Why You Should Have Fired This Client Month Ago
This is something that every project manager has to deal with. It starts as a dull, gnawing pain in your brain. It then becomes a full-fledged epiphany that is eye-popping. It explodes into a complete face-palm. “We should have fired this client !!!!”
This client-firing attitude can be very difficult. Few people are brave enough fire clients. Clients are difficult to find in today’s digital agency marketplace. Clients are money! Clients are money! You must seek them out, grovel before and honor them, and do what they ask. Your lifeline are your clients!
Clients can drain your life. I don’t claim to be the best at firing clients. I am as reluctant as anyone to fire a client.
This article is possible only because I learned, sometimes too late, that I should not have fired the client a month ago. Here are some reasons you might want your client fired.
Let’s start with a story.
I used to hold on to clients like a bad habit. My first experience firing clients was when I worked in a tech startup in Seattle. (I worked remote.)
We were able to attract some very good clients — companies with strong people doing great things.
Then there are the other clients… not so much.
As client manager, I was responsible for direct communication with our point of contact. These were often other startups with just one or two employees. One of our clients demanded that our company do something completely unethical. We had a history together with the client. It was a history of handholding, unreasonable demands and spite-filled emails. This should have been a sign for us.
He wanted me to do something which was against the company’s ethical standards.
He asked me, and I replied “no.”
He demanded and I said “no”.
He raged and I said “no”.
I had a conversation with my CEO about the matter. My CEO replied simply, “Fire him!”
I thought, “Fire him!” He’s only paying $X per month! ”
But I fired him.
My life was transformed in a matter of minutes. It was amazing to see the difference. My internal compass was re-aligned, my priorities were set, the quality of work improved, and the company gained its solid footing. All because we fired an evil client.
This scenario, as described above, has repeated itself many times during my tenure as client manager. In a matter of months, I fired three more clients.
One client asked us to create a new website for him and check his email. Another client used to send cuss-you out emails whenever he was having bad days, which was almost every day.
It was difficult at first — firing a client who was paying you. It became easier over time. It was easy to see that firing clients was more profitable. We were able to work with clients that really mattered over the long-term, our productivity soared, and morale was high.
Hello, Pareto. It’s great to see you!
Pareto is a great guy for math and economics. You may have heard of him.
Pareto created the Pareto principle (no surprise), also known as the 80-20 rule. The 80-20 rule says that 80% of your success is a result of 20% of your efforts. This means that 20% of what you do will result in 80% of your results.
You’re not likely to be in the Pareto zone if you have trouble with clients. You may be spending 80% of your time and effort with 20% of your clients, the problem ones. This is not the recipe to build a successful business!
Check out this chart to see if it is true for your company. Are 20% of your clients bringing in 80%? Is it close?
But where are your most valuable clients? You are most likely wasting your valuable time with unprofitable clients.
It doesn’t have to be like this.
Keep your clients in mind! (Or not.)
Your commitment to you