Corporate attorney and prolific author Sutton (Finance Your Own Business, 2016, etc.) discusses how to identify, sidestep, and untangle oneself from problem customers in his latest entrepreneurism manual.
The customer isn’t always right, says Sutton; in fact, he says, he or she might be a freeloader, a “feegoader” who “will use every angle to goad, or pressure you to reduce your fee,” or even mentally ill. Such “toxic” folks are everywhere, he says, and they particularly prey on business newcomers who are unwilling to turn away customers—but should. After that warning, Sutton goes on to shares his own stories (as a young lawyer, he had to defend a client who never paid his bills) and case study examples of difficult or downright disastrous customer relationships. He then offers tips on how to spot and evade bad apple clients, such as listening for clues and trusting one’s instincts on first meetings, and performing due diligence, including credit checks. He provides tactics for shaking off those who seem like trouble, such as by having clear, upfront policies on details such as retainers and return fees; by claiming an “imaginary partner” that one must consult before entering into agreements; or by saying that one is bound to a non-compete clause. The author concludes with three appendices that detail key avenues of recourse when one does get ensnared, including liens, small claims court, and collection agencies. Sutton’s book is an engrossing venting session with anecdotes that will be entertaining and relatable, especially to anyone who’s ever worked in restaurants or construction. They reinforce the idea that one shouldn’t be too nice—and, in fact, one should be wary—when dealing with people in one’s business. He also cites an array of sobering statistics to support this view, including that nearly 20 percent of American adults have a mental disorder, and that it can cost $50,000 to recoup $10,000 in unpaid fees. The book only skims the surface of legal advice that one might need for actual lawsuits, but it still offers a good kick-start to safeguard oneself against such prospects.
An engaging, empowering business protection guide.