Today’s Dear Coach is about Four Signs That You Need to Fire a Bad Client.
One statistic that has stuck with me for years is that the average American spends 100,000 hours of their life on the job. I learned that factoid early on in my business, and from that point forward I was determined to work only with people I like. I don’t have to be their best friend or exchange friendship bracelets, but I do have to be able to enjoy their company over lunch. If I can imagine that during a sales meeting, I know I’ll like having them as a client. If someone makes you crazy in the time it takes to eat a taco, chances are you’re not going to enjoy having them as a client.
This sounds all very obvious in theory, but in practice the pressures to make payroll or cover other expenses sometimes compel us to keep clients who are actually toxic to our business if not our souls. We keep them for the revenue, but they can actually take more time and resources than you’re being compensated for…and the toll on morale can be significant. Here are some signs to look for when considering whether it’s time to part company.
First, there’s the Nitpicker. Think about that client who nit-picks every expense and insists that tasks should take less time. They just “know” you are short changing them and insist that what you are doing for them wouldn’t take others in your field as long to complete. They’re always unreasonably demanding that you adjust the bill. A client who constantly questions your integrity should be a red flag and a prime candidate for firing.
Next is the “911 Operator”, who only knows how to make emergency calls. No one likes to be up against constant, chaotic deadlines, and trying to do something quickly and under pressure can stifle creativity and thoroughness. And yet, some people are addicted to adrenaline and like to stay in urgent mode all the time. “Living the urgent” is a high-stress way to live life, and the toll it takes on body and spirit is substantial. A better client choice is someone who adequately plans and prepares his time so that emergencies are occasional and understandable, not habitual.
Then we have the Soulsucking Micromanager. Typically, clients come to you because they have a problem, and you take them on because you know how to solve it. But some clients just won’t let you solve their problem. They insist on having to approve every step along the way and must be involved in every single detail. These are the same people who erroneously believe that good management entails micromanaging their employees. They invariably transfer that approach to their vendors, which in turn can destroy your morale and that of your employees. A great client is someone who hires you to solve a problem and is willing to give you the latitude to bring your experience to the table and help them resolve their issue.
Last but not least, we have The Hider. I have some sympathy for these folks. On the surface, delegation is a completely foreign skill. Most business owners know that in order to be successful, you can’t do it all alone. Highly effective people develop those around them, so they can consistently delegate tasks that they don’t have the time or skill to do. If your client refuses to let go of anything and insists on doing the very things you were hired to do, chances are another force is at work. Sometimes business owners prefer to work “in” their business rather than “on” their business because they’re hiding from doing something that makes them uncomfortable. They often have a fear that’s ruling their decisions. The problem is their discomfort bleeds over to your ability to function. A great client does what they do best and they delegate the rest.