When it comes to getting clients in your seo business, you’ll no doubt, end up attracting all sorts. Those that pay early (rare), those that pay late, and those that don’t pay at all. Then there’s those that whinge about anything and everything including the most trivial of matters. Then of course there’s those that take off on holidays in the middle of a project and others that will email you 2,916 times a day.
I could go on, but I think you get my point.
Something I learnt quickly from the start was that I had to “prequalify” my clients better during the initial meeting, but I'll touch more on that in just a bit.
For now, the harsh reality is you gotta get smarter about who you choose to work with – or else you’ll be packing your bags and heading back to full time work.
Now don’t get me wrong. Its not all bad. Some clients are fantatsic. They pay on time, they’re more than polite and they always make their best efforts to help out. Others however, are just plain aggrevating. It’s no denying that any type of business can be difficult to run when you’re working with painful clients. Especially those that make your job harder than it needs to be.
That’s why you need to start firing them.
That’s right. Put on your best Donald Trump wig, get on the phone right now, call them and say ....“You’re fired!”
Now it may not seem logical from the outset. Infact it probably doesn’t make much sense to suggest getting rid of clients at all, but let me tell you – more clients doesn’t necessarily always mean more money. It might just mean more frustration. That is of course, if you don’t take my advice.
Building a good client base.
Lets face it. Building a client base is part of any successful business. However when clients become more of a liability than an asset, it's time to get rid of them. Firing a client can in some ways, help to grow your business.
Below, I'm going to take a closer look at 4 types of clients that you must simply avoid at all costs – or, if it's too late and you’ve already begun pulling your hair out - fire them immediately! Your business depends upon it, and so does your sanity.
Here they are, 4 types of clients you gotta fire today!
This is the all too common client that wants to negotiate the price on a packet of 30 cent chewing gum at the local service station. Typically there’s lots of face scrunching and head scratching when they look over your quote. Followed by “Gee, I dunno…$2,000 a month seems like quite a lot. My brother in law said it should cost about $180”.
These types of clients are the worst. Just thinking about them annoys me. To me, there’s nothing more insulting than someone questioning my rates, my worth, and then asking me to justify my pricing. I find it quite rude. Anyone who starts “haggling” the pricing structure of your quote is definitely someone you want to avoid at all costs And of course, if it’s all too late, and they’re already annoying you with continual “too expensive, got no money...” type emails, then fire them now!
The Egotistical Moron.
I consider myself a professional, and I run my business accordingly. I purposely left my full time job and my nagging boss that enjoyed treating everyone like school children for a reason. I’ve also invested quite a lot into my education and learning so I have complete confidence in what I do. I may not be running a multi million dollar business, but to me, that doesn’t matter. I do my best, and I do it with dignity and pride.
Having said that, there’s always an armchair expert who seems to enjoy belittling you just for kicks. These are typically the clients that imply that your seo business is an insignificant little home business, where nothing is of importance. Whilst their international real estate agency of 4,500 employees stands to lose $180,000 a day if you muck something up.
They often talk down their noses at you, and make comments such as “I’ve read a few books on SEO, and I know how easy the work is, so don’t try and tell us it’s a difficult and complicated process.” Or worse still, they’ll tell you how to do your job! That I cannot stand. If you have so much knowledge, why did you hire me?
Oh boy. Seriously, I’ve experienced these types of clients myself. And in most cases, the comments they’ve made during the first meeting were enough for me to decline the work. Regardless of what they’re paying, clients that speak to you in a condescending tone, fire them.
No questions asked.
These clients are quite possibly the most common out of them all. They have this “hurry up and wait” mentality that does my head in. Often, they’ll call and start making immediate demands. “John, we need this stuff straight away, can you come in and meet with us?”
Whilst this isn't something I do a lot now, when I first started out, I would drop everything and rush straight over. So after having reorganised my day, my schedule, and sat through a 3 hour meeting, I return to my office only to then realise I’ve pretty much lost a whole day.
Then of course, once I begin the requested work that was of the “utmost importance and priority”, the client becomes strangely evasive. Especially when the invoice is due.
“Oh sorry, Glen’s not in the office at the moment, can I get him to call you back?” or “I’m really busy at the moment John, I’ll have to get back to you later…”
2 months later and I still havent heard back. And whats worse is that I either cant complete the work requested until I receive either more information from the client or I’m left with an unpaid invoice and someone making continual excuses for non payment.
I don’t know how many clients I’ve had like this that have gone seriously hot and cold in the matter of minutes. One minute they need it yesterday, then the next it seems like a distant priority.
When it comes to payment especially, have a zero tolerance policy.
This is a client that seems to enjoy calling you a retarded arsehole in every email. And for some reason in capital letters too. They usually expect you to be a physic medium with brain reading abilities – not just an seo consultant.
“No John, that’s not what I meant, you should’ve known I wanted it this way you f#@king four eyed moron!”
Seriously, I shake my head almost wishing I hadnt experienced this myself. But unfortunately I have. It’s funny how someone you are trying to actually help is calling you an arsehole in every 3rd email. Especially when you know that they’ll undoubtedly follow up months later asking for more help – but this time they have to be “overly nice” to compensate for being so rude.
One thing I don’t tolerate is abuse. I don’t care who it is or what it's over. If I've made a mistake, then let's be professional about it. Ask me to correct it, but do it in a mature way. There's no point in name calling. What, ...are we still in pre school? This is most definitely someone to fire.
You know what to do - go on, fire away!
And lastly, in summary. Remember, firing clients isnt easy, and its not something any of us want to do. But the longer you hold onto these dead weights, the longer you and your business will suffer. Get rid of them and make way for good, decent clients who appreciate you and the value you bring to their business. Whilst the process might be hard, in the end you’ll be much happier for doing so.
Oh and before I forget, "prequalifying" your client for me, typically meant, using my gut instincts during the first meeting and asking myself whether or not I would feel comfortable working with this person. I wasn't so great at this to begin with, but now I almost always get it right.
Best of luck to you.