Want to drastically cut the workload in your business, reduce the emotional drain to nearly nothing, and inject more pleasure into your work day?
Here’s a secret — check your client list.
Got customers who often call you in the middle of the
night with emergencies (real or imagined)?
Or demand you work every weekend to keep their rocks
out of the fire?
Or consistently pay late, though they refuse to wait
for your services?
Well, here’s the executive summary: troublesome clients will — if you let them — account for a disproportionately large part of your workload and emotional strain.
Meanwhile, they’ll account for a surprisingly small proportion of your profits. The 80/20 rule says that 20% of your clients will be the source of 80% of your profits, and vice versa. Guess which side those problem clients are lined up on?
This means you’re probably spending more than three-fourths of your time servicing hard-to-please, money-draining customers who are unlikely ever to contribute to your retirement (may even be interfering with it). Furthermore, they are also draining away energy you could be directing to more appreciative customers. So what do you need the problem clients for?
Short answer: think about it.
Of course, we’ve heard all the marketing gurus tell us that we MUST give top-notch, world-class service to our clients… that our business is all about our customers… that it’s important for us to feel genuine loving concern for every one of those with whom we do business.
If we don’t, they say, our business is headed for the scrapheap while other, more caring professionals will zoom right past us.
Well, they’re right, but let’s call a brief time out and take a closer look at this advice.
First, without taking sides one way or the other, let’s acknowledge that some clients, like some autos, require more maintenance than others do.
Now, if you find yourself with a car that’s shaping up to be a lemon, do you nurse that car endlessly, or do you eventually realize you’re in a situation of diminishing returns? Sometimes the most economically feasible thing is to dump the clunker and move on, right?
But that’s cars. What about people? Isn’t it important to invest our very best in every single person we deal with in life? Aren’t we supposed to treasure others and seek to see in them the highest potential possible?
After all, if you’ve been reading my lessons for a while, you know that I’m the guy who says that with the right mental attitude you can change anything to your favor. So how can I now be going on about difficult clients, and about dumping problems and moving on?
Okay, we’re still in time out, so let’s dig into this.
Let’s go back to why you’re in business. I assume you have a mission statement, or something resembling one. And that mission statement probably says something like you’re “helping clients solve a particular type of problem, and thereby making their world a better place for them.” Does that pretty well sum up why you’re in business?
If you’re nodding your head yes, you’re wrong.
You’re in business to make YOUR life better, and the life of those you’re emotionally close to. You’re doing this for a profit. YOUR profit.
OLD CHINESE PROVERB: No profit, no point.
The improvement you bring to your clients’ lives is your STRATEGY for buying improvements in your own life.
That mission statement is HOW you’ve chosen to make your profits. It’s HOW you’re going about deserving the pay that you want to receive from other people. Not why.
Of course, you won’t receive YOUR profits unless you’re providing good, solid, honest value to others. You’ve got to give value to receive value.
Then why do so many people in business think it’s necessary to give value patiently, endlessly, while failing to insist on receiving equal value in return? The truth is, if you’re in a relationship with a client who consistently takes more than he gives, you’re dealing with a swindler. An unwitting thief perhaps, but a thief nonetheless. And you’re unthinkingly abetting that theft of your own services.
Not only that, you’re an accomplice in the cheating of your family, your employees, and others who are dependent on you or have joined their life energies to yours.
In other words, not everybody is willing to make a fair exchange. They’ll want to receive from you, but won’t be interested in giving fair value in return.
Not everybody you call a client or customer really is one.
Some are thieves in disguise. Oh, most of them don’t know that’s what they are, but if it walks like a thief, and quacks like a thief….
It doesn’t make them bad people. Just unprofitable.
Are you ready to make your job more pleasant, more efficient and more profitable?
Choose your business associates as carefully as you do your personal friends. In both cases, stay away from those not going the same direction you are. This is just another way to raise your awareness and your mental vibrations, so that more positive things can manifest in your life.
Analyze what you’re doing, who you’re spending your time on, and decide which activities are moving you toward profit. Eliminate the rest — or as many of them as you can arrange to dump. If the activity is un-dumpable, like doing your bookkeeping or sweeping the floors, take your earliest opportunity to delegate it.
Now, I know that, as a freelancer or self-employed business person, you can find it hard to turn away business. You’ve been in operation for a while, but you’ve never forgotten those hungry first days. So when a client calls, no matter how difficult they are, the temptation is to grit your teeth, accept the work and count the money.
You CAN grow as a business person, however, and unless you DO grow you’ll never get past that hungry phase. Truth is, the only way to outgrow it is to start while you’re still in it. Right now.
Just start consciously rating every prospective client who calls. Find out about them, evaluate their qualifications to work with you. And if they don’t qualify, decline their business. This alone will give you an enormous amount of power over your business life.
Got an existing client who’s giving you a hard time? Same thing. Evaluate them and decide — in or out. Keep or discard.
Of course you don’t want to make snap judgments and act too impulsively. Build a cooling down period into your system. After all, your own moods can vary from day to day, coloring your judgment more than you may realize at the time. But if, after careful, deliberate examination, a client doesn’t measure up, send him on his way so he can find someone he’s better suited to.
So yes, it’s true that the business is all about your clients. But you get to decide who’s a client and who isn’t.
And those who are not — well, your business isn’t about them at all.