Should you be ditching your customers?
I was having a conversation the other day with one of my clients and they were moaning about one of their customers. This person was never happy with what they did for them, they always haggled over price and were more demanding that anyone else they worked with. Now I wouldn’t normally encourage people to moan about their customers but I sensed they just needed to blow off some steam. Once he was done I felt that I needed to ask him why he was still working for them and I wasn’t surprised by the answer; he needed the money. So many of our bad decisions get made by false economies, we trade our long-term happiness and success for short term cash.
You have to put food on the table
Now I can get that, after all, we all have to put food on the table but consider the most likely outcome. However hard you try, the work you produce for the pain-in-the-arse client is never going to be your best work. You won’t be able to do it as quickly or as easily as you should, you’ll always end up putting on the bottom of the pile. So what ends up happening is the clients ditch us, they don’t come back for further work and they certainly don’t recommend us to other people. So all that work and stress actually puts our business in a worse place in the end. It’s ok though because you’ve earned a few quid.
Next, because we are working on the negative piece of business we miss out on other opportunities to work with the clients who do love what we do, are prepared to pay full price and ultimately will recommend us to other people. Either because we don’t have the time or energy to recognise these opportunities or because we are in such a bad mood that we drive these people away. This is the bigger problem because this is where the real growth opportunities within our business lie.
So what else stops us doing it?
It reminds me a little bit of me as a young teenage boy dating, in fact, it’s similar to the way that so many of us may have approached dating when we were younger. You go out with someone for a little while and realise that it’s not really working, rather than have an honest conversation about it, we start acting in a way that that will annoy the other person. Why because we want the other person to do the break-up, we can then be the victim; the one whose been let down. We can court the sympathy of others and feel like we’ve won the moral battle. Mainly it stops us having to initiate a difficult conversation, you don’t have to take responsibility for ditching the other person.
It’s so easy to act this way with our customers as well. If we don’t want to do the work we leave it to the last minute, we rush the work, we delay in phoning people back or responding to emails, we make up excuses for things rather than fixing them. Generally, we act like a bad boyfriend (or girlfriend) just so we don’t have to deal with the conversation, you don’t have to take responsibility for ditching your customers.
What you should do
If you’ve got a customer (and I’ll bet you’ll have several) who don’t get you, don’t appreciate what you do and aren’t happy paying you then ditch them. Have that difficult conversation to saying that it’s not working out, admit that you won’t be able to help them the way they want. The least that will happen is that you stop wasting your time but you might find the respect you more for it. If you have the right connections you might know someone who would love to have that person as a client and that way you can do everyone a favour.