out of business. All that was left was a management team, factory, and machinery. The owner of the business was a pocketbook manufacturer who decided to become a shoe manufacturer. He had only one large customer in the pocketbook business. He assumed this was the way all businesses were run. He found a large shoe manufacturer who needed his services. Everything went well for the first 6 months and then problems started. The orders were reduced, unwarranted credits were taken, payments were delayed and finally the customer left for a better deal.  The factory closed. LESSONS LEARNED:

  1. Diversify your customer base.
  2. Service all customers equally.
  3. Smaller customers need you.
  4. Have a balance of large and small customers.
  5. Have contingency plans if large customers leave.
  6. Never assume that different businesses operate the same.
  7. Listen to your customers and make your customers your partners.

FAVORITE LESSON:  #7 Listen to your customers and make you customers your partners. If you listen to your customers, problems are prevented. Read my post explaining the concept: #1 Secret to Increasing Profits with Existing Customers What are the dangers of large customers? What are the advantages of small customers? Have you ever had to choose between a large customer and smaller customers? What did you do? What happened?

P.S. – Do you need an Outside Director, Advisory Board Member, Trusted Advisor,  or Interim CEO?  Someone who can help you see your business and your goals through “Fresh Eyes.”  Contact me and I will work with you to look at where you want to go and help you find the best way to get there.  Sometimes all it takes is someone with a fresh viewpoint, unencumbered by company politics or culture to help find the right solution.

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Larry Putterman
Board Director | Advisory Board Member

Avoid painful lessons learned. Let me help solve your business problems. A fresh set of eyes can show you a different set of possibilities. Use my experience to save time and money. I have been there and done that. What makes me highly effective is my fresh viewpoint, unencumbered by company politics or culture.


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