Banter Nightmare customers War stories

Ever walked off a job mid-way through?

The time a customer went nuts & we walked.

I remember a few times I was close, real close to losing it. The question is; should we lose our rags and just walk out of a job? Or even going a step further and telling a customer where to go!

When I look back to those days, I was young and had limited people experience.

I’d often find myself quite defensive if I felt anyone using any sort of ‘tone’ with me or if they were over demanding…..

Of course, most customers are alright and I used to bend over backwards to do a good job the majority of the time, as I’m sure all of you reading this do too.

But…. There are those customers who push you to the edge… 

One particular time in Barnet North London stands out

I remember me and my mate installing a heating system for a guy, his wife was heavily pregnant, it was freezing cold out and he had no heating.

The dispute: He wanted us to run the pipes a really awkward route, which caused tension on the job when we told him it would be extra.

Fuel to the fire: We nipped out for a sandwich and some water from an old dormant pipe had leaked through the downstairs.

When we walked back in the house he started shouting at the top of his voice.

At that point, we just said; “listen, we’re done here, mate.”

That riled him up even more, he forced us out of the house, with our tools locked inside. 

Being around 21 years old (13 years ago now) and we’d just gone self-employed, we wanted our tools back and looking back we could have handled it better by being more understanding to his situation.

My mate in an instant jumped over the fence, ran back into the ‘war zone’ through the back door and got our tools.

We ended up having to call the police to calm it down. What a day!

The key is to avoid being in situations which could lead to you a.) wanting to walk off a job. b.) losing it completely and telling someone where to go.

Communication and planning is the secret sauce.

Yep, that sounds like the sort of thing someone very mature and annoying might say, however when tensions fray, threats are made, money is on the line, you’ll wish you got this right.


Let’s break it down below. 

Quoting – job run down

You and your customer would have agreed on what you’re doing and for how much.

In trades, we love having a quick friendly chat agreeing on a price and leaving, then the customer calling up or texting us a few days later, saying yep, let’s go for it!

We then go there and crack on with nothing on paper and expect to be paid at the end.

Let me just tell you, that’s a really good way to come unstuck.

You need to quote properly and run the customer through the quote, then get the customer to agree by signing or replying to an email or text at the very least.

This also applies if you work for a company.

Be sure to get your customer to ask any questions they’re unsure of before you start and keep them in the loop the whole way through the job.

Always be clear on price, timelines and be as specific as possible in every area.

I literally can’t emphasise this enough, laying out a really clear quote and running through it, is the best thing you can do to avoid trouble. I used to use some software called Quotient. I’ll discuss that in another post.

Once a customer has signed a quote and you have done what it says to the letter, there is a dispute and you can take them to court if they don’t pay it.

Problems on jobs

Let us be honest, this happens, a hole drilled in the wrong place, something not straight, etc, etc.

Don’t ignore it and don’t let the customer spot it before you tell them. Just say; “hey, this has been a bit more complicated than normal, I can see this isn’t quite where we want it, leave it with me, I got it!”

If you leave it, the customer will think there are more problems lurking and they’ll lose trust in you.

Collecting payment/Finishing the job

Always tell the customer at the start of the job or whilst quoting, when and how you want to be paid and ask; is that OK? There’s a lot of psychology in getting people to say: ‘YES‘ and getting that YES is an important one for everyone, as often customers are anxious to know how and when you want to be paid and calling it out at the start reduces tensions for everyone.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and even if you’ve been in a similar situation!

Getting more work

Never compete on price to win work

Question: are you sick of quoting jobs and then getting ghosted?

A few years ago I went on a sales training course learning how to sell our services to customers.

That course took my company to the next level. I’ll share below, some of the concepts I learned. 

There’s a reason why companies like British Gas and Help link can charge 3X the price of Joe Bloggs.

You’ll see where I’m going with this soon enough…

GBK  Mcdonalds 
Price for meal £12.99 Price for meal £4.39


What is the difference between the Gourmet burger kitchen and Mcdonalds when you look at them both objectively?

They both satisfy hunger, they both taste good, let’s agree on that.

Why do people pay 3 times as much for GBK?

Let’s write a list of why most people are happy to pay so much more.

    • GBK is trendier.
    • The food is better presented.
    • GBK has a nicer place to sit.

I’ve only listed 3 things, do you see how all 3 things relate to a perception of quality, not actual quality in the product delivered, in this case, a burger and chips.

How does this translate to winning a job like a re-wire, an extension or boiler change?

You need to show the customer you’re not just going to do the ‘job’ as it were like Mcdonalds just does the job if you’re hungry.

Walking into a job in your work clothes on the way home, then quickly measuring up and texting 2 days later with a price is an example of ‘just doing the job. 

So how do we as tradesman or trades business owners, show perceived value like GBK does over Mcdonalds, or British Gas does over Bill’s boilers.

There are 7 rules, or concepts to follow, if you follow these rules you will win nearly every job you price.

  1. Be credible – means, branded uniform, carry a clipboard, wear an ID badge.
  2. Be likeable – make friends with the customer, drink a tea with them, let them though you’ll go the extra mile.
  3. Reciprocation – give the customer something for free, usually, that’s advice in trades, it could be quickly fixing a tap etc. I can’t put a percentage on how much this will increase the chance of you winning the job.
  4. Social proof – Show the customer real reviews.
  5. Consistency is king – This is a bit of Jedi persuasion tactic, but get the customer to agree with you on a small thing, small yeses lead to big yeses.
  6. Scarcity – You’re very busy, if they don’t book buy this week or give you a small holding deposit, you can’t do the job.
  7. Trust – You need to offer some sort of tangible guarantee.

Your to-do list before pricing your next job

  1. Get branded, smart uniform.
  2. Get a decent website.
  3. Get an ID badge.
  4. Get shoe covers
  5. Get a logo designed, you can do this on Fiverr. it’s $5!
  6. Improve your quotes!
  7. Get a designer on Fiverr to create you some guarantee forms.
  8. Have access to all your reviews, put them in a folder, or on an Ipad, go through them on every job. If you don’t have reviews, get them, now!


The above is just an outline, if really want to understand how to win more work and get paid more for it, you need to read our guide.

To summarise this post: Never compete on price, most people aren’t looking for the cheapest, even if that’s what they tell you. People are looking for value, it’s your job to build value when you price.

I hope this post has given you an insight into winning work and you realise there is big money to be had, you just need to position yourself the right way.

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