Freely Fire Bad Customers

Feb 3, 2015 | Branding Strategies

It’s ok to fire bad customers. Actually, it’s great to fire bad customers.

Bad customers are holding you back. They’re sucking the life out of your company. They’re preventing you and your team from doing great work for great customers. They are hurting your brand.

Don’t let this happen. Fire them!

You’ll be so glad you did.

Bad Customers Are Time Vampires

Bad customers cause nothing but grief.

They’re not only time sucks, they are productivity and energy drains. They drain you and your team of your precious resources and prevent you from accomplishing your goals.

Bad customers are time vampires.

You try to please them. You try to do your best work, and you put your best people on the case. But it doesn’t matter.

Get rid of these vampires, or they will drain you until you’ve got nothing left to give.

Golden Handcuffs Are Still Handcuffs

Firing customers is counterintuitive, especially when they are big customers.

A customer may generate a lot of revenue for your firm, but that doesn’t make it profitable or beneficial for your business. These bad customers are tolerated because they are big.

Golden handcuffs are no reason to keep a bad customer. They are still shackling your company and holding it back.

Fire them!

Know the Signs of a Bad Customer

There are definite warning signs it’s time to fire a customer:

  • Contrary values: The customer’s values are contrary with your company and its values. There is an inherent gap between your two worlds. You will never be able to bridge this gap. Get rid of customers that don’t share your values.
  • Rude to your people: Customers who treat your team like garbage need to go. Rude and unprofessional behavior does not need to be tolerated. You wouldn’t accept this behavior from a staff member, you don’t have to accept it from a customer.
  • Never ending requests: Sometimes you have accounts that just keep taking and taking. They’re not interested in a win-win relationship. They’re only interested in themselves. If these customers are no longer profitable or desirable, fire them.

These are some of the obvious signs, but you will intuitively know you’ve got a bad customer.

One of my early detection signs is when I am stewing endlessly on one client. If I find I am venting and holding onto a bad customer night and day, and it’s conflicting with my personal life, I know I need to act.

Find your early detection system so you can get rid of bad customers before they become a problem.

Fire Humanely

As much fun as it would be to put on a Donald Trump wig and say, “You’re fired!”, don’t do it.

The business world is a small world. It’s never wise to burn bridges or behave badly.

Give your bad customers a way out. Refer them to another option. Give them terms so they can transition their business smoothly. Do what is right to terminate the relationship cleanly and reasonably.

“Sell fast, fire fast.”

Hiring Managers have a great saying, “Hire slow, fire fast.” And the idea can be adapted to your business.

Ok, selling slow is dumb. You want and need velocity in your sales funnel, but you also need the ability to eject customers that don’t fit. “Sell fast, fire fast.”

There’s no reason to hold onto a bad customer. Get rid of them as quickly as you can.

Sticky Brands are not one size fits all brands. They are clear about who they serve and how they deliver value. And if you ever get a customer that’s not the right fit, it’s perfectly fine to terminate the relationship so you can focus on the right customers.

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Jeremy Miller

Top 30 Brand Guru

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