By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd
The next client has got to be of the worst kind. They are the clients that are really stressful to work with. In many ways they are the most fabulous clients to have – they pay on time, they don’t quibble about the price, there’s always work coming in and the work itself is exciting and it stretches your mind. It’s challenging and a pleasure to do. So what’s the problem, I hear you asking? Well for me it is when I don’t particularly like the client as a person. They are usually unpleasant, difficult to work with, rude and over bearing. They have no respect for what you do, yet would not be able to do it themselves, which is why they hired you in the first place. They impose ridiculous deadlines and feel that they have the right to call you any time of the day and night and that you should be at their beck and call. Quite simply put they are exhausting.
When you are caught up in this merry-go-round, you will need to think very carefully about whether or not you want to continue this relationship – if you do, you will need to set very firm ground rules. One of my colleagues does it by charging double time for anything that she has to do after hours and that includes taking telephone calls. They soon learnt not to call her after hours.
Whatever the reason – before you fire a client, you need to sit down and ask yourself some questions. Are you ok about losing the client? Would you be able to work with them again if you had some sort of break with them? Would you consider doing any future work with them?
The answers that you give yourself would clearly make a difference on how you went about actually firing the client.
Here’s the thing – screaming and shouting, swearing and slamming the phone down, storming out of the office and saying things in the heat of the moment, is not the way to do it – remember you are supposed to be a professional person.
Not returning messages, phone calls, e-mails and just ignoring them until they go away is just plain rude – also not the way to do it.
Then of course you are just too busy and you will be too busy for the rest of your natural life. For me this is also not the right way to go about it. For me it’s about being upfront and honest about it. It’s about being professional and dealing with the problem in a mature manner. Let’s be honest, often the client will not even know that they are being a royal pain in the butt. If you show them and explain to them what the problem is, and they are equally mature about things, there may even be a way to salvage the relationship.
If you can’t, or if (as in the case of a friend who ended up being threatened by the client) they don’t want to or you realize that you don’t want to keep them either – then it’s time to walk away. Don’t walk away angry – learn from the experience and just walk away. Remember the Universe is a funny old place and as one door closes, somewhere another opens.
Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za