Be a hassle-free zone

Ever walked out of a store, or ended a phone call with a business and thought “Man, what a hassle. Why do they make it so hard for me to give them my money?”

For example, I mostly read the news online but I like an old school Sunday paper. Problem is, I can’t get the Sunday paper delivered locally because the company that publishes it won’t sell Sunday-only subscriptions – not even at a premium.

To be sure, that’s a choice they have the right to make, but… it’s a hassle.

As a result, I either:

1) Stumble out the door in my robe at 6 am, shuffle to the end of the driveway, grab the Sunday paper, walk back inside and park myself in the recliner to enjoy a hot cuppa Joe and read the paper. Except that my house isn’t on a route that gets a paper by 6am, at least not the last time I subscribed. I mean, the paper guy doesn’t beam them to me, so *someone* has to be at 6am and someone else has to be at 6:05am so that really isn’t a complaint. Oh and I have to subscribe to everyday delivery to do that, even though I just want the paper on Sunday.

or

2) Get dressed (which would probably make the neighbors happier), warm up the car, drive to a convenience store, get some change at the register, go outside to the machine to grab a paper, drive home and *then* park myself in the recliner, etc.

As I said, it’s a hassle. So much so that I lose the habit of doing it.

Thought to avoid: I suspect their sales department thinks this situation will somehow encourage me to include “Subscribe seven days a week” as my third choice, but it really doesn’t. Instead, the hassle breaks the habit. I also don’t want to create a big pile of paper to recycle. It’s a hassle.

Picky? Me?

Like many of yours, I can be a picky customer. This isn’t a rant against a newspaper – that would be rather ironic given that a version of this blog is published in a, uh, newspaper. I’m just setting the context so you have an idea what you need to watch out for.

Hassles are what causes great businesses to be started. It’s why Blockbuster started. Ironically enough, hassle is what also killed Blockbuster (because Netflix cured those hassles). Of course, recently Netflix created their own hassles. It’s the circle of life, I guess.

The other day I read a tweet that said “when you focus on the numbers, you forget the customer.”  That’s a little extreme, but if you know the context, it’s right on. Take care of the customer and they’ll take care of you.

What about you?

I’ve mentioned here before that one of my local banks years ago eliminated a long-standing hassle – that deposits made today but after some arbitrary now-irrelevant time (like 3:00 pm) are not credited till the next day. Thatâ??s a change that makes it obvious they understand at least one of the challenges business owners face. Itâ??s a bank you *want* to do business with.

Now you can check the mail, grab the checks and head to the bank at the end of the day, not at mid-afternoon prime work time. That’s how you get rid of a hassle.

If you look around, you may find that you create a few hassles for your customers. Rather than waste a lot of time staring at things – you could just ask them.

“Is it a hassle doing business with us?”, “If it ever a pain to deal with us? When?”, “What’s more trouble than it’s worth when it comes to working with us?” or something like that is all it will take.

Hassles mean lost sales

Before long I’ll have to get the wood stove and snowblower serviced. If the guys who do that work really wanted to remove a hassle, they’d send me a postcard, an email or call me to schedule that work. In the case of the snowblower, maybe even offer to pick it up for an extra $15 or so.

Some customers might not have trailers, or would be happy to borrow one just long enough to run home, grab the machine and bring it back. No worries about getting it there and back = One less hassle. Or maybe two.

How can you make it easier for them to give you their money?

For that matter, how can you make everything easier?