The Lifetime Value of a Customer

Sign Up For Weekly Tips! Get Trevor’s Weekly Tips Straight To Your Inbox!

This morning I received two gifts.  I’m on vacation with my family, and I’ve been thinking, “what should I write for my weekly tip?”  And this morning my tip fell into my lap.

We vacation at the same lake/campground and have done so for 10 years.  The owners of the resort have a reputation for being… difficult.  This includes but is not limited to: yelling at kids, bawling people out for various infractions, and generally being too pushy, and not very nice.

So today, I went to pick up the pontoon boat that we rented from the resort for our party of 12.  I got down to the dock, only to discover that they had reserved a ski boat for us by mistake.  It was too bad, as we had kids with us, and it wasn’t nearly big enough for our group.

Oddly, when I pointed out the mistake to the employee at the dock, he handed me his walkie-talkie and made himself scarce.  Apparently he had seen this movie before.  The owner came on.  I explained the situation, and he blurted out, “Then get a refund, there’s other people that want it.”  A bit blunt, but that’s his right, so I conferred with the group, and we agreed to take the refund and use the boat another day.

When I walked to the main store, he was waiting for me.  And he was not happy.  He bullied, he threatened, and finally he told me that had no interest in renting to me again as I couldn’t be trusted and was wasting his time and money.  I calmly pointed out that I had rented this boat for 2-3 times/summer for the past 10 years.  And, I regularly use his golf course and store and restaurant, and that perhaps this was a misunderstanding that both parties contributed to.

He would have none of it, insisted that it was all my fault, and refunded my money with a lot of ill will.  Before we left, he also had some choice words for my 15-year-old who stood beside me, saying nothing.

I felt mad of course, but as I reflected on it, my anger turned to pity for him, because I immediately recognized in this harried owner, a fellow sufferer of a common complaint among stressed, dominant, high-achieving people.  It’s called “A**hole Disease.”  I know this, because I am a fellow sufferer, although my case has been mostly in remission for a few years now.  Some of my clients have this disease too (you know who you are!).

We all get into these situations with customers.  We feel upset by them, and by the situation.  But before you fully give vent to your disease in your next customer interaction, consider the long-term value of a customer, so that you know clearly who you’re turning away (because some customers are worth firing):

Here’s my case in rough numbers over the 10 years I’ve vacationed at this property:

25 boat rentals @ $400 = $10,000

20 rounds of golf @ $45 = $900

20 restaurant meals for the family = $3000

Regular store purchases = $1000 (?)

Cabin rental = Many thousands of dollars to the cabin owner

So, although I look like a $400 problem, I actually represent tens of thousands of dollars of past and potential future revenue.  Or maybe not future revenue; that depends on how I’m treated.  He might have made a choice more in his interest if he imagined a bubble with ‘$60,000’ on top of my head as he dealt with me.

And so might you next time you have to deal with a customer ‘situation.’

I got my second gift while I drove back to the cabin with my 15-year-old after our encounter.  I congratulated him for not showing disrespect to his attacker.  He sat quietly for a bit, and then said, “real men don’t have tantrums and flip out.”  My heart swelled with pride.  This.  This is what vacations are for.

Recommended Resources:

Uncover your strengths and weaknesses with our complimentary assessment. Boost your effectiveness at work and with your team.

Free Resource Library: Access our extensive collection of valuable resources for instant support in your personal and professional growth.

Explore Our Course Library:

Enhance your leadership skills with our diverse selection of courses. Take your abilities to the next level and become a more effective leader and team player.
Written by Trevor Throness
Trevor is a veteran coach, keynote speaker, and the author of the book “The Power of People Skills” released by Career Press NY in 2017. He’s also written for or been featured in places like Forbes, Inc, The NY Post, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, CEO Magazine, and numerous podcasts and interviews.


Our Clients Love the Professional Leadership Institute

Your team will, too! Check out some reviews from our students.
The PLI program was invaluable to our network.
The range of topics delivered, the open dialogue, experience, and examples that PLI brought to each session were outstanding and provided a path for our Franchisees and Managers to look at leadership, coaching, and connecting with their teams in a new light. Many have implemented these strategies in their bakeries and have seen immediate results.
Michelle C.
COBS Bread
Highly recommend to help your team move forward
We have locations around BC and Alberta, so getting people on the same page can be very difficult... Until now. Our entire management team and location managers take the same great courses and then meet monthly online with our coach to apply it to our situation. People are engaged, the courses are excellent, we love our coach, and we are all learning together!
Jason Fawcett
President, Kelson Group
The result has been a transformation of our culture. 
We decided to implement PLI's strategies across the country in over 150 locations and over 3500 employees.  The result has been a transformation of our culture.  People's lives have been positively impacted - professionally and personally.  Morale is high and sales and profits are up as a result.
Daryl Verbeek
Daryl Verbeek
We’ve learned how to fix ongoing personnel issues once and for all
The roadmap laid out set our business up to quintuple in sales.  We've learned how to fix ongoing personnel issues once and for all, attract top talent, and spend our time focused on results, not internal staffing problems.  I highly recommend PLI to you - it's worked for us!
John DeJong
Satisfied Client
I had no idea that running a business could be this fun!
In less than 18 months of working with Trevor, he has transformed my business from being average to exceptional, where mediocrity is not acceptable, where being great is standard.  Working with PLI has allowed me to realize my dream of not simply owning a job, but owning a business.
Justin Bontkes
Principal, Caliber Projects
Our culture has taken major steps forward this year
Our culture has taken major steps forward this year with Trevor’s help.  He is funny, relatable, and his tools are very very practical and have helped us focus and upgrade our teams throughout our retail network. Trevor recently spoke to an employee group, and one person remarked, “I could listen to Trevor all day.”   We would highly recommend Trevor.
Stan Pridham
Founder, KMS Tools
The results have been remarkable
At first, we resisted, “This just won’t work with a law firm.” But we persisted and the results have been remarkable: our client base and profits have steadily improved, and staff engagement and morale is the healthiest its ever been.
Doug Lester
Partner, RDM Lawyers
Helped our fast-growing business become what it is today
I've experienced PLI's approach first hand and it's been crucial to sustaining our growth.  I can't imagine a business that wouldn't benefit greatly from his help.
Brian Antenbring
Founder, TEEMA
Provided practical ways to make positive changes
Trevor was incredibly well-received by the entire organization. He was able to articulate people issues that many of our franchisees were experiencing and provided them with practical ways to make positive changes. We have implemented the Star Chart tool across the organization and see it as vital to building happy, effective teams.
Aaron Gillespie
President, COBS Bread
Scroll to Top

Start Learning Today

For Individuals

Unlock your potential and accelerate your career with sought-after management and leadership skills.


Transform Your Organization

For Teams

Book a consultation to discuss your challenges and discover how we can help you build a winning team.


Sign Up For Weekly Tips!

Get Weekly Coaching Tips Straight To Your Inbox Every Monday.