Firing a client! To many small business owners out there this may sound like attempting suicide. That said, it is often in our own best interests to get rid of problem clients.
Perhaps it would be a good idea to define what the word ‘client’ means. The Concise Oxford Dictionary says “Person using services of professional man (lawyer, architect, social worker etc).” The Wiki says “A customer is a buyer or receiver of goods or services”. Surely that would mean that if the client is a ‘buyer’ that the goods or services that they had received would actually need to be paid for.
Look I’m not saying that every time you have a difficult client you need to get rid of them, I am talking about the client who consistently takes up 80% of your time and energy but only contributes to 20% of your income. It’s the client who never listens when you tell them things, who never takes your advice but when the smelly brown stuff hits the fan, expects you to drop whatever you are doing and sort out their mess . . . at a discount!
It’s the client who you constantly battle to get money out of, in fact it takes you longer to get the money out of them than it did to do the job in the first place. I have some of these clients and my Customer policy for them is that they actually need to pay me up front and then I will do the work for the amount of money that they have paid me. That way they get the work done that they want and need and I get paid on time – a win/win I am sure that you would agree. Alternatively, get a deposit up front, especially if what you are selling is a product. I sell a service you see and quite honestly, I cannot un-write a policy or procedure or un-teach something that has already been taught, so there is nothing that I can actually take back from them.
Another way to deal with clients who don’t pay on time and then cancel everything out of the blue (when you have already done the work) is to put a substantial cancellation fee into your Terms and Conditions. Don’t be shy or scared to phone them for money, it is after all your money and I have no doubt that they did not blink an eye when they contacted you at all hours of the day and night demanding your attention.
It really isn’t worth the aggravation and irritation! They will cost you more in time and effort and energy than what you will make off them in the long run.
Next time we will have a look at some additional reasons on why to get rid of some of your clients.