Well, that’s certainly an alarming thing to say. However, anyone who has been in business a long time already knows what this means.
Some clients you just don’t want. They’re not good for you and your business, you and your employees. And you have to let them go.
We all want to grow our businesses, we all want more success, but there are certain clients that hinder your success. And you have to become expert at isolating who those guys are and firing them as clients.
It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, there are just people that are wrong for you as a company. They might be right for someone else’s company, but they are wrong for you and you know it.
Think about this: 80% of all of your complaints come from less than 20% of your clients. And the majority of the worst complaints you’ll usually find come from less than 5% of your entire client base. And what does “this less than 5%” do? They make your staff hate their jobs, make everyone think your service is faulty where it actually isn’t, they eat up your precious time, they threaten lawsuits, they go on Google, Yelp, BBB and Angie’s List and write bad reviews, you know who they are. It’s that client you wish you would have never taken on. We’ve all had them.
But now here is the REAL kicker: You saw the red flags very early on with this person.
It’s sort of like dating. You might meet a guy or a girl and you want to see all of the good things and ignore the bad things, but in the end when things go south it was the bad things that you saw early on, and ignored, that really did you in. It’s no different with customers. You saw the red flags in the sales cycle, when you were in their home, talking to the customer on the phone, etc. But, you wanted to choose to see the good, or maybe you just had dollar signs in your eyes, either way you ignored the red flags.
In any well-run business, you need to spend 80% of your time on the 80% of your clients that actually deserve your work. These guys pay you on time, they’re good customers, you want to help them and they need your help. We won’t get into why this very small percentage of people seem to not want your help or make things worse for the both of you when you’re simply trying to help them, as that’s probably a subject for someone else to take up. As business owners the only thing we need to take up is getting rid of them.
I know it sounds harsh, but it’s just a fact of being in business. You owe good service to your good clients, those 80% of people to pay their bills on time. And if you and your staff are spending all of your time on that very small percentage of people who are “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”, you were actually doing a disservice to the majority of your clientele. That’s the real issue you have to face in choosing to fire a client. It takes guts to fire a clients, but to the degree that you do that, your business will be smoother and faster it will grow faster, it will be quieter on customer service lines and you’ll just be plain happier.
You can also include in this those customers that do not pay their bills on time, that never make their appointments and anything else that stops you from running a smooth business. You don’t need the money that badly. And if you do need the money that badly and you take on a client like this, I promise you you will stop other money that should be coming in from arriving.
I just talked to one of my clients about this about two weeks ago and he was talking about how much time he was spending on this one client, in her house dealing and with all of her customer service problems and the whole time he was there just dealing with headaches, he wasn’t paying attention to his other clients and no sales were coming in either he wasn’t getting any new water damage leads or business. And as soon as he said, “This is just not right for me”, he fired the client. Over the next three days he pulled in six more jobs, all of which were good paying, well mannered clients.
I hate to tell people how long it takes to learn this lesson, but usually for people that didn’t learn business from their father or anything like that, we learned this after years and years of working on these types of people and finally discovering that the best thing you can do for your company, your finances, your growth, your employees and clients is to fire that very small percentage of clients. Get rid of the squeaky wheel’s that get the grease. Grease the four wheels that are actually rolling and keeping the car on the road.
Founder and CEO