holding onto non-ideal clients reduces revenueThe cost of pleasing everyone

It’s natural to want people to think well of you. Being liked is desirable. But at what cost? Melissa, a tax preparer, is a natural people pleaser. Working with her clients, especially the ones who appreciate her, is enjoyable.  A few select clients; however, cross into the dark side. These clients are rarely satisfied with anything. During a brief conversation, she learned how holding onto non-ideal clients reduces revenue.

Melissa reluctantly admits her difficult clients exhaust her. No matter how she attempts to accommodate them, there is always “something else.” Projects extend beyond deadlines because she’s waiting for a response. Then they expect her to file before the upcoming deadline.  Basically, they expect something for nothing. Many of them are legacy clients who have been with her for years.

All clients make Melissa smile. Some make her smile when they walk in the door and others when they walk out. Non-ideal clients fall into the “walk out the door” category.

How did she end up with these clients? Like most accounting professionals just starting out she accepted all jobs, big and small. These clients gave her the boost she needed to hang her shingle. Melissa’s deep sense of loyalty (and some guilt) keeps her doing their taxes, although they are not ideal clients.

Non-ideal clients are frustrating and time consuming. #Accounting professionals hold onto them for too long. However, they reduce your #revenue. Read the post #getpaidwhatyoureworth Click To Tweet

Holding onto non-ideal clients reduces revenue

Toleration, left alone, leads to frustration and resentment.  Working with demanding, unappreciative clients is never fun. But, she doesn’t want to let anyone down.

Melissa will remain in a dissatisfying relationship for years because she doesn’t know how to step away without disappointing the other person. Conflict is always avoided – no matter what.

Compromising her needs has taken a toll on her which extends beyond work. Burnout has crept in. Can this be corrected? She finally made the tough decision to keep her ideal clients and let the rest go.

Consider how holding onto non-ideal clients reduces revenue.

From our conversation, Melissa realized holding onto non-ideal clients reduces her revenue. It’s a mindset shift. Here’s why:

  1. Acquiring new clients, whether small or large, takes time. This includes emails, proposals and setting up accounts.
  2. Unexpected scope creep and delays while waiting for client feedback throws off her timeline.
  3. Critical, unappreciative clients exhaust her.
  4. Demanding clients constantly ask for exceptions.
  5. Small changes to the work agreement never get billed.
  6. Late payments and expecting discounts is a drag.

The added frustration, delays as she’s waiting and money issues aren’t enjoyable. Is it possible to fire a client? If so, how does she let them go?

Melissa sorted all her client files. Then she graded all her clients either A, B, C, D or F. The favorites get A’s and the most painful clients get F’s.

Which clients get an F?

As she graded her clients, she started to notice specific qualities about her ideal clients.

Grade your clients to figure out your ideal client qualities. Read the full post. #getpaidwhatyoureworth Click To Tweet

Below are some items from her ideal client checklist:

  • Fun to work with and respect her opinion.
  • Trust her to get the job done without being micro-managed.
  • Value her work and happy to pay her fees.
  • Accept that fees may change with additional requests.
  • Collaborative and quickly respond to her requests for more information.
  • Work together so taxes complete on schedule.
  • Respect her expertise.
  • Repeat business and send quality referrals.

The tough stuff was next. Maintaining good feelings while avoiding bad word of mouth are important. But how?

Fire your non-ideal clients

Yes, this was unpleasant (at that moment). Melissa kept in mind that releasing headache clients will create space for new ideal clients.

  1. Deliver. Deliver the news either in person, letter or phone.
  2. Precise. Get right to the point.
  3. Inform. Inform them about your new direction.
  4. Refer. If appropriate, offer to refer them.
  5. Brief. Short and sweet. State the facts.
  6. Emphasis. Make this decision about you, not them. (no need to blame or justify).
  7. Wrap up. Thank them and wish them well.

Keep this short and sweet

Don’t make this more painful than it needs to be. This is not a long, drawn out discussion. Keep your message short and simple. Over explaining her rationale and justifying her decision, whether in a letter or conversation, only weakens her point.

Letting go of non-ideal clients is difficult. Melissa didn’t realize how draining they were until she fired them. Energy which was originally consumed with her non-ideal clients is now available to serve the clients who truly appreciate her.  Increased self worth for finally tackling something she avoided was an unexpected benefit.Are you tolerating a non-ideal client? Holding onto non-ideal clients reduces revenue.

Earn more with fewer clients

Melissa’s accounting business continues to evolve and grow. She clearly understands which clients are an ideal fit for her. Now she is in the driver’s seat and cherry picks her clients.

Because she only works with ideal clients, projects are completed on time. Revenue continues to increase although she has fewer clients. Melissa is now the CEO of her business.

Melissa released something old, primarily her beliefs about pleasing everyone, so her firm could grow.

Firing non-ideal clients increases your revenue. Read the full post. #getpaidwhatyoureworth Click To Tweet

Make it happen

We started off by exploring how holding onto non-ideal clients reduces revenue. So which clients are interfering with your success and you’re now ready to fire? Allow yourself to imagine what it would be like to only work with ideal clients who recognize your value and your worth.

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