6 Clients You Need to Fire Now
Many of us hold the mistaken belief that the more clients we have, the more money we make. That is a myth that does not serve us well. My first great breakthrough on my quest to become a multi-million dollar producer was that, to get to the next level, I needed to fire the deadwood out of my client list. The first year that I did this, I was finally able to break into the seven-figure territory. Pruning the client list allows you to better serve your good accounts and to fully realize their potential. It also allows you to be filling your prospect pipeline with more good prospects and do a better job of getting into the types of clients that you want. Here are some of the clients you might want to fire.
1. “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” OK, I realize probably nobody under 40 years old understands that reference to a "Popeye" character (Google it and find some YouTube videos if you don’t understand the reference). Usually, they were the big clients, but there were people who were constantly asking for no-profit or at-a-loss favors from me today with the promise of the big order tomorrow. Guess what: Tomorrow never comes. If your client is unwilling to allow you to charge a fair price for even the smallest order or favor, let them go. Fire them.
2. They won’t pay you on time. If your customers won’t pay you within your terms, they have broken the contract. Let them go. You have a responsibility to your suppliers to pay them according to terms. You have to pay your employees every pay day. Payment terms are called terms because they are the basis of your agreement. If you agree to longer terms than the traditional 30 days, that is your business. But if your terms are net 60 or net 90, and the client is still not paying within those terms, fire them.
3. “Thanks for the recommendation and the six samples and the design, I think we’ve figured out what we want now, so I’ll just have to get a couple other quotes from other agencies.” First of all, shame on you for not making it clear that your research, your artist and your samples do not come free. Include a statement on every quote or proposal that you own the ideas and designs that you submit, and that services such as samples and freight for them will be billed if the client chooses to source elsewhere. Base your hourly rate on what your overhead is and quote it. State clearly that your price includes all of your development charges. The first time they do this to you, send them an invoice for your time and charges. The second time or the first time they don’t pay you for your work, fire them.
4. You feel your stomach tie into knots every time they call or you call on them. Since this is a family publication, I’ll need to alter the wording of one of my longstanding principles: ”Life is too short to deal with sphincter muscles.” If someone makes you feel uncomfortable because of the way they treat you and other people, fire them!
5. They do not treat you or your people with respect. You are only a vendor, a necessary evil to them. They withhold information and don’t give you enough background in order for you to do the best job possible for them. They won’t share their budget, and make you guess at what they want, why the want it and when they need it. If they swear at you or an employee or show no respect for your professionalism, fire them.
6. They don’t let you make a fair profit. I fired a company after they spent more than $2 million with me. They wanted to dictate profit margins and payment terms, and wouldn’t agree to pay for my creative and project expertise. A good friend of mine also fired an account whose brand name would make most of you salivate. Why? Because they set up everything in their favor. You need to know what you are worth, and you need to know the profitability of each account. If they won’t let you make what you are worth, fire them.
Just fire them if they are not letting you make money. Focus on your great clients and grow within their companies. Find companies that are listed as “Great Places to Work.” In my experience, if they treat their employees well, they will also treat their suppliers well. Remember why you are in this business. Have fun, build relationships and get paid for the value that you create.