Firing a client is never an easy task. It can feel daunting, perhaps even drastic, but sometimes it is necessary for the success of your business. Regardless of the size of your business, you shouldn’t have to deal with clients that leave their manners at the doorstep and stroll right on in with all the endless hoops they want you to jump through.
Life is too short to be a doormat, and no amount of money is worth letting them walk all over you. So before you think about grinning and bearing it, show them the door. Then you can put all your focus on the one’s that matter – and aren’t they lovely?
The good clients are a walk in the park, they are the driver of your success, and you’re more than happy to go the extra mile for them. They not only see the value in the work you do, but they appreciate it too. They pay invoices on time and are ever so pleasant to converse with. They make all the stresses that come with running a business worthwhile and give your work purpose. Unfortunately, the good eggs usually don’t get high priority when other clients are huffing and puffing and ready to blow the whole office down.
These are the ones that make you feel like you’re running a marathon, expecting you to go the extra mile and then some (25 to be exact). Just like a toddler, if they want something, they want it NOW.
They pay their invoices when they please, and for someone that has no insight into your business and your overheads – they have an awful lot to say about your pricing. Why can’t you just cut them a discount for absolutely no reason and go way out of scope free of charge?
What are the reasons you would fire a client?
Considering all the time and energy that goes into attracting new business, from marketing to discovery calls, complimentary quotes and emails – it can seem a tad counterproductive to go around firing clients. But there are several reasons why firing your most dreaded clients is the best move for your business.
Capacity for more.
More clients do not necessarily equal more money. If all your time is spent tending to every whim of your entitled and low paying clients, then not only will your profit be taking a hit, but your respectful clients will not be getting the attention and value they deserve. So when you cut the cord on your time drainers, you will have more room to fill up with great clients. This means you will have fewer people to service but more money as they value and respect the work you do.
Pushing the boundaries.
Why it’s always great to push yourself out of your comfort zone – let’s draw the line when it comes to violating health and safety procedures, disregarding the law, and taking a sledgehammer to your moral compass. Not only do clients who push the boundaries cause inner conflict, but it places your business at risk. For Accountants, this might be a client trying to avoid tax instead of meeting their legal obligations. For builders, this could look like a client insisting you cut corners and stray from protocol.
Clients that value what you do and appreciate your work are more likely to come back and ask for you to assist with other projects. If you’re a photographer that captured their summer product launch, they will come back for their autumn, winter and spring campaigns. If you’re a lawyer that helped them navigate purchasing a business, they will come to you for their contracts and ongoing support.
How to know when it’s time to fire a client?
With all that said and done, how do you know which clients have to go?
When in doubt, create a spreadsheet. In the said spreadsheet, list all of your clients and start ranking them from A to D, A being the best, based on the following four categories.
1) How much revenue do they generate?
2) How cooperative and friendly are they to work with?
3) Do they pay their invoices on time?
4) How many clients have they referred you to?
‘A’ should be as easy as a Sunday morning and have top marks across the board. ‘B’ might not have a flawless score, but they are still well-loved. ‘C’ is slightly more challenging, but on the whole, they are worth the effort. While ‘D’ is the circus master with the hoops. They’re a lot of work for little reward and simply, not worth the grief. ‘D’ doesn’t stand for the devil that walks amongst us – it could also simply mean that their niche is no longer profitable or relevant for your small business.
Now that you’ve got your list, don’t just say adios to all of your ‘D’ clients and call it a day. All categories are equally important when it comes to running a business that makes ‘more’ possible for you and your team.
The insights you can gain from your ‘A’ grade clients are invaluable for your marketing and business development strategy. They are likely your advocates as well, so take the time to find any common dominators or patterns so you can attract more A-class clients. You should also review your list regularly to know who the weakest links are and focus on turning every ‘B’ into an ‘A’.
Still need to get a handle on your clients?
If you’re struggling to identify who your ideal client is or navigate saying goodbye to those that are not up to scratch, then we are here to help you every step of the way.
At Orbit, we want you to be empowered and in control of your business, which is why we provide specialist business advisory services to help Sydney small businesses reach their unique goals.