It took me too long to realize that not all clients are created equal, and I should not treat them equally. My lesson was that there’s no law stating you must sell to everyone, or keep servicing clients that are the wrong fit for your business.
If you’re miserable working with a client that you know isn’t profitable for your company, you won’t be motivated to serve them well. And, if that client isn’t receiving the best treatment, they won’t hit their desired goals. By virtue of this predicament, you’ve created a lose-lose situation: You’re not helping the client reach their objectives, and they’re not helping you reach yours.
Here are the two customers that I discovered too late that we should never being doing business with!
- The ‘no one else matters’ client. These are the clients that expect you to work only for them and all the time. They drag quick calls into 90-minute meetings, and 90-minute meetings into all-day events. They call you on the weekends on your cell phone. These relationships never work and turn ugly when their inappropriate expectations aren’t met. I fired one of these ‘I expect you to be in my office at 8 a.m. tomorrow’ clients after only one month. Life’s too short.
- The ‘check is in the mail’ client. You aren’t a bank, even if you work for a bank! Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business. When a client starts abusing the financial aspect of the relationship, talk to them immediately. If they will not rectify the situation, stop work until they do, or fire them immediately. No matter how prestigious. Recently a software client of mine cut off software support and turned off the online database for a client who was 90 days late with payment. The check was couriered overnight that day.
Firing a client may mean a short-term hit, but it’s critical for your long-term emotional health! Firing a client now not only frees up time for you to spend on more profitable clients, it also provides a boost of morale. When you step up and fire a bad customer, you win everyone’s trust, loyalty, and respect. Especially your own.