Yes, I did...and it feels so good!!!!
Now, let me explain...just so you don't think I'm completely crazy.
This morning, I met with a customer from Chappaqua NY 10514, my home town. Turns out we both went to the same high school (Horace Greeley) but 4 yrs apart, so we never met. She seemed nice, and we definitely hit off. She had a LOT of damage from Hurricane Irene and is well over the limit her insurance will pay and she has been coming out of pocket for a bunch of items and is trying to do everything as inexpensively as possible.
Because of all of this, she can't afford to recarpet the basement - at least not for now. Instead, she will just paint it. She simply wants to replace the carpet on the steps, so it's a tiny job. She was up front with me about that before I came, and I appreciated that. She also told me she wanted to go cheap, so I respected that and showed her some inexpensive commercial carpets that would meet her needs.
After I gave her the estimate, I learned that my competition had been there...the one that I've written about before that has those annoying TV ads w/ the cartoon character. Usually, my estimates on hard surface are significantly lower than theirs and my carpet prices are about equal (but I'm showing a higher grade at the same price as their lower grade and still the same price). But, this time, because it was very small job, my # was coming in higher than theirs...because it is small and because of an oddity in the carpet pad price.
This was a SMALL job...honestly, not really worth my time. The estimate she had from them was $500. At that price, I'd barely be making any $...and when I factored in the time I'd have to pay my assistant to order and my project manager to supervise, I'd be break even...not even factoring in all the time and paperwork I have to do. i gave her a higher price and I explained why I was higher due to the oddity and she appreciated that. She wanted to go w/ me, but didn't want to pay the extra money, given her current circumstances (normally, she said she wouldn't hesitate).
But, she also did not want to go with that annoying place from TV. She said the sales guy was sleezy and he was unprofessional and didn't take the time I did to find the right carpet. I know she wanted to go w/ me but couldn't...I was a goner...but I also knew she didtn't want to go with them. I could tell she felt between a rock and a hard place. I knew I already lost the deal because at this point in time, all she cared about was price.
Now, I don't mind losing a $500 deal. We are so busy, the $500 job is more of a distraction for me than anything else.
And, I really don't like that annoying place on TV because:
1. They do a bad job...I've heard a ton of nightmare stories and there are tons of complaints and they give the rest of us a bad name.
2. They are overpriced for what they sell. Normally, I come in less than they do...and to think they advertise as being "the lowest cost" HA! They should be sued for false advetising, but I digress.
So, knowing I already lost this deal, and knowing I didn't want those guys to get it, and knowing I have a nice customer, HERE'S WHAT I DID INSTEAD.
I GAVE HER TO SOMEONE ELSE!
There is a another carpet store in my county, and technically, I guess they are my "competition." But, I try to look at them more like a "friend." Afterall, there is so much competition out, pairing up w/ someone else can provide a "win-win" for both parties. Now, I buy most of my products direct from The manufacturer. There are about 100 of us across the US and Canada, so we are a buying group and get great prices. But, there are TONS of carpet manufacturers and I can't afford to buy samples from all of them (nor would I ever have enough room). So, for some of my high end carpets (which applies to maybe 5% or less of my customers), I now buy from the local carpet store. They only mark it up 10%, so first they can make some money and second, I can afford to sell it to my customer (I net it out to my customer so they are paying the same amount). This enables me to sell some more higher end carpet more easily and affordably and allows me to win jobs where they need combo of high end carpet and hardwood. So, they've been helping me.
So, I sent my customer to them instead. Because of the way there are structured, and they buy this specialized carpet pad in bulk, I knew they could do it for the price my customer needed (I gave them the measurements and handed it to them on a silver paltter). I could make my customer happy, my partner happy (i.e. my "competition") and I could prevent my annoying/unethical competition from getting the job.
Now, that felt GOOD!
(Oh, and my lost customer couldn't believe the customer service she got, so who knows...maybe she'll call me in a few yrs when it's time for her next job).