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Why Your Clients Hate Fine Print and Surprises

You may prove to customers you are right, but still lose their business.

Fine Print
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My son Will and I just wrapped up a badass father-son trip up the East Coast. Last stop, New York City! We began our journey in Washington, D.C., then Baltimore, on to Philadelphia, and finally the Big Apple. It’s been a great bonding experience, and I’m sure it will prove a time that will be looked back on fondly in the years to come. Spending one-to-one time with my kids always reminds me that whatever I do — not what I say — is the lesson they’ll take away. Last week gave us a few good examples of making hard vs. easy choices. The case of Clifford vs. Crunch Fitness at 5:00 AM last Thursday was one such instance…

While the boys trip may sound like a complete vacation, my Ironman training is still very much NOT on vacation. To that end, I knew the hotel we booked was undergoing renovations and their fitness center was closed. I needed access to a stationary bike. The concierge at the hotel looked around and found a Crunch Fitness nearby. Better yet, he sent me a link offering a free day pass. Winning!

Also by Henry Clifford: How Do I Staff My Sales Team?

I filled out the Crunch Fitness web form and snagged the pass. My alarm sounded early and I set off, water bottle in hand, to sweat it out. I arrived at the gym and showed the pass to the front desk attendant. She asked me if I was in town for the day and where I lived. I answered back that I was visiting and the hotel concierge had referred me. She then proceeded to explain, in a way that seemed like she did this a lot, that the free pass was for residents only and I would have to pay $36 to atone for my sin of not being a New Yorker. I asked if she would make an exception. She said her manager came in later and wouldn’t like that. I shelled out the $36 and headed upstairs for a session on the bike. I left the gym feeling deceived. I hate that feeling.

I’ve since emailed Crunch Fitness management and asked them to refund my money. The whole situation made me think about my own business and our fine print. We have a “No Surprises” document on our website that attempts to address many of the common questions we’ve seen over the years. If we ever find ourselves going back to the fine print with our customers, we’ve lost. We can point out the fine print and explain how we’re right and they’ll pay — once. That will generally be the last time we’ll ever do business. Because so much of our industry is relationship-based, we don’t engage in transactional behavior due to its self-defeating repercussions. Why don’t other businesses realize this? They’ll win a $10 battle and lose thousands in potential revenue in the name of being “right” in the moment. Thanks to Dr. Phil, we all know that “right” and “happy” are mutually exclusive. Pick one.

Also by Henry Clifford: What to Say When Asked, “Is This Your Best Price?”

Do you have a “No Surprises” policy in your business or do you find yourself going back to the fine print with clients in the name of being “right”?

Stay frosty, and see you in the field.