#062: Dealing with High Maintenance Clients [Podcast]

If you have ever been in a service-oriented business, you have, I am sure, dealt with the “high maintenance client.” This is someone who not only has unreasonable expectations of you, but, very often, they are not happy with the work you do no matter how well it is done.

Failure in business

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Kemter

I have learned that these are clients that you simply cannot afford to have, no matter how great the opportunity appears to be.

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In dealing with all kinds of clients, I have come to three conclusions:

  1. Some people are just high maintenance. You will never going to please them. You will only deplete yourself trying.
  2. High maintenance people are a distraction. They suck up more than their fair share of resources. You can end up spending all your time on trying to please them, rather than on delivering results.
  3. They keep me from serving others. You are better off to say “no” and spend the time searching for low maintenance clients—or at least reasonable ones.

So, how do you deal with these clients? First, you must start with a client acquisition strategy. I want to share with you a simple model that I believe will make a huge difference as you build your business.

Strategic Relationship Management

  1. High-profit/Low-maintenance
  2. Low-profit/Low-maintenance
  3. High-profit/High maintenance
  4. Low-profit/High maintenance

Getting rid of high-maintenance relationships will allow you to reclaim resources you can invest in finding or serving Priority 1 relationships. Once you exit the relationship, you’ll only wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

How do you keep from getting into these relationships to begin with? The same way you keep from hiring the wrong people to work in your organization:

Hire Slow, Fire Fast.

In the courting phase, you should do the following:

  1. Discuss expectations. Write them down. Repeat them to the prospective client.
  2. Recognize the warning signs. For example, when it comes to my speaking, I get nervous when someone is:
    • Continually trying to negotiate me down on the price.
    • Attempting to add additional speaking sessions that we didn’t initially quote.
    • Trying to cut corners on expenses.
  3. Failure to follow-through on initial communication.
  4. Assess your capabilities. Make sure you can deliver on what they are asking.
  5. Check references. See what their other vendors, suppliers, or service providers say.

Most of all, don’t be afraid to walk away if it’s not a fit.
The good news is that you can better at this over time, IF you have the right client acquisition model and will focus on high-profit, low-maintenance clients.

Listener Questions

  1. Ken Davis asked, “Does a client ever become too high maintenance to deal with?”
  2. Nick Pratt asked, “What do you do when the client doesn’t want the relationship to end?”
  3. Shules Hersh asked, “Is there any time it is right to appease a high-profile, high maintenance client just to preserve your reputation?”
  4. Timothy Moser asked, “How can you break your dependency on one large client?”
  5. Travis Bowersock asked, “How do you let a high maintenance go and still leave the business relationship on good terms?”

Tip of the Week

Now let me leave you with one final tip when it comes to speeding up your iPhone. Is it running slow? Is the battery draining more quickly than you think it should?

Here’s what you can do to speed up your iPhone when it gets bogged down:

  1. Delete all your text messages.
  2. Shut down all open applications.
  3. Reset your iPhone.

That’s it! Let me know if this works for you!

Special Announcements

  1. If you are considering launching your own platform—or just getting serious about it—you need to start with a self-hosted WordPress blog.

    This is not as complicated as it sounds. In fact, I have put together a step-by-step screencast on exactly how to do it.

    You don’t need any technical knowledge. I walk you through the entire process in exactly 20 minutes.

  2. This fall’s SCORRE Conference is filling up fast! My business partner Ken Davis, who originally developed the SCORRE Conference, and I will be hosting this next conference on October 14–17 at the beautiful Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Hotel in Vail, Colorado.

    You can use the discount code HYATT and take $200 off the registration price. But this offer expires on August 15th, 2013, so you need to act quickly.

  3. My next podcast will be on the topic of “ Watch Your Mouth: How Our Words Shape Reality.” If you have a question on this subject, please leave me a voicemail message.

    This is a terrific way to cross-promote your blog or website, because I will link to it, just like I did with the callers in this episode.

Episode Resources

In this episode I mentioned several resources, including:

Show Transcript

You can download a complete, word-for-word transcript of this episode here, courtesy of Ginger Schell, a professional transcriptionist, who handles all my transcription needs.

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Question: What’s your experience been with high maintenance clients? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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