“Get out of my office and never darken my door again” is not a phrase you would expect to hear from a supplier – but perhaps it’s time to start saying that to some of your clients?
When I first started out in business I got very busy, very quickly. By busy, I mean I was working long hours and really giving my customers my pound of flesh.
‘Nothing wrong with that’ I hear you say. But it began to dawn on me that some clients I was sinking a hugely disproportionate amount of time into, they didn’t want to pay for anything and when I finally got an invoice out to them they would drag their heels in paying me.
But they were my clients and I was scared to let them go. After all – I was very busy.
This went on (for several years I’m ashamed to say) where I always found myself owed a lot of money and owing the bank a lot of money – which was costing me money.
So I had a cull.
I started to get tough with my ‘problem clients’ and started to ask them to agree to things in writing. I’d stop working for them the second they breached the agreement we had made and I started to log my time and present it to them at every stage of the project so they could see a ‘running total’ of costs.
Do you know what happened?
Very quickly my bank account started topping up and my overdue accounts started going down. I also started getting home at a sensible time.
The ‘deliberate’ time wasters disappeared and good riddance to them, they are now someone elses problem, but the ‘good clients’. The ones who appreciated the work I did for them stayed, many of which are still clients nearly a decade on.
Now, this might not sound like ‘marketing advice’ but I’m a great believer that how you conduct yourself with your customers helps people form an impression of you and your company and in my mind, that is part of creating a brand and is as important as having an eye-catching and consistently used logo.
Not only that, it’s far better to work with people who appreciate your efforts.
Now, today’s homework class: write a list of your ‘problem clients’ and start the process of ‘puppy training’ as my business partner likes to call it.
We have loads of advice on processes that can be used to keep your customers in check. Let us know if it is of interest and we might start a mini master class on the blog.