Wallet wars: why clients won’t spend with you

Business growth

Inspiring clients to slap their wallets shut would be the definition of insanity, but sadly, businesses do this every single day. 

Even mine. 

In my restaurant I hired a floor manager who was pure sweetness when I was around, but downright rude when I wasn’t. After a few months I received feedback from loyal customers about her attitude, and dealt with the situation accordingly. I’m just grateful those clients came directly to me.

In my years of consulting I have seen how business owners spend enormous amounts of time, money and energy trying to get new clients. They look for clues and insights everywhere by attending seminars, employing consultants, reading books and so on. Despite this, clients can flee.

Why these wallets snapped shut:

  • My favourite Thai restaurant dropped the ball badly when they didn’t deliver any of the drinks or extras we ordered. The response was a lame apology, and that too, only after we prompted them. I’d taken more than ten people there in the last few years but won’t go there again. Loss $400/year.
  • When looking for a local hotel seminar room to run a series of five events per year for the next few years, the receptionist sent me on a wild goose chase to track down the external company in charge of bookings. Then, when I dropped in to look at the room I wanted to hire, she told me I had to book in for a ‘viewing’, even though the room was just three metres away. It all became too hard. Loss: $3000 per year

Wallet welcoming tips

This is an issue of culture, engagement and training, and can be overcome by implementing some good business systems. As a microbusiness owner, your small team of staff need to care about how your business performs. Consider trying the following:

Do some mystery shopping or send out customer surveys on a regular basis

  • Teach your team about the importance of sales and how to grow them
  • Give regular feedback to your staff
  • Celebrate wins and praise staff publicly
  • Empower your team to identify and seize opportunities
  • Educate your team about how all areas of your business works, not just their own role.

As a business owner you are rarely the person driving away business, but you are the one who must take responsibility for it. Hopefully these tips will help you welcome wallet-ready clients.


Warren Harmer

Owner at The Business Plan Company

Small, fast growing and entrepreneurial businesses are my passion. I like to write business plans for them, grow them, advise them and write about them. My experience now spans over 17 years, including 3 businesses of my own. My objective is to offer instructive, hands-on, ‘how to’ information to make business ownership easier, less stressful, more successful and more enjoyable.

The Business Plan Company

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Brian Mallyon

Brian Mallyon , Owner at Luckypole Limited

Nice article Warren, thankyou. A couple of comments. I agree that companies spent so much time chasing new clients/prospects that they often forget about those existing ones. The ones who they no longer need to go and chase, if they are doing the right thing to retain them. In relation to your example of booking the room for your seminar though, I am not sure I agree entirely with your view. Certainly, it seems the service was not up to standard, but as it relates to viewing the room, I think there is a degree of rudeness in lobbing up unannounced in some circumstances. I think most people outside general retail expect sort of appointment beforehand. A couple of reasons:- 1. Perhaps the booking company should have been the one to instigate the viewing as that is who was arranging the booking and therefore should have known of your requirements 2. A quick phone call to organize a viewing could have meant a time saving for you in not having to chase around locations and this one may have been a better option in the long run 3. The hotel receptionist could have been preparing to attend to a client who had phoned earlier and was worth $10,000 pa to the hotel. In my mind, one of the major problems in business is a lack of clear communication. In this example it seems that there was a lack of communication from both sides.

Wendy Huang

Wendy Huang , Full Time Blogger and YouTuber at A Custom Blog in 4 Minutes

Wow that story about not showing you the room is hilarious. I love it how these things don't seem logical.