I know it feels a bit of a strange thing to say, but dumping some of your clients may be the best way of growing your business. It feels weird, because our natural inclination is to hang on to these people through thick and thin, and certainly for as long as possible! But what about when:
They take up too much of your time: People that need you to call to talk through every detail, people that need you to talk through every invoice, people that need you to ‘pop in’ to pick up a signature. All reasonable requests from good clients, but there is a limit. Its a simple calculation. Add up all the time you spend on the account and divide by the average amount of time for your average client. Multiply by your average order value. If the demanding clients isn’t spending a significant amount more than you could be getting – its time to bin them!
They don’t listen: You explain what the situation is. You explain the terms of the deal, in excruciating detail. You explain what you’ve done for them, what you
continue to do. You tell them how you have championed their cause to the detriment of your own, and maybe that of your company too. And they don’t listen. or worse, they don’t believe you. Get rid!
They are just plain rude: We are all busy people, and sometimes we can be short, and sometimes abrupt for the sake of getting the job done as quickly as possible. But there is no excuse for being rude. We are in business yes, and business is a contact sport, but we are all human beings deserving of a minimum level of respect and courtesy. No one spends enough money to allow them to abuse you, insult you, belittle you, or in any other way be negative about you, your business or your product. Bomb them out!
They don’t negotiate, they dictate: Most people expect a bit of negotiation. In fact, a lot of people enjoy it. Some, like teenagers from a time gone by, won’t even consider closing the deal without a bit of a dance before hand. But some go too far. Some don’t want a fair deal, they want to drive your rates into the ground. There is just no need to deal with people like this, people who aren’t respectful of the fact we all need to make a living. Stick to your price, and don’t be drawn into further conversation. If they want the deal they’ll need to pay the price. A price fair for everyone.
They don’t pay their bills: I am fed up of people who won’t pay. People with genuine cash flow problems, fair enough, we can always sort something out. But people that deliberately withhold payment for no good reason are damaging to everyone. I’ve seen real hardships caused to small businesses that work on tight margins when someone is late paying. And its even worse when it’s a big concern doing it to the little guy. And let’s get something straight, if there is something wrong, I can usually fix it pretty quickly. Don’t withhold payment. Give me a chance first. If I consistently say I’ll do something, and then let you down, then by all means, hold back payment to ‘incentivise’ me to perform. If I haven’t, stick to the terms of the deal.
They won’t see you: This is a partnership, we and our clients are in it together. If they never agree to meet to discuss strategy or even just to finish off the finer details how can you be expected to do your best work? If you can’t get in to see them to get a new brief, or they cancel service calls it becomes harder and harder to make sure you are doing the best job you can. Unless you have messed up, if you have upset them or proved you don’t deserve their time in some way, you should be able to count on access to your clients to do your job.
They don’t spend enough money: This is a tough one to call. You are getting better, but they stay as they always were. I have found time and time again, that an account manager gets the client list they deserve. In other words, the better you are, the better your clients are. If you are low-level and transactional, your clients will be. If you are high level and consultative, you clients will be that. As you progress, you will out grow the clients you have won over time. You will be able to take very few with you from novice level to expert. Its hard, but you need to cut the clients you have out grown to free up your time.
It can certainly be counter intuitive, back getting rid of some of these clients can be the best thing for your over all business. Think of it as a gardener would when pruning and deadheading and the like – it’s all about freeing up space and light to allow the best plants to bloom. What do you think? Get rid? Or hand on till they naturally fade away? Leave a comment below or tweet me direct on @radiojaja