Possibly every business owner has a story of a nightmare client. Maybe you even have one in your business right now. How do you fire a problem client?
Letting Go Of Problem Clients
If you’ve ever taken a look at your client list, you’ve probably noticed that about 20% of your clients contribute around 80% of your revenue. And further, that about 20% of your clients consume about 80% of your time and resources. Where those two categories fail to overlap, you’ve got problems.
But beyond the losses and frustrations of an unprofitable or unpleasant client, is the fact that they’re eating up the time you could be spending out looking for ideal fit, dream clients for your business.
So how do you let go of the problem clients?
Be Clear, Direct, and Firm. Just like the conversation about raising your prices, it will be uncomfortable and no one wants to deliver or receive bad news. But if it’s got to happen, here are a couple tips:
- Do it in person or by phone. This is not a conversation to have by email.
- Be professional and polite and keep focused on their needs. You don’t want to leave anyone in a bind if it can be avoided.
- Be prepared. Try not to have any unfinished projects or unpaid invoices out there hanging over anyone’s head. The last thing you want is to end up in a hostage negotiation.
- Offer alternatives if possible. If you’re no longer a fit to serve their needs in a mutually beneficial way, maybe they can work with one of your competitors. You don’t burn a bridge with the client and your competitor can spend their time trying to make them happy.
However, it’s also important to know when the problem is you and not them.
If you have allowed clients to call you 24/7 and not pay because you never send out invoices or have under-charged in the past, then the problem is on you. You are responsible for teaching your clients how to treat you. If retraining existing clients if your task, here are some additional tips:
- Charge for the value your providing and handle all your follow up and invoicing promptly.
- Set clear boundaries and procedures for communication and submitting requests.
- Make sure your policies are congruent with your goals and core values.
- Consistently enforce your policies and model the behavior you desire to receive.
I hope this helps you. What are your challenges in this area? Let me know in the comments or reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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P.S. If improving your mindset to be more productive and effective as a leader and problem solver in your business is your goal, you might like my 20-minute guided meditation, which is available for free to download to your phone or PC.