I recently had to lay down the law with a client.
And ultimately when they couldn’t comply were fired.
I don’t like firing clients.
But in this case, it was a huge stress dump and all my team members cheered.
Early on in my entrepreneurial career (which goes back 25 plus years) I was taught the customer is always right.
Well, that only goes so far. There are customers that no matter what you do, no matter what price you give them, no matter if you treat them like a King or Queen they need to get a boot up their you know what. Those are the types of customers that will drag you down, beat you up on price, nag you until you want to scream and create so much stress that your team is ready to kill you.
Well this particular client…
- had not complied with the payment plan,
- delayed the project by 2 months,
- one of their team members criticized and disrespected my team member,
- would reach out via chat late at night expecting rapid and coherent answers
- and wanted us to create a stress free experience for them while they created a stress induced experience for us.
Well that same team member who criticized my team member sent us ill-advised instructions on multiple occasions causing myself and my team about a dozen hours of time wasting, energy draining, stress inducing heartaches.
At first I didn’t see it, or maybe I just didn’t want to see it.
This was a client I’ve known for a long time.
This was a client who teaches others how to communicate and be better entrepreneurs.
And, this was a client who was driving my team absolutley nuts.
My team was ready to jump ship.
They couldn’t take it anymore.
The job was so far out of scope now and the client kept making demands, would question everything we were doing and were pushing us to get the project done even though they delayed it.
It felt like a no-win situation.
- Do we continue on knowing the client controls us?
- Maybe, my team quits
- We possibly don’t get paid.
- Tell the client enough is enough,
- Keep team members happy,
- My client quits and we don’t get paid.
I thought well, we wasted months on this project and probably won’t get paid either way…so let’s take the money off the table.
Now the decision was, do we make the client happy or do I keep my team happy?
My team comes first and sadly I forgot that.
My team has been with me through thick and thin and some, if asked, would take a bullet for me. And that probably would be more pleasant than dealing with the current client.
So as I reviewed everything that had transpired with this client over the many months I realized it came to respect.
The client didn’t respect me, my team, our time or our expertise. But they certainly wanted me to apologize for the all the pain they thought I was putting them through.
So I reminded the client that in order to move forward they had to follow these 4 rules. And if they couldn’t accept these rules they would be fired on the spot.
- Respect Me – sending messages through chat, text, email or services like Asana, Basecamp or Trello can heighten the miscommunication and cause arguments, leaving a voicemail with your concerns or taking a few minutes to call me and talk shows you respect and value me.
- Respect My Team – my team is an extension of me, if you or any member of your team insult any member of my team you are insulting me…that doesn’t fly with me.
- Respect Our Time – making us wait for the materials then blaming us for the delay, having your team members give us wrong information, changing the scope then saying that was your vision all along…doesn’t bode well at all.
- Respect Our Expertise – questioning us over every detail, saying you are reaching out to others to get their opinion or telling us how to do our job is not respecting our expertise.
Well, the client instead of just accepting these rules, started nit-picking over the validity of these rules. Then the client wanted to re-hash everything that they felt slighted on and why their employee took the action they did. I said, “Can you follow my rules?” The client started back on the excuses. I said, “I’ll take that as a no!” The client basically dismissed what I said. I finally said “Enough is enough, you’re fired!“
My team cheered.
Hey, the client will probably never send the balance due on the account, but we gained our sanity back. We now have more time to devote to clients who truly respect us. And, we feel like a team again.
Rob is affectionately known as “Mr. Sarcasm” to his friends - to everyone else he’s a Certified Digital Marketing Strategist, a Foremost Expert On Specialized SEO, a Best Selling Author, Podcaster, Speaker and Authority Broadcaster who can help amplify YOU to your audience.
Rob has authored, coauthored or produced over 36 books covering social media, search engine optimization, podcasting, copywriting, personal injury law, weight loss, military law, life lessons, scams, sarcasm, customer service and more. His book clients include lawyers, speakers, doctors, real estate professionals and more.
Rob is also host of The E-Heroes Interview Series available on Apple, Amazon, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify & many other podcast channels. Rob works inside corporations across the globe, helping companies generate new revenue and capture online business.
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