As we work our way closer to year’s end, you may be asking yourself:
How much more can I reasonably get done this year?
This is a question you should ask yourself all year round, though it never seems quite as urgent as it does in Q4. Amirite?
Here’s the answer I will give you in the context of your end-of-year sprint:
Now is not the time to burn out on projects. Now is the time to fire bad clients and close the loop on that unhealthy business practice.
There are, of course, other suggestions I have surrounding this idea of closing the loop (and I’ll cover them in another post this month). Today, however, I want to focus on helping you rid yourself of those pesky clients that do significant harm to your WordPress business.
What Do Bad Clients Look Like?
There’s abundant data on the topic of how bad customer service harms the relationship you have with clients and consequently costs your business. Because we live in a customer-centric world, their needs matter a great deal more than our own well-being, at least that’s how it’s depicted when it’s talked about on the public stage.
Here’s the thing though: you and I both know that clients can be a pain in the a**. What's worse though, is that bad clients can cost your WordPress business a lot of money.
Who are these clients exactly? I have some thoughts on that:
Ghosting isn’t just something that happens to the folks on Tinder. It’s sadly an all-too-common occurrence when you work with clients whose eyes are bigger than their stomachs. Or who have a general lack of respect for anyone but themselves.
You pitch them your services, they act super-enthusiastic about working together and even the freelancer contract gets signed. Then, they’re gone. Or maybe they don’t even sign the contract. Either way, you’ve wasted your valuable time on pitching to them and, now, you’re probably going to waste more time trying to follow up and find a way to reach them. After all, they were interested, weren’t they?
The Bargain Hunter
Again, you meet someone who seems excited at the prospect of working with you. So you send over your proposal and that’s when their interest starts to waver. “Well, this other agency said they could do the same thing for less.” Right… And while that agency will probably take the same steps, the level of quality won’t be anywhere near what you do for them.
Honestly, the client already knows this. They just want to talk you down on price because they want a good “deal”, which means they won’t value your services when you do actually work together. You’ll spend your entire working relationship constantly having to negotiate on price or telling them “no” when they try to trick you into doing something extra.
You’ve signed a new client, and they’re excited to get started. But you’ve asked them repeatedly to provide you with content, login credentials or general information pertaining to their brand.
They keep saying: “I’ll have it to you soon.”
Or the never-encouraging: “Just keep working. We’re almost done with it.”
Eventually, you get to a point where you can’t do any more work without their content, input, or assistance. All progress on the job stops and you become swept up in tracking them down or building workarounds rather than on actively pursuing work that pays.
You’re steadily making progress on your client’s website (or doing a good job of maintaining the performance and security of their site), but they certainly haven’t made it easy. It seems like every time you get close to the next milestone, they have to push back on something.
“Can’t we use better colours?”
“I know someone who uses WPBakery and loves it. Why aren’t we using that?”
“I don’t need to waste money on a lead generation platform. Take that off of there. We’re just going to send out mailers.”
It’s frustrating. It’s not constructive. And it constantly has you on the defence because you know they’re going to have something to complain about or try to correct you on. Plus, you know this client is going to call you at the most inconvenient times because everything is urgent.
The Pickiest Indecisive Person Ever
On the other hand, you may encounter the client who can’t make up their mind. You get caught up in round after round of revisions because they can’t give you a clear idea of what they want.
For instance, you present them with some mockups and their only feedback is, “I don’t really like it. Can you show me something else?”
Your response is then, “Do you have examples of what you like?”
To which they respond, “Nope.”
Rather than trust in your expertise and skills, they refuse to move on because they’re sure there’s a better way to do it. They just want you to figure out what that is.
How Do You Fire Bad Clients?
If you’re looking to get cumbersome tasks off your plate and want to give the new year a strong start - fire your bad clients. You might be nervous about what that means for your total earnings in the year to come, but don’t be.
When you free yourself of bad clients, you can:
- Dedicate yourself to a higher quality of client.
- Work on higher value (and better paying) projects.
- Establish client relationships that build your confidence and help you improve your skills.
These are things you can’t prioritise right now because bad clients are draining you of the time, energy and motivation to do so.
So, how do you fire bad clients?
For starters, be a professional. Provide them with advanced written notice and make sure to adhere to the terms of your contract in terms of the reason for and the process by which you cancel a working relationship.
Next, don’t be accusatory. This isn’t the time to point fingers. Clearly state that this isn’t an ideal fit and that they’d be better served by someone who aligns with their interests. You can do this with prospects, too.
And, finally, thank them for their time and wish them luck. Take the high road and end on a positive note.
When you fire bad clients, you’re really only dealing with the symptom. If you want to close the loop on this unhealthy business practice, you have to put a process in place that keeps you from ever engaging with them.
- Use your WordPress site to weed out prospects.
- Audition prospects who make it through.
- Create and enforce strict contract rules with clients.
- Charge what you’re worth.
- Always collect a payment upfront.
- Keep the client accountable and their behaviour in check.
And trust your gut. If you get the sense that there’s something off in your interactions with them, don’t pursue the relationship any further. There is plenty of other fish in the sea.
If you're still looking for your dream clients, then join our free webinar today. You will learn how to win better clients, better projects and better fees - all without learning new skills! Join today and get ready to take your business to the next level.