Fired anyone lately? Or more precisely, fired a client lately? If you haven’t, perhaps it’s time.
Now you may think that’s an awful thing to say. However, we all have certain clients who drain us of our time, our energy and even our sanity! I bet you don’ have to think too hard before these types of clients pop into mind. Perhaps they are incredibly demanding and don’t value your time or what you do. Maybe they expect the world yet drag the chain when it comes to paying their bills. Perhaps it’s those needy ones who are constantly on the phone asking questions and getting you to solve every problem for them yet they don’t want to pay for it.
You all know what I’m talking about. The reality is that there comes a time when some customers are no longer worth the money they spend with you.
Over the last 2 years, we have had a major clean up and clean out of all the dead wood in our business. We have got rid of clients that don’t value us and what we do, who don’t pay their bills on time, who are rude and pull team morale down and those who, dare I say it, are just horrible to deal with.
So, how do you know if you should fire a client?
6 Tips on identifying when to fire a client
1. Clients who don’t pay
The number one reason for most businesses to cut a client loose is when they don’t pay their bills on time. If you clients are constantly pushing your payment terms by weeks or even months – that’s a definite sign. Especially when you have bills and wages to pay. Sometimes more time is wasted in chasing them to pay you, than money brought in for the job in the first place.
2. Clients who don’t value what you do
Clients that don’t value what you do are usually the ones who think that they could do a better job. Often they’ll say ‘I have a quick job that I’d like you to whip up – shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes’. This is a flag to a red bull and you should take heed. The reality is that if your client doesn’t think that it will take time to do, they don’t value what you do. Another aspect of a client not valuing what you do, is when they don’t leave you much time to do the project, forcing you to down tools, only to have them not get back to you or delay paying.
3. Clients who waste your time
Clients who waste or don’t value your time, are not worth holding onto. They contact you at ridiculous hours, leave everything to the last minute and expect you to drop everything for them. They usually complain if you’re in a meeting when they call, or don’t return their call within 10 minutes. They will waste your time in many ways. Sometimes it’s in not getting back to you so that you spend time phoning, chasing emails etc. Perhaps it’s not paying bills so that you are chasing them there too. They phone or pop in without making appointments and spend 30 minutes discussing the same thing that they discussed 2 hours before. As the saying goes ‘time is money’. So if they are wasting your time, they are wasting your money.
4. Clients who bring down team morale
Another good sign of when to fire a client is when they phone and the entire team groans – no one wants to take their call. If your client is bring down team morale, they are not worth keeping. Your team is one of your most valuable assets in business and if there is a client who is bringing them down, that’s one of the best of reasons to give them the flick.
5. Clients who always complain
We all know these clients. They never take any responsibility and always expect you to fix their problems – for free – even if the problem isn’t yours to fix. Enough said.
6. Clients who don’t refer others to you
Clients that don’t refer you to others, don’t value or respect you. They are not loyal and they would happily jump ship as soon as the next shiny thing comes along. If they don’t help you to grow your business, then they are hindering you growing your business.
By the time you’ve decided to ‘fire’ a client, the relationship is usual under stress. The trick is to get rid of them before things get really nasty. The truth is that no break up is ever easy – business or personal. The longer you leave it, the more contempt you will have for the client and the higher the likelihood that the relationship will be unsalvageable. Sometimes it gets ugly and you simply have to cut them loose, while other times it’s a matter of chatting to them, saying that you’re no longer a good fit, suggesting a few other people who could help them and send them on their way.
Some may think it’s bad business to get rid of any clients – after all, they bring in the bacon – right? Wrong! If they don’t pay you, don’t value you and take advantage of you, then they are not worth keeping and are probably costing you more than they bring in.
On the flip side, there are those clients who are a delight to work with. They communicate, trust and appreciate what you do. They use kind words, work with you rather than make you feel that you are their personal property to abuse and rule over. They appreciate that there are systems in place to make work flow well and they abide by them. We love these clients. Not only do we want to do better work for them, we often go the extra mile.
It’s these clients that make the others look so bad, and makes it easier to set the wood adrift.
Written by branding specialist Debbie O’Connor
Consultant, Strategist, Keynote Speaker