I hope you enjoyed last week’s conversation … it was a self-assessment, really, to see if you’re where you want to be at this point in your life/career and how to move forward if you need help.
On to this week. I recently met up with a colleague, and he related that he fired two long-term clients in the past week. And he was elated. He said, “Why didn’t I do this sooner!”
And if you’re new here, welcome aboard. This is what we do!
I think we should see other people. It’s not you – it’s me.
When these thoughts enter our mind about certain clients, it’s probably time to have the break-up talk. Without feeling fear or guilt. Because finding our ideal (aspirational) client (referral) base means occasionally pruning our current roster.
If we don’t, our work can get frustrating. Maybe our service level starts declining. And word of the decline spreads.
What better time to clean house then the 4th quarter so we can start off next year with a much cleaner slate.
Of course, the $64,000 question is: how do we know when it’s time to shed a client? Maybe if any of these reasons feel familiar …
Breakup Sign #1: Our client wants a service that we want to retire
What if we want to get out of gift/estate tax valuations or small case divorce work in favor of something more promising like exit planning? Different mindset. Different product. Different service. Different marketing.
How do we find time to make the changes if we don’t trim the clients that keep us in the game we want to leave?
Breakup Sign #2: Our client becomes too demanding
When one client (attorney) becomes a time suck, our other clients (and our family and friends) feel neglected. If we can’t go for an evening walk without our phone erupting in a barrage of after-hours text messages from this demanding client, that behavior may signal an unhealthy relationship.
Many practitioners feel they’re demonstrating dedication if they’re available 24/7. If that describes us, too often, consider that those overly demanding clients may suffocate our growth.
Breakup Sign #3: Our client makes us feel like an employee
If we feel that we can’t attend an important event because a client demands that we spend extra time on her project …
If we drain hours working on details for one client and we’re not making the other sales we need to grow our practice …
If the hours we put into one account feel as if we’d make more money from can and bottle deposits that we find in trash bins …
That means we’re working for somebody, not serving that person … or others.
Breakup Sign #4: We’re performing services that we don’t actually do
Has a client ever asked us to complete a service that we don’t actually offer? And did we do it?
While we all need to evolve and step out of our comfort zone by doing new things, that doesn’t mean we’re meant to step out of the realm of our expertise.
Breakup Sign #5: The service or relationship is no longer profitable
Anything from a shift in market dynamics, to proposed regulations, to increased cost of client acquisition may mean from one month to the next that we’re working on projects that are no longer profitable. It’s strictly a bottom line scenario.
As we prune our clients, we’ll create space to find new ones … the ones we aspire to have. Our new clients will be a better fit for us, they’ll be happier with us, and we’ll be happier with them.
You know you have those “C” clients or referral sources who you want to jettison. Yank off the bandaid already.
– If you like what I write about, tell a colleague.
– If something resonates and you want to reach out directly, email me.
– If you think we share common interests, connect with me on LinkedIn.
– If you want a sense of how well your practice is working for you, take this Practice Self Assessment.