A friend of mine was whinging about his clients this week. “I’m just not getting to the important proposals, because every five minutes I get another request from a small client who needs something time consuming from me, and then he will probably ignore my advice anyway”. Business owners are so focused on growing and retaining their client bases that they don’t realise that if they fire a client, they could create the vacuum they need for growth.

There are lots of good reasons to retain your clients.
  • We all know that it costs more to sell to a new client than to an existing one.
  • In a tough economy we can’t really afford to be selective about our clients, we should be grateful for them.
  • Your clients pay your salary.
  • There’s a chance that your small client will grow and will be able to afford more of your products and services, so it’s worth looking after them.

However, if you have clients that drain you emotionally, physically or mentally, they could keep you from enjoying your business and that will negatively impact the work you do for other clients.

Key to scrubbing your client list is being able to define what your ideal client is. This allows you to select clients that fit the mould, and those that don’t need to move on.

Deep down, you know who they are, but here’s a checklist of fireable offences and good reasons to help your dud clients move on and find another supplier.

Good reasons to fire a client
  • Making unreasonable demands – some clients abuse the client-supplier relationship and have unrealistic expectations.
  • Never paying on time – when you spend more time chasing money and resending invoices and statements than providing value, it’s time to part ways.
  • Threatening to go to a competitor – sometimes the best advantage you can give your business is to send these clients to the competitor!
  • Wanting everything for nothing – clients who don’t respect the value you add will always ask for a discount.
  • Complaining about everything – if clients are always complaining but are still doing business with you, there’s something wrong with the client, not your business.
  • Keeping you busy for little profit – it’s the 80/20 principle. 80% of your profit comes from 20% of your clients.
  • Lack of respect for your personal time and deadlines – great clients will acknowledge your need for balance in your work/personal life, and give you time to do the job properly.
  • Ignoring your advice… if your clients do their own thing despite your recommendations, they are better off on their own.
  • You find yourself bad mouthing the client to others… this is a dangerous game you are playing, because while the client may deserve it, it’s a bad reflection on you. Call it quits and move on.
  • Unethical practices that you don’t want to associate with… as you get to know clients, you might discover dodgy dealings that you can’t afford to be a part of.

At times, the best way to grow your business is to fire a client who is holding you back.

Could you create a vacuum and make space in your business for a new client that is more profitable and less effort?

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