Not Every Customer is Right for Your Business

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When I first entered the freelancing game a few years ago, I was in a position where I felt I had to take all business that came my way. I didn’t know when business might stop rolling in or when I’d hit a slow patch, so I didn’t want to take any chances on turning away business that I might desperately need later.

So as a result, I often ended up taking on clients and projects that were less than ideal. I’d take lower pay in some cases, and I’d deal with clients who were always demanding more for their money and who were just a total pain in the neck.

Over the past few years, I’ve thankfully grown my business to a point that I’m in total control of who I work with. So if there’s an abusive or just annoying customer that’s taking up too much of my time or just isn’t financially worth the hassle, I can sever my ties with them without fear of missing the money.

The thing I’ve come to realize is that not every customer is right for your business. We’ve been taught our whole lives that the customer is always right and that we should go out of our way to please every customer we come across. But that’s just not true.

Here are some common signs that a customer isn’t right for your business:

  • They want you to heavily discount your prices—There’s nothing wrong with some healthy negotiation. Customers want to get good deals. That’s totally understandable. But there’s a thin line between being a smart negotiator and being a total cheapskate who wants something for nothing. Customers who aren’t willing to pay you what you’re worth for your services just aren’t worth doing business with in my experience. Nearly every time I’ve decided to give a decent discount on my services, I’ve regretted it. Why? See the next point on this list…
  • They seem to never be fully satisfied—Some people are just never satisfied. In fact, I’ve noticed that it’s usually the cheapskates who complain the most. They want more and more while paying less and less. Look, it’s very important that you do what you can to keep customers happy. Angry customers talk. But we all know there are just some customers who will NEVER be satisfied. That’s just how they are. They live to make our lives hell. The sooner you can realize this and get rid of the client, the better off you’ll be.
  • They’re abusive—If you’ve ever dealt with an abusive customer, you know just how crazy they can get. Some customers feel empowered by “the customer is always right” mantra, so they think they can treat companies any way they want and get what they need out of it. These are the types of customers who complain loudly or who try to manipulate you and your employees to get something for nothing. Get rid of these leeches. They serve no purpose other than to bring your business down.
  • The juice just isn’t worth the squeeze—This varies on a case-by-case basis, and it’s often determined by a gut feeling. Recently, I had a client who there always seemed to be some sort of complication with. Payment would show up late or it would show up in the wrong amounts. There were a number of constant small setbacks, but when you consider them all together, it became clear that the reward just wasn’t worth the hassle.

Have you ever cut a client because you just felt they weren’t right for your business? What led you to this conclusion? And how did you go about cutting them?

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