Take care of your best customers

Kent Oswald | July 07, 2020

The temptation to chase every dollar is always there, especially now. But there may be a reason not to do it: It may make your business stronger.


Celebrated teaching pro Peter Burwash often refers to something known as the Pareto Principle. Vilfredo Pareto was a 19th century Italian economist who devised “the 80/20 rule”—80 percent of all outcomes (both good and bad) result from just 20 percent of interactions. 


While in its original form it is more indicative than predictive, the Burwash correlative is that 80 percent of shots should be hit cross-court where the net is 6 inches lower than at the posts and, no matter the temptation, only 20 percent of shots should be aimed at the lower-percentage, down-the-line shot to try and close out the point. 

But to expand on Burwash’s tennis use of the Pareto Principle and apply it to your racquet sports business, consider giving your best service to the 20 percent of your clients who are responsible (through their own purchase or influence) for 80 percent of your profits. That doesn’t mean, of course, that you should neglect the other 80 percent by any means, but make sure you recognize and appreciate where the bulk of your business is coming from.


Conversely, you need to consider cutting loose the 20 percent of your clients who are 80 percent of your headaches. If you can do this, you’ll spend less time with problem customers and high-maintenance clients who provide little for your business. So, you’ll have more time to develop the business of your most profitable customers, while also freeing up time to prospect for even more good customers.


Consider how often these business-hogging folks are in your face, on your phone or clogging your email inbox. But you need to be careful here and give every chance to the difficult client who may be worth the trouble either through their own purchases or as an influencer in your tennis community. 


Take the time to do the analysis and see who is really worth your time. The time you transition from fending off the unprofitably disagreeable to more positive or at least neutral transactions will improve your well-being and profitability. 


Whether you learn it from Pareto, Burwash or your own experience, the lesson on court and off is to play the percentages.

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