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Time to Change the Sofa?

Last updated April 18, 2012

What is that trigger point when you decide you need to change the sofa, the car, your job or your perfume?

I’m not sure that I know, but trust me there is always a point in time when it’s time for a change. Perhaps it’s the familiarity; it’s always the same, nothing new to look forward to, so predictable – who knows. But, you will know when it’s time to change.

And in our businesses the same ‘need to change’ also creeps up on us. We put up with a situation, a person or an issue for so long and then suddenly we recognise that the only way to move forward is to shift that proverbial sofa, rather than continue to sit on it doing the same old thing!

Working with a client recently we dealt with just such a situation. The problem – a client – not a large one but not small either. Here the client was a real time bandit - hourly phone calls with a forceful nature. Definitely one of those clients where a little knowledge is a dangerous thing! The type of person who sets the hares running – the latest great new idea that needed solving right now. But at least he paid his account on time!

This persons actions were beating the team up, misery would descend and nothing was ever good enough. My clients question was ‘What do I do to stop this behaviour? I know I can do a great job for this client if he would just let me get on and do it’.

If you are in this situation then ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you really make any money or profit out of this client?
  2. How much ‘free’ work are you doing just because they shout the loudest?
  3. What is the real impact on you, your team and your other clients?
  4. What would your business, and your life, be like without this client?

As expected my client didn't really make any money, in fact, they ‘paid’ the client to do work with them. Negative impacts and demoralised staff, other clients were being pushed down the priority list and you can bet that they are feeling a little un-loved too. And there were no referrals forthcoming to offset this cost!

If this client moved on, what would the new world look like? Well, less stress, tension and reduced fire fighting. More time to look after other clients. More time to work on the business. More time to develop new products/ services and generate new and profitable clients. In fact, the world would be a much better place.

So, what are the options?

  1. No change, but no profit and loads of stress and an increased risk of losing other clients.
  2. Address the clients’ behaviour – but can a leopard really change its spots?
  3. Move the client away in a professional way.

Big smiles on my clients face when he realised that he could move the client on just like he would the old sofa.

First you need to make sure that you have considered all of the options, carefully, and make the right decision for your business. If you decide that the very best option is to change the sofa then here are some points to consider.

  1. Check the contract – don’t breach it, but work within the terms and conditions.
  2. Set out your reasons so that you have clearly thought them through. You can use these as notes for the meeting but just for you to see!
  3. Set up a face to face meeting with the client – you owe then that.
  4. Talk to the client and explain the situation clearly and firmly.
  5. Establish your 100% win and calmly and carefully win your client over to moving on.
  6. Establish a phased withdrawal or date to cease the relationship depending on your type of business.
  7. No personal comments allowed, to anyone, ever.
  8. Help the client to make a smooth transition to their new supplier.

Finally sit down and assess what you have learnt from the whole process. Learn from your mistakes, dust yourself down and go and create great value for someone else and income for you!

How has your business benefited from moving a client on?

shirley-mansfield-CoachSME
Shirley Mansfield
Master Business Problem Solver

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