It’s a common scenario for entrepreneurs and freelancers: you land a client or customer and feel like you’re on top of the world, only to quickly find that working with your new client is much more difficult than anticipated. Perhaps a little too difficult.
If you’re wondering whether to continue the partnership, examine your relationship for these 6 telltale signs that it’s time to move on. Then, download our free e-book, “5 Simple Strategies to Build Better Customer and Business Relationships to cultivate better partnerships that can propel your small business to success.
- They take more time than your other clients combined—without providing more revenue
As a business owner or entrepreneur, your time is your most valuable asset. Time is money, as the old adage goes. Therefore, if you realize that one client is consuming an inordinate amount of your time—70%, for instance—but not providing 70% of your revenue, then it’s time to consider greener pastures.
- You’re on their speed dial
With the ability to receive text messages, emails, and calls on our smartphones, it’s important to disconnect and separate work hours from personal time. Once you set those boundaries, clients must respect them.
Are they calling you at all hours or expecting you to respond to emails in the middle of the night, even though you’ve explained your “office hours”? Address the problem and if they don’t change their behavior, then you have a needy client on your hands.
- Everything is an emergency
“I need this by tomorrow!” “Can you work on it this weekend to have it ready on Monday?” Urgent requests like these are understandable every so often but not on a regular basis. If your customer or client treats every request like an emergency and expects you to drop everything to address their needs, they aren’t respecting your schedule and don’t deserve your time.
- They are uncommunicative or disrespectful
Do you email and call a customer only to hear crickets for days or weeks at a time, which prevents you from being able to deliver on your promises? Consider networking to find new customers that are more responsive. It’s worth noting as well that any customers who treat you rudely or disrespectfully have no place in your business.
Expert advice: If you do end up networking to find better customers, use these 8 tips to leave a positive first impression that lasts.
- They frequently complain about rates or try to renegotiate
For entrepreneurs who provide services, like fitness training or career coaching, rather than products, negotiating pricing (and even renegotiating) is all part of the process. This is different than a customer or client who accepts your rates at the get-go and then frequently complains that your pricing is too high later down the road. You shouldn’t feel as though you need to justify your rates in every conversation.
- Your increased pricing outstrips their budget
It is not uncommon for freelancers and entrepreneurs to start out with lower prices and then raise them slowly as they gain more experience and a stronger reputation. Some clients are not okay with this or simply can’t afford to pay more than your lowest rates. In these cases, you must make the decision whether to stick with these early clients at grandfathered rates, or politely give them notice about increased pricing and move on if they don’t consent.
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Tips to Address Difficult Customers
- If you would like to see whether the relationship can be salvaged, address the problem head on. For instance, you could explain to an unresponsive client that the lack of communication prevents you from being able to meet deadlines or provide quality service. Then, provide suggestions for improvement on both sides.
- When raising rates, explain the reasoning behind it. Sometimes customers are willing to pay more, they just want to understand why. One example: “The cost of design supplies has significantly increased and as a result, I will be raising my rates by 8% across the board to accommodate this expense. This means my rate will now be $150 per month. I’m happy to discuss any questions or concerns you may have. Feel free to email or call me at your convenience.”
- If you decide to leave a customer, try to give them a few weeks of notice and leave things on a good note. Explain that you enjoyed working with them but that you’re exploring other options for the good of your company.
Learn more about cultivating profitable, rewarding business relationships with the right customers.
Download our free e-book, “5 Simple Strategies to Build Better Customer and Business Relationships.” You’ll receive it instantly!