What would happen if you fired your worst clients and invested all that extra time, delivering excellence to your most valuable clients?
I was thinking about this after recalling a chat I had, with the owner of an extremely successful accountancy business. We were both guests on a local BBC radio show and after the show, we went for a coffee. I asked her to tell me about her business and she told me about a key decision she made.
This decision was the starting point, which transformed her business from one that competed based on fees, to being ‘the’ premium provider in her area.
Firing 75% of her clients was the start of something big
She explained how after competing for a new client and losing out because of a difference of just £50, she told herself that enough was enough. She no longer wanted to serve the fee-sensitive end of the marketplace – they were the most demanding and paid the least. So, she decided to fire the 75% of her clients, who were generating just 25% of her fees. This gave her the time to deliver service excellence to the highly profitable 25%. That exceptional level of service got people talking. It saw her attract more word of mouth referrals from other highly profitable clients.
She never needed to compete for clients based on fees again.
Making the switch
Firing 75% of your clients probably isn’t the answer for you. It may be that you have just one or two clients, who undervalue your time and make you unhappy. What I can tell you for certain, as someone who works on this all the time with small business owners who are tired of being undervalued – is that you will always know which clients to fire.
I’ve seen what it does to small business owners, when they set their fees so low that they have to work too many hours, to reach their income requirement. I have also seen the stress caused, when business owners find themselves with a client base that undervalues them. No one deserves that.
- Increase your market value by offering excellence: Not great customer service. Excellence.
- Deliver excellence to your remaining clients and you will become remarkable.
- Remark-able = worthy of remarking = word of mouth.
It takes courage and the right strategy, to go from competing for business based on fees, to selling a premium service to people who truly value your time. That’s why so few business owners do it. They have not yet figured out that the riskiest thing they can do as we go into 2013, is to follow the flock.
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