Shop Savvy December 2021

One Little Word: Learn to Say No to Help Improve Your Business

By Paul Bieber

No. This one little word will improve your business bottom line, and make
your days more manageable. More often than not, you’ll go home happier with your workday, too.

The other day I received a phone call from a potential client asking me to do
something for his business that I had no idea how to do. I said “No, thank you.” I felt better turning down this business than I would have taking on something in which I have no expertise.

No, Thank You

You are in our glass industry. You know how busy we all are. You know that certain glass types are hard to get, either domestic or imported, and you certainly know that hiring people is turning into a national joke. So, when that new customer calls and wants you to take over a job where they kicked another glazier off, you may want to say “No, thank you.” When the homeowner walks in the week before Christmas and wants a new shower installed in three days, just say, “No, thank you.”

A customer wants a job done next summer but wants to lock in a price now. With our unpredictable inflation, all you can say is “No, thank you,” unless there’s a valid price adjustment in your standard contract and you’ve told your customer that the price for next summer will be higher, though you can’t say by how much yet.

Keep it Positive

You can say no, sandwiched between two positive comments. An employee asks for some extra time off to take advantage of a special vacation offer. Tell him that he is a great employee and you would love to say yes, but can’t because another employee is already scheduled to be off the same week. You can’t be down two people and make the commitments you have on the books. Make an honest effort here by asking the other employee if they would be willing to change their date. If they can, you have two happy employees. If not, the asking employee knows you really tried to help. When
you do say no, be sure to explain why you had to make this decision.

Know Your Limits

In running your business, you should have some established boundaries, such as how far you will travel, the minimum and maximum size of jobs you take on and the amount of credit you are willing and able to extend. Be sure that your employees know these variables so your phone receptionist doesn’t book you for jobs too far away. When a new customer calls and wants you to do a job that’s two hours away, explain you would love to help, but the travel time doesn’t work in your current schedule. Explain how busy you are right now and you couldn’t give your trademark quality service. On the other hand, when a long-term customer calls for a job that’s two hours out, go ahead and take it. You don’t want a competitor working with a favored client.

When a customer asks to do something outside of your normal boundaries, ask for a day to give an answer. Write down the facts and talk with your partner, glazing director or shop manager. Give them the pluses and minuses and get their opinions. Use your gut instinct along with your team’s input. More often than not, you’re going to pass on this job now, where a year ago you would have been happy to take it.

Saying no is part of your daily business. Saying it in a positive way and asking the customer to try you again will bring in more business down the road.

Paul Bieber has more than 40 years’ experience in the glass industry, with C.R. Laurence and as executive vice president of Floral Glass in New York. He is now the principal of Bieber Consulting Group LLC and can be reached at Read his blog on Tuesdays at

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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