One of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make as a boss was when to let an employee go.
While it was often about performance, on occasions it was either the business had moved in another direction and the role had changed.
In neither case were these bad people. Sometimes though you have to make tough decisions and free people up for better opportunities elsewhere.
So why would this be any different when working with a client?
Sometimes your business moves into a different direction. You no longer feel you can add value.
Other times just like a non performing employee, you have a client who’s difficult to deal with. They have unrealistic expectations, can be aggressive, complain about their situation, don’t take your advice and then wonder why nothing changes.
You know they could do so much better if they allowed you to do your job. But they don’t, and you get frustrated because you just can’t seem to get through.
But they pay well and you need the money, so you grimly hang on.
But it’s a huge trap. One I’ll admit we’ve fallen into too.
The longer we’ve been in business, the more we’ve realised the importance of only working with the right type of clients.
People who take advice, implement and are a pleasure to deal with. Note I didn’t say we won’t have robust discussions. But they’re willing to give it a go rather than have a “Yes, but”, “Or that won’t work” attitude.
Anything else causes a huge amount of stress and saps energy. Energy you should be putting into your other clients and building your business.
So one of the most important things you can do in your business is to continually refine your focus on who you could serve best. Who would make an IDEAL client. Who is most likely to buy and at a premium price.
And rather than concentrate on demographics like most do, define the psychographic attitudes instead.
In case you’re not familiar with the terms, demographics are physical attributes.
Industry, size of business, location, age ranges of individual consumers, gender, occupation, income level etc. The defining characteristic of a demographic is quantifiable.
Psychographics segments your market based on how they think and make decisions. Their personality traits, values, attitudes, interests and lifestyle.
A multi-millionaire mentor of ours puts it very succinctly.
His three qualifications for taking on a client are:
- Can I help you?
- Will you do what I tell you to?
- Do I like you?
If you fail the last, he won’t take you on. Simple, but effective.
So back to the original question, “Should you fire a client?”
Obviously that’s up to you and your personal circumstances. But you can’t open yourself up to better opportunities if you continually hang on to what you’ve got. You have to make space for the new things to arrive into your life.
And yes, it will take courage to let go of the client. Especially the income they generate. But sometimes you just have to have faith that the void will be filled.
But you’d better decide beforehand what you want instead by sitting down and really thinking through what attributes your ideal client would have, or you might end up with the same again.
If you’re having trouble compiling this list, think about clients you haven’t liked working with. List all their negative attributes. Then for each attribute list the positive opposite.
Then stick this on your wall and whenever you speak with a potential client, check them against your list.
Remember, always focus on what you want rather than on what you don’t want. This way you’ll attract it.
And finally, some timeless wisdom in employment. “Hire slow and fire fast.” The same applies to clients!
Need help to distil exactly who you should be targeting and how? A short, sharp Two Heads Consultation will help you get clarity. Call us on (02) 9499-7958 to book in.