I’ve fired a client.
No, we weren’t having problems.
In fact, I quite liked the owner.
So why would I fire his small business?
Simple: I dreaded the work.
It’s important to me that the work I do helps the business. Sometimes it’s not enough. A knot in my stomach bubbled up when I worked on his account. Furthermore, I’m not a procrastinator yet I kept putting off the work.
After parting on good terms, I felt revitalized. My stomach was a happy camper again and my attitude drastically improved. It drained a lot of my energy to work on this account. With that off my plate, I had enough energy to replace one client with two.
And this all happened when the economy hobbled. Not exactly the time anyone would want to cut back. Still, it paid off in different ways.
Your business can be better off if it fires good and bad clients when it’s needed. Yes, even in challenging times. In growing your business, your mission and strategy can veer from its original course. You come up with better products or services to adapt to current demand. You find a new target market that’s a better fit for your business and boosts revenue. Lots can happen to change things up.
Most important of all, letting go of the difficult or profit-killing clients allows your employees to breathe easier, feel happier, and enjoy their jobs more.
The clients you fire can fall in two groups: the bad ones who are frustrating or difficult and the good ones you like that drain resources.
The bad clients
Bad clients …
- Take too long to pay.
- Never return calls.
- Call too often.
- Don’t respect office hours.
- Won’t listen.
These clients vex employees, change their moods, and push them into looking for employment elsewhere. Affected employees may take it out on colleagues or other clients. That’ll hurt customer service and the company’s culture.
When you get sick, you feel cranky and sluggish. Negative clients make employees feel ill to the point where the only cure is to leave the company. They’ll leave in spite of valuing the company, coworkers, managers, and benefits.
Bad clients are like an infection. The best antibiotic may be letting them go. Once you do, you should see a spark of energy and positivity return. You may replace one bad client with two new ones. Even if you don’t find a replacement client, you break even because you’re saving on the costs in looking for a replacement for a departed employee.
The good clients
Firing a bad client makes sense, but a good one? Things change after working with a client for a long time. It could be your business. It could be your client.
Your company creates a new product or service that sells well. Yet, your employees continue servicing clients using old products or services. This splits your attention, which prevents you from fully focusing on your new, more successful venture.
Sometimes the client changes and no longer fits the company’s profile of an ideal client. For example, one company dropped a client because his business took a turn in the shady direction and switched to shifty marketing practices.
You may discover that a client no longer generates profit. You can try salvaging the relationship if you can negotiate a new contract or charge more for the extra time and expenses. Calculating how much your customer is worth ensures your company avoids potential losses.
Another reason for dumping good clients is because working with them isn’t rewarding. When your company was new, you were more willing to accept less than ideal clients. Since then, your company has grown, gaining the experience it needs to identify and land the right clients.
With a tighter client list, you and your employees will feel more upbeat. As a result, your business will grow and reach its goals faster.
If you’re ready to wean your client list, here’s how to fire a client.
What are some other reasons for firing a client? Have you ever fired a client? Please share your experience in comments because people want to hear from you.
Image credit: George