FOSTERING THE SPIRIT OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP: How to fire your bad clients
By Wilfred Isak April
I know a lot of my fellow Namibians will raise their eyebrows about today’s discussion, because it is the general belief that in business we are trying to get clients. Most entrepreneurs are stressed out because of bad clients, who simply do not bother to pay their debt in time or those who fail to take the business principles into account. Take a moment and look at your clients on two different scales, a satisfaction scale and a stress scale. If the stress scale outweighs the satisfaction scale it is a clear indication that some clients need to go. I fully understand that one cannot only foresee good days in business, but there are bad days too. However, if you are consistently stressed out about the same client, then it is a clear indication that s/he needs to go. Look at the amount of time you devote to your bad clients compared to the good clients. It can really cost your enterprise millions of dollars.
Another indicator is if you are getting sick over a client, that client is definitely not in alignment with your business vision and goals. Think about it realistically when you are in business, your job is to show up and be the best in what you do. Isn’t it? In addition your goal is also to show up and give the best service to your clients. This brings us to a quote by Mahatma Ghandi: The best way to find one is to lose yourself at the service of others. This is well said and true. As an entrepreneur your role is to serve others, however if someone is causing you to hate what you do, by being in service of others. You surely do not want to deal with that person.
I would like to give you a few indicators how to get rid of your bad clients. There is always a professional and classy way of doing things in business. If you really want to uphold the image and reputation of your business and always want to be at the forefront of doing things, then try to do it in the most respectable manner even if it means firing a client. Have a genuine conversation with the troublesome client: Open communication is important. If a client calls you after office hours or late at night tell him/her assertively that you are not able to attend to business calls after hours. Let them know that you are, however, able to help them when work resumes the following day.
Play nice and find a resolution: When you fire a bad client, find someone who would like to work with your bad client. The fact that the client is not right for you does not mean s/he is not right for everyone. It is just that your personalities do not match. I am not implying that you unload your bad clients onto other people, but always try and find an amicable solution.
Be honest with your clients by telling them how s/he really makes you feel. Do not fight, or let them feel like a victim. It is about finding a solution that is equally good for you and the client. For example: tell your client “I really cannot serve you the way you would like to, however, I have a better solution for you. I would like to introduce you a most suitable business associate”.
Finally “Just do it” – like Nike; just do it once you have make up your mind. It will take a lot of stress off you. You will have more time for the clients who are meant to work with you. This can be scary I know, but it requires faith. I strongly encouraged you to walk in faith when it comes to firing clients. As you let go off things that do not serve you, look for those things that will take your business to the next level. Some of you might say that client gives me a lot of money, but if s/he is draining you it is certainly not worth it.
*Dr. Wilfred Isak April holds a PhD (Entrepreneurship) from New Zealand and lectures Research Methodology and Entrepreneurship at the University of Namibia.