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Jan Copley
Certified Practice Advisor
Atticus, Inc.

530 South Lake Avenue, Suite 250
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 696-3145
(626) 421-6747 (fax)
jan@copleycoaching.com

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Time to Say Goodbye – Part Two

October 7, 2011

Filed under: Clients — @ 12:43 pm

In my previous column, I spoke about firing employees. There may be some other people in your practice you need to fire: toxic clients!

I’ve written in a previous article http://www.copleycoaching.com/blog/2011/05/who-are-your-clients-and-why-are-you-working-with-them/ about how we, at Atticus, help our clients classify their clients, but I think it’s worth repeating here:

    • “A” clients are your dream clients. They pay — promptly — what you ask. They like the work you do for them. They follow your advice. They appreciate what you do. They refer their friends. You like them personally.

    • “B” clients are close to dream clients. They pay. Sometimes you have to do a little more work for them. They usually take your advice. They send referrals.

    • “C” clients are average clients. They usually — but not always — create problems. They don’t always follow your advice. They may not be as cooperative as they should be. They may be a slow pay.

    • “D” clients create too many problems and take too much of your energy to be worth working for them. They don’t pay, they try to negotiate your prices, they don’t take advice, and they don’t refer anyone to you.

If you have any “D” clients, now is the time to fire them. Don’t hang on to them hoping that somehow they will transform themselves into “A” and “B” clients. Take my word for it — they won’t. Why spend any more energy on people who are only causing you sleepless nights?

You might also consider firing all your “C” clients. Are they really worth having around? Are you making any money — that is, profit — on these retentions? If not, why are you bothering? It probably makes more sense for you to spend your time marketing for more “A” and “B” clients than working on “C” client matters.

How wonderful would it be for you if you only worked with quality clients?

Please let me know how this helps you!

What Do You Do if You Have an Unhappy Client?

June 3, 2011

Filed under: Clients — @ 12:52 pm

Try as we might, sometimes we have unhappy clients.

Every business does. The Los Angeles Times has a weekly “Small Business Advice” column in its business section. In the May 30 edition, a reader asked about training employees to handle “flak” from unhappy customers. The advice was good: make sure the employees fully understand the customer’s complaint and acknowledge it. Bosses (and lawyers) should do the same thing.

I found that this was a good way to calm down someone who was upset. I also used a second technique: I would send some token of apology to the client. There’s a new currency in this world: Starbucks gift cards! So, if you have an unhappy client, for whatever reason, send a handwritten note of apology and include a gift card. The client will appreciate the recognition of his or her problem and remember you fondly while he or she sips his or her nonfat extra dry cappuccino. And, it will give you a better chance of maintaining the client relationship.

Please let me know if this tip is helpful to you!

Who Are Your Clients And Why Are You Working With Them?

May 11, 2011

Filed under: Clients — @ 1:24 pm

Do you like all your clients? Or are there some that are just a pain? Do you have clients who cause your staff to complain? If the latter two questions are the case, maybe you want to consider some client selection criteria for your practice.

A key to your profitability — and sanity — is client selection. At Atticus, we suggest you rank your clients into “A,” “B” “C” and “D” clients as follows:

    • “A” clients are your dream clients. They pay — promptly — what you ask. They like the work you do for them. They follow your advice. They appreciate what you do. They refer their friends. You like them personally.

    • “B” clients are close to dream clients. They pay. Sometimes you have to do a little more work for them. They usually take your advice. They send referrals.

    • “C” clients are average clients. They usually — but not always — create problems. They don’t always follow your advice. They may not be as cooperative as they should be. They may be a slow pay.

    • “D” clients usually create too many problems and take too much of your energy to be worth working for them. They don’t pay, they try to negotiate your prices, they don’t take advice, and they don’t refer anyone to you.

Don’t let the wrong prices bring you the wrong clients. You may worry someone won’t retain you because he or she thinks your prices are too high. That means that person is, by definition, not an “A” client. Why would you want to work with someone who doesn’t want to pay you? “A” and “B” clients recognize the value you bring to the relationship and are willing to pay you for it, while “C” and “D” clients may not see the value and, in fact, very often try to negotiate discounts.

Set your prices to weed out the “C” and “D” clients. Your business will be far more profitable — and you and your team will be a lot happier — if you only have “A” and “B” level clients.