Why you shouldn't work with sh*te clients

Posted on:21. 01. 2014

By Cliff Findlay

It may sound like an obvious statement and yet it’s one which many businesses tend to ignore, even though the benefits of being able to refuse or get rid of certain clients will very often outweigh the benefits of taking on a new project or keeping them on retainer.

Let me explain. Some clients (we all know them) are simply never happy, no matter how great your service is. They never do as you ask; they always treat you like a supplier rather than a partner; they don’t pay their invoices on time; they promise you more business in return for free work; they make constant changes; they don’t respond to emails or calls, they’re rude to your staff, etc. The list goes on and on.

The financial impact they can have on your business can be significant. Think of all the unnecessary management time you may be dedicating to them in order to keep them happy, which is reducing your profit with every passing minute. They might not pay you on time, which affects your cash flow and adds additional expense trying to chase them. They constantly make changes during a project or force you to reduce your rates on the empty threat of finding another supplier if you don’t. Typically, no one in your organisation likes dealing with them so they can create unrest with your staff, which tends to lead to a lack of proactivity and urgency to get the project finished. This in turn makes it drag on far longer than it should and ends up costing you more money in resources. And they probably don’t like giving you a great testimonial or won’t refer you any business either (you probably couldn’t be bothered to ask them anyway). So in summary, poor clients = a waste of time and money.

Now let’s take a look at a ‘good’ client. They like you and you like them, meaning you’ll get a lot more done together (and quicker) as everyone involved gets on and is pulling in the same direction. They trust you to do what you do best and only make changes or provide input when it’s absolutely necessary. They’re happy to pay your proposed rates and they pay on time. And they’re probably happy to give you a testimonial or refer you more business when you ask for it. In other words, the relationship works and is healthy for both parties.

“Yes, some clients are really difficult but we need the business” I hear you say? Well, rather than looking at it as lost business think of it as gained time. Valuable time that can be put to much better use looking for decent clients. Have you ever considered where your good clients came from or how they got in touch with you? Is there a common denominator? Is there a particular service or industry sector they come from? Could you win more and more of them and get rid of your poor clients at the same time?

I believe that, as unnatural a business measure it may seem to let clients go, it can ultimately be the difference between a company growing in leaps and bounds and a business struggling to move forward while they continue to spend time on unhealthy client relationships.

Some food for thought…

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