Saturday is soccer day. Actually, most days are soccer days but my boys have games on Saturdays. Rain, sleet, wind or otherwise, you will find the guys decked out in their gear and running around the field while the brave and committed parents huddle up with their coffees and pretend they'd rather be somewhere else.
This past soccer day, game one of two was almost over when the phone rang. The conversation went more or less as follows:
"Hi Steve? This is Abigail." (Her name isn't Abigail.) "Remember, we met a few weeks ago? You gave us that quote and information for our place on Main Street." (Abigail doesn't live on Main Street.)
"Hi Abigail. I'm glad you called. Are we moving forward with the project?"
"We are doing some of the work ourselves. My husband doesn't think we need a carpenter." (Abigail DOES need a 'carpenter'. And a plumber, and an electrician...)
"Well I'm sorry we won't be working together but I appreciate you getting back to me."
"I actually called for a favor. Can we borrow a saw this weekend? If you need them that's OK."
I won't go into the details of the rest of the conversation. It ended with me politely explaining that I was spending my Saturday with family, declining to lend out our company-owned power tools and offering to send her some assistance at an hourly rate (which she also politely declined.)
What makes this story a little more sad than funny is the reaction I received when relaying it to a few friends and others in the industry. Each of them had similar experiences. In one particular case, a gentleman was absolutely irate that he couldn't use his contractor's specialty equipment. He cited 'terrible customer service' and promised to lodge a complaint.
I am a firm believer that the current popularity of the "fire your client" movement is short sighted and potentially very damaging. Having said that, the respect needs to go both ways. If an accountant asks to borrow your truck is it reasonable to ask him or her to borrow a computer?
[EDIT] Since posting this story, Abigail has been in contact with an apology and a request to have us manage her next project. "Fire your client" should always be a last resort folks!