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Business Tips – Firing a Client – Part 3

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We all agree, at some point in our lives, that there are clients that we just have to get rid of or we ourselves will suffer a slow and agonizing death. Here are a few more reasons for you to look at, to know and to understand, that now is the time to fire these clients.

At some point in our lives, we have all done work that has been boring to the point of screaming inside ourselves, ‘if I have to do this one more time I am going to kill myself’! Often we hold onto it because of the financial implications – it puts food on the table. The problem is, what it does to our ‘souls’. It can go a long way to destroying the entrepreneurial spirit, or it will often crush our self- confidence. Sometimes we do it to ‘add’ to our portfolio’s or so that we can show that we have worked for a plethora of interesting clients – my suggestion to you though is to get rid of them as soon and then as fast as you can. They will rob you of the essence of who you are faster than you can blink!

Then, of course, there is the client that you have had since before ‘pa fell off the bus’! Let me tell you a story. When I first started my business in 2003, one of my first clients was also in the retail game. They had little in the way of policies and procedures and they also had a host of hungry shark type suppliers following them around. Several months into our relationship I discovered suppliers stealing from them and I mean stealing goods – actual goods going missing and stealing money in overcharges and the like and then the fun started. To cut a long story short the claims and the court cases amounted to several million Rand – nothing to be sneezed at.

Once the main hurdles had been jumped, although there was still a lot of work to be done and policies and procedures to be implemented – my weekly obligation was suddenly cut from 3 days a week to 1 and then just as suddenly, only when they needed me. I weathered the storm understanding the lessons that I had to learn and got on with my life. Almost a year went by and suddenly, out of the blue, I received a call to please come and assist them with their shipping documents – it appeared that the new supplier was also overcharging them. It was the 2nd week in December, my diary was full and I was handed the shipping documents for the entire year to check and go through. I ended up working through the night every second night and at the end of the exercise I even gave them a 15% discount – they’re “old” clients after all.

This is where it gets interesting – they paid, but asked me to reduce my fees even further as they could not afford me. Here they are, both partners driving in the latest Merc’s, wearing the height of fashion, going overseas on holiday several times a year – money seemed to be of no consequence, yet here they were asking me for a ‘better rate’ – never mind that they had not given me any work for an entire year, never mind that I had to work through the night every second night for almost 3 weeks – none of that seemed to matter in the slightest. You see they had given me one of my ‘first breaks’! Here’s the thing though – I had worked like a dog for every cent that they had given me and it wasn’t as if I had not delivered.

My reply – well it went something along the lines of “my hourly rate is RXXXX. If you are willing to guarantee me, in writing a minimum of Y hours a month, I am prepared to give you a 5% discount, on anything over the Y number of hours that I work.”

Did I get any more work from them? Of course not. Was it sad to see them go? Of course, it was, my relationship with one of the partners spanned more than 15 years and we have now seemed to have gone our separate ways. Has it made any difference in my life? Of course, it has – I found a bunch of other clients who are willing to pay the full price and who don’t dump things on me at the last minute and who don’t expect me to work all hours of the night and day because they are not organised.

Don’t be scared to walk away from something that does nothing but builds up resentment in your heart – it’s just not worth it. By walking away from something that is harmful, you are opening up the door for something a lot more worthwhile.

Next week we will have a look at some additional reasons on why to get rid of some of your clients.