High maintenance clients are a problem and are commonly referred to as the clients from hell. Clients from hell can be your first major downfall as a small business that will leave you leaping directly into a never ending downward spiral of financial burdens.
Here are a few tips to help you identify high maintenance clients as well as the top reasons why you should fire, yes you are allowed to fire your clients – or not jump into a contract obligation with one.
- Penny Savers: This type of high maintenance client is someone who expects for you to deliver the world of nothing and can turn into a babysitting disaster. If money is the only thing on this clients mind – run with the wind.
- Mind Changers: This type of client can be identified by drastic and frequent mind changes which can result in you loosing money. You can avoid this by having a tight contract that explains the cost involved with making changes. Don’t make a change for free just to ’satisfy’ them – they will turn into a financial nightmare for your business.
- Avoiders: This is the client who love to chat about how you can help them but avoid phone calls or emails at all cost when it comes to down collecting owed money. Run…!
- The check’s in the mail!: This is probably the number one high maintenance client I personally run into. This is the person who claims they sent your check in the mail just to get you off their back when in reality they haven’t even thought to find their checkbook. It’s funny how instate clients claim their check is in the mail (in state mail is 1 day) yet their checks arrive two weeks later. But hey! at least they sent it right? This is a good reason why your company should have a strict billing policy with late fees attached.
- Negotiators: Sure everyone is a negotiator at some point but business is business. I typically don’t go into the local King Soopers and ask for a manager so I can negotiate the cost of the toothpaste so why shouldn’t your clients negotiate your cost?
If you run into any of these signs with your current customers or current prospects – run. I recently went into contract with a local company who signed an agreement with me. Foolishly I started on the project without a down payment. The client said on several occasions that the check was in the mail (local), two weeks later nothing. Lucky for me I have a contract and have no problem sending the account to collections. Lesson learned, don’t start work until a deposit has been received and funds verified.
You might say, “Well Sean my business survives on the chance that I will get paid or the account will turn into something bigger!”
And I say, “These types of accounts will also be the ones that cause you unnecessary hard-ache and will be the driving factor to your new years resolution bankruptcy.”
How do you avoid these types of behavioral? Keep your prices fair but don’t be the cheapest supplier or service provider. Trends show that high maintenance clients don’t have a lot of money but they expect the world. You can filter these guys out by supplying a product or service that is out of their reach financially. Typically business owners who do well in today’s world not only supply a great service for their customers, they supply the same courtesy and understanding to their suppliers and service providers as well.