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Ask Timpo: Our large clients are bullying us

1 Mins

A: If you continually allow your customers to bully you down on price and squeeze your credit terms, they will eventually drive you out of business. You must stand up to these tough guy tactics and say “no”.

Have you worked out what will happen if the account is closed? There is no point in working for no margin – you may even find that without this greedy customer, you can make more money.

Certainly, if you are almost down to break even it is time to talk about ceasing to supply. 

You don’t have to sell to this guy, so call his bluff and threaten to end the relationship if the old contract terms are not restored.

Be brave, it is time for you to stand up for yourself. There is no way of being particularly nice about it, simply pick up the phone and issue an ultimatum. You can’t lose: either you get a bigger margin or you lose a loss making customer.

It isn’t just the big buyers who can dictate terms – small suppliers have a much better bargaining position than many of them realise. It is time to make a stand before this customer drives you out of business.

John Timpson runs high-street cobbler Timpson, which has 800 branches nationwide and sales of £150m. Got a question for him? Post it in the comments box below or email dearjohn@realbusiness.co.uk

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