“You’re dead to me.” This is the signature snub Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary spouts when an entrepreneur turns down his offer. But just as the unfortunate few who hear that phrase stick to their guns and walk away, so must you also.
Not every customer is a good one. The customer really isn’t always right, and it might be time to let some of your existing customers follow through on their threats to leave.
Here are my remaining 3 tips to help you through the transition. If you missed the first 3, click here.
1. Build the business that you want to own.
Fix what’s wrong. You don’t want to scale the wrong model. It gets tougher to turn a larger ship.
I heard on a Robin Robins CD a while back that if you are lying in bed thinking about someone, whether client or employee, and you’re not in a relationship with them, you should fire them. Trust me, you’ll sleep better.
Bad clients can be those who don’t pay their bills on time, pester your tech staff for insignificant problems constantly, skip QBRs, constantly price shop you, and so on.
However, some of these can be easily fixed by:
- Moving to auto-payment methods like CC or ACH. Prepayment for hardware, etc.
- Leveraging an RMM with auto-remediation and client training for those level-one problems.
- Add value to your QBRs with budgeting, lifecycle management and business discussions about relevant issues in their industry segment. Get to know their business really well.
2. Let bad clients fire you.
What? No, I’m serious. Sometimes we hang on to bad relationships. They know it’s bad and so do you, but no one wants to admit it. If I had to guess (and speaking from personal experience), I would say that they probably don’t regularly attend business reviews—either through your lack of diligence in scheduling them or in bringing value to them.
But don’t speculate. If you can, try to arrange an exit interview to learn if, where, and why you failed to meet and exceed their expectations. If you screwed up, admit it. If possible, make it right. And either way, don’t do it again.
3. Take the relationship beyond vendor/client.
You can learn from each other and grow together. A partnership dedicated to mutual success will build quality lasting business relationships, and you’ll be amazed at the referrals that come in.
If you can save a failing relationship, you may learn a lot, and come out better and stronger and with a better relationship. And remember, they’re called growing pains for a reason. Above all, communicate, communicate, communicate.
Stuart Bryan founded I-M Technology, LLC with his partner in 2003. I-M Technology, LLC is an MSP in CT serving Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
You can find more ideas for handling client relationships in the Ultimate Guide to As-A-Service Part 5: Transitioning Existing Clients.