In your business, you might be eager to take in anyone. What you have to realize, however, is that some clients are more trouble than their worth. More so, some are even agency wreckers. Here’s who to avoid.
You’ve decided to start a service-centered business. Congratulations and blessings on this incredible journey! There are several recommendations that coaches and fellow entrepreneurs will offer you to not only start successfully but to also increase your success along the way.
Some of these include:
- Start by focusing on your strongest offerings
- Develop a repeatable process
- Implement a scalable system
All of these are extremely important, but from my experience I’ve learned that in the professional service industry–more than any other in my opinion–your business is only as good as your clients.
Yes, initially you might not have much of choice in the matter, but eventually you’ll get to a place where carefully selecting your clients will be one of the most important parts of your business model.
That being said, here are the five client types you don’t need and how to identify them:
1.) Ideas; No Action
These are the individuals who may have an idea for a business, but don’t have a single wheel in place to actually get it started (obviously if your particular service is start-up coaching then this is your ideal client).
- Doesn’t have a business plan
- Doesn’t have any investors or funding and doesn’t seem to have any urgency acquiring any
- Doesn’t have enough funds to launch the business, “yet”
- Wants you to do work for them even though the business is at conceptualization
- Won’t offer you money, but will offer you “a partnership when it is established”
I’m not saying that one day the idea won’t actually become a reality. I’m saying that for most service-based industries—like marketing and public relations for example—a client at this stage won’t work out.
Politely decline your involvement until they have proof of the business becoming a serious reality. If you’re adamant at jumping in simply because it’s an opportunity then I have to ask you a hard question: how incapable are you at getting clients willing to pay that you’ll quite possibly waste your valuable time and give away your methods?
2.) Slow Pay; No Pay
When it comes to protecting your assets and your necessities, avoiding clients who are consistently late on payments–or who don’t pay at all–is a must.
- Even under contract and late fees is consistently late on payments
- Makes constant excuses about why the money is tied up
- Says, “The check is lost in the mail”
- Doesn’t have an alternative method of paying employees or contractors in case of trouble
The truth of the matter is that you’re running a business. Remember the saying, “It’s nothing personal?” When it comes to getting paid, it really is nothing personal. You have provided a service, and more times than not, services once delivered can’t be taken back. Make sure you get compensated to be able to support your overhead and to put food on your table.
Not getting paid is never as simple as just not getting paid. If it continues to happen over time, eventually you’ll be staring at a large sum of money that you’re owed. Chances are you probably won’t easily recover that money without the help of an attorney, which may cause you to go in the negative on this client.
Every day that goes on makes it even harder to receive payment. Quite frankly, you don’t have time for this nonsense.
Tighten your contracts so that if payment isn’t received you can halt services until compensated. Better yet, ask for half up front and half upon completion.
3.) No Faith; No Trust
Some clients have a lot of questions and there’s nothing wrong with that. Where you’ll run into problems is with clients who have a lot of questions stemmed in an honest lack of faith and trust.
- Constantly questions the value of your expertise
- Constantly questions the value of your strategies, even when previously agreed upon in contract
- Goes through periods of trust and non-trust, even though you’ve consistently provided results
Like another other relationship, with no faith or trust there really is no point in working together. It’s as simple as that.
Make sure you secure a contact person for your clients. They should be your go-to for any questions or approval and they should have the authority to accomplish both. But if the necessary decision makers you’re dealing with are consistently unreachable then you could experience some unnecessary hardships.
- Doesn’t respond to emails, no matter how urgent
- Doesn’t respond to phone calls or voicemails, no matter how urgent
- Doesn’t respond in a timely enough manner to allow you to effectively achieve your job
The danger you run into by working with a client like this is the margin for error. If you can’t reach them when you need them the most then you’re not going to be able to use your best judgement on the issues they understand the best.
Your reputation is at stake with these clients hanging in the balance. This is especially true in the public relations realm. If you have a reporter who’s interested and you can’t get them the necessary information in time because your client is unreachable, your reputation will lose points faster than your credit score.
Last and not least is the thief—the person who hires you with the intention of stealing your methods.
- Demands in-depth instructions regarding your internal processes
- Demands to know your technology and how to use your technology
- Requires information outside your contract
This particular client could ruin your business. You know in your gut when a client is asking for too much information and if you don’t say know, you could give them enough to have their internal staff take your job and mimic your methods. Even worse—they could turn your methods around and start a competing business.
The money isn’t worth it in this case, especially with the fate of your business’ livelihood on the line.
Here’s to a better, more enjoyable agency,