There are reams of material written about how to nurture a client relationship.
But no amount of jollying someone along or bending over backwards or sucking it up is to going to change the basic fact that some clients just aren’t worth nurturing. In fact, nurturing them is exactly the wrong thing to do. When a client’s habit or demands pass the point of being occasionally irritating to interfering with your potential for wealth and health, it’s time to cut them loose.
Life is too short to invest your energy in maintaining a relationship with client who is bad for your bottom line and/or your mental health.
You know it’s time to fire a client when:
1. The client is abusive
He throws tantrums, throws things, calls you names, stomps around shouting or otherwise acts in a physically threatening manner.
Such abuse might also consist of continually belittling you or making disparaging remarks about your gender, race or appearance.
If they did it once, were told that it bothered you and then do it again, it’s time to part ways – even if the comments were reportedly made to someone else. Like the abusive spouse, it doesn’t matter if he says he’s sorry. What matters is it happens.
2. The client makes unreasonable demands
Everyone sets their own personal bar for what’s unreasonable and what’s not. I think of unreasonable as being out of proportion.
For instance, if you want to call a business consultant to discuss your latest brainwave of a business idea at three in the morning, I consider that unreasonable. If it was a criminal lawyer you called me at 3 a.m. because you were locked up in a jail, it wouldn’t be unreasonable at all. Decide what you will and won’t do in your client relationships and stick to it.
3. The client is consistently slow to pay.
Clients that don’t pay on time are more than just annoying; they interfere with your business’s cash flow. You simply can’t afford them. Always let such clients know that you’re not fine with it, get them to understand that ypu have a policy regarding payment.
If it continues, then you really need to stop doing business with them.
4. The client constantly disputes your invoices
The client who is agreeable up front and then tries to “cheap out” and cut down the cost of the project is particularly aggravating. One such experience with such an individual is enough.
Stay stern, go after them for the money and then cut them loose.
5. The client doesn’t follow your advice – but expects you to pick up the pieces when things go wrong
This is the classic “so-what-did-you-hire-me-for?” hair-tearing client experience. The professional way to handle it is to help solve the client’s predicament, if possible. And then be smart enough not to repeat the experience by moving on.
They hired you because you’re an expert at what you do. If you know they suggestion would not end well, it’s important to always stand your ground.
6. The client plays you off against the competition
It hurts when a clients constantly compares you with a competitor. You should never let that happen by cutting off such client. If they need your competitor’s service, they should know where and how to get it.
People getting quotes for work they want done is an excellent practice. But trying to use competitors’ prices or timelines to renege on or get a lower fee on work that’s already been agreed on or is in progress is not.
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