Insights on identifying intolerable behaviors.
Clients who demand too much, pay too little and generally make our lives miserable are not unheard of - you may even have one (or more) right now. And while it may seem like tiresome clients are simply a cost of doing business, negative client relationships can take a toll not only on your sanity, but on your bottom line as well.
While sometimes it's best to just cut the cord, opinions differ about when enough is enough. Some companies like to "cull the herd" by eliminating their least profitable clients on an annual basis. This tactic seems to work best for businesses that are profitable year after year. Others "fire" clients only when they disrupt the business, although it's always best to try to resolve issues before things come to a head. Here are a few guidelines to help you determine when to say goodbye:
Unsavory Practices: Never tolerate a client's illegal, deceptive or questionable business practices that could put you or your employees in a compromising position. Your association with such individuals will inevitably reflect poorly on your own organization and its core values.
Lack of Respect: While every relationship has its occasional bumps, if your client consistently treats you or your employees poorly, berates your efforts or is prone to shouting when dissatisfied, chances are it will negatively impact morale and productivity. Do not sacrifice your professional integrity to accommodate a relentlessly rude client.
Unreasonable Requests: Some clients demand your constant attention but don't feel the need to pay for it. Revisions beyond a project's scope, new prototypes or demos by the next day, or additional work not in the original contract are costly, financially and otherwise. Prevent these issues by setting expectations for deliverables and pricing at the outset of your relationship, but when you find yourself acceding to ever-increasing unreasonable demands, consider the pink slip.
In your drive to boost your bottom line, it can be easy to forget that your customer is your partner, not your master. By cutting loose those who habitually cross that boundary, you'll be better positioned to serve those clients who bring you profitability and satisfaction.
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