Life’s too short to have bad clients…

September 6, 2010Post by Laura Humphreys

Had another great Q&A Skype session with a small group of clients on Friday. It is very pleasurable to be able to facilitate business people in good healthy discussion about some of their business issues. This week the group talked at length with the owner of an accounting franchise who found herself with an unhelpful number of ‘difficult’ clients. By difficult, she revealed that these clients don’t want to pay, want a cheap job and have even tried to bully her into charging lower fees. Her question was “how do I attract more quality clients?” We asked her to define a quality client, and really her needs were not unreasonable. She wanted clients who wanted to pay a fair price for good work, who provided quality information in a timely fashion and with whom she enjoyed working. We then asked her if she had many clients like this already and she was happy to answer that she did. So we suggested that she survey her top client group, the ones she’d like to have more of, and ask them for feedback on her business – the good, the bad, the ugly.. and the lovely stuff they felt they could rave about. We suggested she offer a prize draw to increase participation in the survey and also to develop a referral incentive so that she could also ask for referrals from these clients. The best way to get more like-minded clients is to ask your existing ones if they know people just like them. And to reward them for their effort.

You cannot underestimate the power of a good survey. My business partner in Pet Angels, Lisa and I surveyed the 2000 people on our database last month. We used survey monkey ( which made it easy for clients to complete and very professional, with multi-choice tick box answers as well as space for comments on various themes. We had impressive participation in the survey and were thrilled with the positive feedback we received, which we were able to then use as testimonials. We learned what our clients love and where we can improve on a few things, and we had a dialogue with our clients which gave us a human, caring face too.

Our accountant friend left the Q&A session with some clear action steps to help her re-engineer her client base into one she would profit better from and enjoy a whole lot more. The first of those steps of course was to fire the whiners, scrooges and bullies to make way for the myriad of good, reliable and fair new clients just waiting to hear from her. We asked her if she felt OK about writing to those clients who didn’t come up to scratch and politely informing them that she would no longer be able to help them. We could hear the smile in her voice when she replied, “Yes, I feel very OK about that!” Good job!