Michael Lodge - listen to my PodCast
Lodge & Co. www.lodge-co.com
Offices: Burbank, CA & Greenville, SC
I don't know if you have ever gone through a crises in your company or firm, but it is hell if you don't have a crises plan in shape. But what you learn is that you have to let some clients go. You have to fire them. And you have to review your clients from time to time to see what their ethics are in how they operate their business or personal tax issues.
Forbes Magazine ran an article that is a good lesson study for all of us. And it goes like this.
How do you know when it’s time to move on? Here are six warning signs for clients who bring more trouble than they are worth:
1. They Make Unreasonable Demands
We’ve all heard stories about the nightmare client who calls at 11 p.m. with a new idea. Or the client who acts like you are their dedicated employee. Then, there’s also the poor planner who expects you to save him with last-minute work, week after week.
What you should do: “Unreasonable” clients are that way for a reason; they got their expectations from somewhere. If their way of thinking doesn’t work for you and your business, then you need to recalibrate their expectations.
Everyone has his or her own definition for reasonable and unreasonable behavior. This is particularly true when it comes to setting limits between personal and professional time. Some consultants and contractors may not mind when contacted in the evening and over the weekend, while others want to maintain strict 9-5 office hours. The bottom line is, you need to decide what parameters work for you and then stick to your guns. If a client doesn’t respect the boundaries that you’ve set, then it’s time to find someone else who does.
2. They Want Everything for Nothing
There’s nothing wrong with negotiating. Everyone -- including a good client -- wants to get the best deal possible. However, if a client is overly pushy about prices from the start, take this as a red flag. These same clients will probably grumble with every invoice, ask for extra work outside your initial agreement, and will never understand the value of professional work.
What you should do: Debating every invoice and quote will suck up too much time and emotional energy. Don’t waste your time on clients who don’t appreciate the value you bring to the table. As long as your pricing is fair and you perform good work, don’t worry about losing a client or two that finds your services too costly. Remember that low-quality clients tend to lead to more low-quality projects. It’s hard to grow your business when dealing with clients who aren’t willing to invest in themselves.
3. They’re Always Slow to Pay
Clients that are consistently slow to pay aren’t just annoying; they disrupt your cash flow. But in most cases these clients aren’t trying to cheat you; they’re simply business owners or managers who are too busy or disorganized.
What you should do: Try to have at least two to three months of “safety funds” for your business, so a client’s slow payment doesn’t impact your ability to pay your bills. This will allow you to cut a good client some slack now and then. However, if a client is notoriously late invoice after invoice, and requires numerous reminders each time, then it’s time to move on. That’s particularly true if you find yourself spending significant time tracking down payments, worrying about payments, or not trusting a client’s promises.
4. They Don’t Listen to You
If you’ve been working long enough, you are bound to run across clients who don’t follow your advice, are resistant to change, or simply think they know better (even though they hired you for your expertise in the first place). Perhaps they edit and revise your work beyond all recognition. Or, they don’t listen to your advice in the first place and then expect you to fix everything when things go wrong.
What you should do: Dealing with a client who continually refuses to listen to you can be a hair-tearing experience that creates more stress than it’s worth. These clients may pay well, but there’s little job satisfaction as it’s nearly impossible for you to be proud of a finished project that goes against your advice and expertise. If you find yourself stuck in this situation, respectfully voice your opinion, complete the work to the client’s liking, and then be smart enough to move on.
5. They Don’t Respond to You
This client hires you for a project then disappears. You may have been given strict project deadlines, but whenever you need information, approval, or input, they are nowhere to be found. This is the classic “hurry up and wait” situation, where you are forced to sit on the sidelines waiting for feedback.
What you should do: While dealing with this type of client can be frustrating, don’t take the lack of response personally. A slow response doesn’t necessarily reflect the client’s unhappiness with your work. In most cases, their schedule is simply too overloaded or their priorities have shifted. In these cases, you can try to move the project along by asking if there’s another contact to work with. Be crystal clear about the potential consequences (such as missed deadlines) and keep the email trail of all correspondences.
If you fail to get any kind of response, it may be time to pull the plug. After all, missing a deadline can be stressful, no matter the underlying cause. And, it’s difficult to schedule other clients and work with such unpredictability. Send an invoice for the balance due and ask them to check back in once they’re ready to reengage.
6. They Show a Basic Lack of Respect
Do you have a client who constantly misses meetings or cancels them at the last minute? Are they ever rude to you or to someone who works for you? Clients like these don’t just lack basic manners, they eat up your valuable time and interfere with your business. While it’s perfectly understandable to change plans now and then, frequent rescheduling shows a lack of respect for your time, plain and simple.
What you should do: The first step is to begin billing for any cancelled appointments if you aren’t doing so already. After all, you need to send the message that your time is valuable. If you ever feel like a client doesn’t respect you, then it’s time to stop investing your time and energy in that relationship. You’ll find plenty of new clients that can offer you the respect you deserve. It’s time to move on to bigger and better things. - Written by - Nellie Akalp , Contributor
I thought this was a great article because it is what I have practiced for over 18 years. I have fired clients and I have had to walk clients out of my office because they became disruptive, rude, arrogant, unethical. And when you go through a crises take advantage of it, you will find it is the best time to let clients go that you have always felt were a risk. I have clients that will ask me for advise and I provide it to them. However, they never listen and go their own way and then come back owing huge sums because they didn't practice what I told them. Those are the kinds of clients that I put in a risk category. Those that are willing to give you bad data, or stretch the expense, or tell a story that you find is not true when you see their financials, are also put in the risk category. There are times when you just have to tell these kinds of clients - your fired.
I created the WBT in association with my firm to help teach. I hope that this helped. If you have any comments send me an email to: email@example.com If you need crisis management help, send us an email.