Too Many Clients

While some of my clients would love to have this problem, many of the professionals I work with who have been at it for years actually complain that they have too many clients, and they are concerned that they can’t service all of them adequately.

But the real problem isn’t that there are too many clients; it’s that we try to treat them all in the same way.

Every professional with a large clientele knows that there is just a handful who they love—the “A+”s—and then, there are a range of clients behind those, who are: “really good clients”, “good clients”, “okay clients”, and “the duds”.

The truth is, every client and former client deserves attention, but they don’t all necessarily deserve the same level of attention.

If you have more clients than you can comfortably handle, consider taking these steps:

1. Segment your list of clients into categories based upon criteria you’ve established for them:

A+ Clients (Platinum Club Members) could be your absolute favorites.

A Clients (Gold Club Members) might be those really good clients who take your advice, refer their friends and business associates to you, and have entrusted you with all of their work.

B Clients (Silver Club Members) might be missing some of the “A” qualities.

C Clients (Bronze Club Members) could basically just be customers who do happen to take your calls and don’t happen to be a bother.

D Clients (The Duds) are probably the ones you never hear from until, out of the blue, they’re demanding that you take care of something for them immediately.

2. Fire your “D” Clients. In the beginning of our careers we take on clients even when we know they’re going to be “D”s, because we need the work and think we shouldn’t turn any business away.  I coach professionals who are just starting out to turn down business if it isn’t right for them, but most of my clients come to me after they have already accumulated a long list of duds.  As long as my clients’ clients continue to be “D”s, they are an energy drain, and worse, they are potential liabilities.  I teach people to just get rid of them.

3. Automate your service to the “A”s, “B”s, and “C”s. Maybe you’ll check in with the “C”s once a year and send them birthday and holiday cards.  For the “B”s, it might behoove you to follow up twice a year with coffee visits, and not to forget a birthday phone call.  The “A”s should get quarterly calls and visits, and a small birthday gift.  All of these can be scheduled right into your contact manager, so you can be sure not to miss anyone.

4. Give the “A+”s the keys to your Lake House. When an “A+” client introduces friends to you, there is an increased likelihood that those friends will be stellar to work with.  Spend your time, energy, and money on your best clients, and the result will be more referrals and more “A+” business.

If you’ve been avoiding these steps because the initial work threatens to be time-consuming, pause to recognize the huge benefits of sharpening your client base, even just a few clients at a time.

Contact me if you’d like help getting a “service system” going for your clients.  In the meantime, keep REACHING…


Sybil Holland says:

This is so interesting, Sandy. I just this week turned down the opportunity to photograph a Bat Mitzavh because, on reflection, I realized the family was too high maintenance, would be difficult to work with, and impossible to satisfy. “More clients” is not always the answer – even in these economic times.
Thanks, Sandy. I always find gold nuggets in your blogs!
Sybil

Sandy Schussel says:

Sybil,

Thanks for your comments. Taking on a client because you need her, even while you’re seeing clear signs of potential disaster, is the wrong approach at any point in the development of a business or practice. But it takes courage to say “no”, especially when you have bills to pay. The model most of us follow is that a prospective client is auditioning us. The better model is that we are also auditioning the client.