Everyone has them . . . customers or clients that, while they may generate a good deal of revenue for your business, are incredibly ‘high maintenance’. They require excessive handholding or perhaps are overly demanding. They don’t accept your advice, and complain when their adverse choices turn out badly. You know the ones I’m talking about. Whenever you hear their voices, your blood pressure rises. And, you’re always in a conundrum, that is, puzzled about having them as your client. It seems a ‘mixed blessing’.
In a previous life, I was the general manager for a company that produced multimedia presentations for businesses. I frequently cautioned my sales team that when the client wants to do something that’s NOT in their best interest, like put too much information on a 35mm slide, it was definitely not in OUR best interest either. Why? Because they would blame us for not counseling them better and might decline to pay all or part of the bill. I can’t tell you how many times a client was dissatisfied with the end product when we allowed them to NOT heed to our expertise. (“But I’ve got to put the company’s entire balance sheet on this one slide. There’s no other way around presenting it.”)
So, are these people, and their business, worth the stress, time and extreme costs of high maintenance? Are the revenues they generate really providing cash flow AND profit? Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s very unlikely that they do.
Getting rid of a good customer takes some soul searching. I’ll bet that your first response is something like, “She’s my biggest client — I’ll be losing a lot of money”. So, why is it your mind and body are always questioning that relationship? It’s because your brain and gut are disagreeing with you. They see that client as a burden and someone who generates very little, if any, real profit.
I’ve coached a few folks who took a hard, detailed and thoughtful look at clients and realized they were not only costing them dearly due to the STRESS they created, but that the financial analysis of their business actually generated not only NO profit, but a NEGATIVE cash flow. That’s right, I said negative!! BIG RED NUMBERS! WOW! Still, they were unable to resolve their feelings about unburdening themselves and their employees with this ‘loser’ client.
Okay, so it’s time to stop beating yourselves up over this. One question will help you decide what your plan of action should be. Ready? Here it is.
What would your life be like without that client?
Answer this honestly and completely, and you’re ready to move forward. Yeah, maybe you could do a better job of training your client (what, you say you don’t train your clients? They train you? Hmmm. Sounds like a great topic for another article.). Perhaps investing more time training this client will have a big pay off in the future. Or, should you give them the boot?
I tell my coaching clients to think of their business and the time they spend there like the parking lot of a shopping mall or church. If all the parking spaces are filled, there won’t be any more shoppers or worshippers coming inside.
Your company is like that too. If your time is already ‘maxed’ out with the clients you have, you can’t properly serve new ones. And those prospects could be better clients than those you already have! But you’ll never know . . . you’re too busy to take on any new