Fire the client? You bet!Jeff Barrletting clients go
- Your diagnosis is not correct. You should place me on another
medication, according to the Internet.
- The retailer was tired of the customer returning items to his
- The mortgage loan officer was concerned about the real estate
agent dictating her demands on the financing of the property.
- The outside sales rep was puzzled about the treatment by the
- The accountant was being inundated with the same documents over
and over again. The client was not providing him what he needed. It
was wasting his time.
- The hairstylist remarked that the client complained about his
styling; however, the client continued to make appointments to see
the stylist in his shop.
Whether you are a doctor, retailer, loan officer, salesperson,
accountant or hairstylist, there comes a time to let the client go
gracefully. As the economy continues to sour, every customer has
significant meaning. Clients are the bread and butter of any
business. In most industries, competition is keen. So why dismiss
your prospect or customer, whom you have often worked long and hard
to cultivate? Here are some considerations to remember in your
long-term success and profitability:
- Networking is still one of the best ways to cultivate
relationships. However, you may be working the wrong crowd and
doing more harm than good.
- Unreasonable customers breed unrealistic expectations that allow
for no-win situations for the salesperson. For example, consider
not working with a real estate agent that brings marginal borrowers
for your guidance, only to find the situation impossible for anyone
to succeed in it.
- By working with an irrational customer, the opportunity to find a
more enduring customer is lost. For example, handling the
complaints of one client may result in a missed opportunity via
e-mail or telephone.
- Many clients are confused by advertisements. They do not
understand the generalities of the ad. They do not meet the
criteria necessary to qualify for the loan, promotion or
requirements for the job. This may happen with a 60-second radio
commercial with a bank promoting a product with well above average
credit as opposed to the marginal credit that many prospects often
have. They do not qualify - period.
- A doctor is a professional who works to promote the health and
well being of the patient. This craft requires many years of
training and expertise. Advising the doctor how to treat his
subject is another example of the patient overstepping their
bounds. Too often, with all of the Internet and periodicals
available to the customer, they have now become the new empowered
- Many prospects and clients drag their feet looking for a better
deal. That program often does not exist. Oftentimes, for piece of
mind, it may be better to let the client go and hunt for other
- The client should be at ease. Therefore, numerous phone calls on
the same matter should not be made. Diplomacy is paramount.
However, sometimes it is necessary to "fold 'em" instead of "hold
- Customers can be remiss in providing documents. This can cost
extra time, money and manpower. A lack of or withholding
information can contribute to a more difficult customer and less
profitable situation. Weigh the benefits and costs of maintaining a
The suggestion here is not to dismiss customers at the drop of
the hat. The idea is that the professional hairstylist, doctor,
accountant, loan officer or sales executive deserves the respect
they have earned. Their time is valuable. It is necessary to
clearly assess the benefits of maintaining the relationship with
the prospect or client. No matter what your vocation may be and no
matter how difficult the times are, sometimes it is all right to
fire the client.
Jeff Barr is a competent toastmaster and speaker in
Louisville, Ky., an adjunct professor of communications at the
University of Louisville and a mortgage loan officer. He can be
reached at (502) 777-9555 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.