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The Shudder Client
— Donald Trump
Think about the one or few clients that you have that when they call they are always upset, angry, or frustrated. At our company we call these “Shudder Clients” because every time they call, we shudder. Our solution to these wonderful individuals or companies, fire them.
At 43, my book has developed enough as has my fellow agents that we are now in the wonderful place that no one account will impact us financially. It might hurt a little, but since we still prospect and are bringing in new relationships on a routine basis, we understand that it is OK to let a client go now and then.
Clients for the most part start out and are wonderful. You just helped them, they are happy, the new experience is nice, but at some point an asshole will be an asshole. Most agencies suck it up, say something like yes Master, and take their licks and then move on. If you are this agency, stop. Fire them today.
If you can’t fire them, it might indicate that you need to begin prospecting a little more so that you have the freedom to fire your lower tier clients. Successfully agencies do not have to put up with assholes.
So let me tell you about the time that I was personally fired. I had just merged my company with a larger entity and I was now “in charge” of marketing. My first step was to do a brand audit analyzing everything that we had collectively done marketing over the past 3 years. I needed an idea as to what we had done, how consistent our messages were, and where we were spending our money.
I have a very good friend that has managed my graphics and image for a number of years. When I decided upon the brand audit, I called “Jim”. Jim said no problem, collected all the needed information and went to work. Two days before my brand audit review with the other owners of the “new” company, Jim called me and said that he would not be done. He had other things going on and it would be the following week. Upon hearing that for the first time in our relationship he was going to miss a deadline, I blew.
I indicated how disappointed I was, probably used a couple of dirty words found only on the stall of a bathroom door and made sure “Jim” knew how damn upset I was. At the end of he conversation, “Jim” said, you know @, I’m pretty sure we are not going to be able to work together anymore. I was floored, the amount of money I had paid Jim over the years was substantial and now here HE is telling me to go away.
My first response was “Oh no you don’t, you can’t fire me!” His response was very simple calm and collected, I just thing we are at a point in our relationship that I cannot meet your needs. I agreed and hung up and was stunned, what the hell was I supposed to do now.
The end of the story is very positive. Jim and I to this day remain friends, but his replacement fell from the sky in a rather unique set of circumstances. Our new “director of marketing” has a different skill set than Jim, brought a different look and feel to our marketing and was honestly a change that we needed to make.
My point in telling this story is that NO ONE likes to be fired. My partner and I usually take the one step approach before we fire anyone to have that face-to-face conversation and advise that we are thinking about ending our relationship. If your client is a true professional, he or she will understand they have not been behaving properly and usually agree to stop being an asshole. If they don’t agree or continue to make you shudder, you have my blessing to FIRE THEM!
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