You’re Fired! How To Ditch That Bad Customer Today!

You’re Fired! How To Ditch That Bad Customer Today!

Have you ever had a BAD customer?

You know the ones – your heart sinks when their number comes up on your phone. They’re a nightmare to deal with. They pay late, question every bill, nitpick your work and get all dramatic if you mention putting up your prices.

I remember one of my first customers I took on as a brand new self employed marketing consultant.

It was a man who lived around 40 miles from me, who sold industrial products. We met up to discuss working together and he told me he’d had a problem with all the other marketing consultants he’d worked with. He also insisted I brought my degree and masters certificate with me to the meeting to prove I had these qualifications. (I know, I should have known then…)

I listened sympathetically and (in my head) decided I would be the exception. I would be the GREAT marketing consultant he needed. I would save him. I quoted him a price – he said yes immediately. I was overjoyed I had  A NEW CLIENT. Yayyy!!!

Fast forward a few months when he had summoned me up to his house almost every week (and no, he wouldn’t pay mileage) because I’d made some sort of mistake or other. I dreaded his calls and emails. Everything was my fault. I was the same as the rest. That job cost me a fortune in diesel, unpaid invoices and self respect.

Something had to give before I snapped. Next time I got summoned, I spent that hour, those 40 miles, rehearsing. I decided I was going to fire him. I was scared witless and panicking (I hate confrontation and he was a bully) but I knew I had to do this for the sake of my business, my self esteem and my health…

That drive up there felt like the longest drive of my life. My heart was hammering in my chest as soon as I stepped out of the car. My voice shook and I felt unsteady on my feet but I said it. I said ‘I’m sorry, I can’t work with you any more. You’ll have to find someone else to help you.”

He was surprised, then argumentative, then angry, then abusive. But I survived. They were only words (albeit not very nice ones). I kept quiet, stayed professional and tried to let the insults slide off (easier said than done, he knew exactly what to say to push my buttons and make me feel bad).

But guess what? I did it. I fired him. I drove back home on a high, thanking my lucky stars I’d seen the light before it got even worse. I felt like I’d won the lottery.

Now, looking back I love that customer.

Why? Well, today I can see that he taught me so many lessons, and really big lessons at that. He taught me EXACTLY HOW I DIDN’T WANT TO WORK. He taught me what a BAD customer is so I’ve been able to avoid them since. He made me realise loads of things, quite early on and it’s saved me a lot of heartache since.

  • I realised I needed to be much better at managing client expectations.
  • I needed to price myself properly.
  • I needed to have proper terms of business
  • I needed to get part payment up front
  • I needed to be more assertive
  • I was determined never to be made to feel that way ever again by a client (or anyone)
  • I needed to STOP SAYING YES TO EVERYONE WHO WANTED TO WORK WITH ME.

I realised that the reason he nearly snapped my hand off when I quoted him is that probably nobody else within 40 miles would take him on – I’m sure his reputation preceded him.

Does Any Of This Sound Familiar?

It’s a pattern I see all the time.

The BAD Customer Phase

I think nearly every business owner goes through this phase of attracting bad customers at some point. Usually these are customers from our early days in business when we’d take on anyone who asked – we’d say yes to any job, no matter how ill suited we were, because it meant someone wanted us AND we’d get paid.

We charged peanuts because we were ‘new’ and lacking in confidence – we were just grateful for the business!

  • And then it all starts to go sour.
  • They don’t treat you well.
  • Their expectations are unrealistic
  • They are demanding but not in a good way
  • They have no respect for you or your time
  • They ring/call/email at stupid o’ clock and go crazy when you don’t reply straight away
  • They try to beat you down on price all the time
  • They find fault where there is none
  • They slowly but surely wear you down. You lose confidence in yourself and your business. You fall out of love with it and wonder why you bother.

It takes a while, and a whole lot of LOVELY customers to make you realise there is another way to work.

And even now, when you’re actually charging decent rates and attracting nicer customers or clients, you still hang onto these BAD customers, right?

You’re scared to let them go.

You have a bizarre love/hate sentimental attachment to them! It’s like an abusive relationship you can’t leave.

But Claire, you say, they’ve always stuck with me through thick and thin! They are lovely really, they just don’t know any better. They have cashflow problems, but I always get paid eventually. I’ve always been able to rely on their payments (even if they were paltry and late) to get us through….

Let me give you some advice.

Fire them! Now!

Why?

Well they are keeping you stuck. They are holding you back and keeping you down.

They are BAD for you and BAD for your business.

They are taking up time that you could be selling for a higher rate.

They don’t value you. They are taking advantage.

They are part of the ‘old’ business – not part of your future.

Bad business weighs heavy – your business can’t fly when it’s dragging old baggage with it.

You need to put on your big girl knickers and take action to stop this going any further.

Arrange to speak to them or meet with them. Tell then you’re sorry but your business is changing. Or you’re changing your focus. Or you’re cutting your hours. Or you don’t feel you’re a good match for them any more. Or tell the truth – say you can’t work like this any more and for both of your sakes, you’re going to cut them loose and set them free to work with someone else who is better suited.

There is a good chance they will be MAD. Spitting feathers. They will be (or pretend to be) offended. They will tell you that you’re unprofessional. That you’re making a big mistake. That they will tell everyone never to work with you. How very dare you. Or they will weep and rant.

And remember this rant, lovely lady because THIS – THIS behaviour is why you never want to work with them again.

No matter how much of a noise or scene they make, just keep telling yourself that it’s time to let them go. They are NOT your ideal customer. They are NOT good for you or your business. Stick to your guns. Don’t give in.

And above all else, you’re protecting your self respect. You are showing YOU that you value yourself (how can you expect anyone else to value you if you don’t value yourself??). And I’m going to say something a bit woo-woo here – That BAD customer needs to go to make room for an awesome new one who’s waiting in the wings. I promise.

Your BAD CUSTOMER Challenge

Deal with them this week – get rid. You will feel AMAZING once your knees stop knocking and I guarantee your business will be much better for it.

Go on, we’re all here behind you, sending you moral support and you’ll feel like you’ve won the lottery once they’re gone. What’s not to love?

And if you want to share any bad customer horror stories to make us all feel better, feel free in the comments. JUST REMEMBER NOT TO MENTION ANY NAMES OR ANYTHING THAT COULD IDENTIFY THE PERSON IN QUESTION. The last thing you need is a legal letter through your door!

The Pain Of Getting Copied

The Pain Of Getting Copied

One day a little while ago, something happened that I think will resonate with you.

I nearly let something distract me and take my eye off the ball.

Which would have been a real shame because I’m usually so focused and clear on what I want to achieve.

But it’s understandable because it felt very close to home and it really got my hackles up.

Just for a little while, until I remembered that it’s not a problem.

So I wanted to share my experience with you.

My experience of being copied.

I truly believe that if someone else is copying your work, your words, your products, you shouldn’t let it get to you.

You work is infused with YOU. It has YOUR passion, your enthusiasm, YOUR love for it all the way through it, like a stick of rock.

With my Girls Mean Business brand, Awesome Marketing Planner, Brilliant Business Academy and my lovely programmes that I’ve written, they are 100% created by me.

If you cut them in half, they would have Claire Mitchell stamped through the middle.

They have my personality all over them. My sense of humour, my experiences, my way of teaching, my passion for my subject.

Even if someone else took the exact same topic, their products and programmes wouldn’t be the same because they don’t have the secret ingredient – ME.

But then this week I got a bit of shock.

I realised that someone in my network is copying what I do.

  • They are using the words I use.
  • The type of images I use.
  • The exact same format and set up in their business that I’ve developed.
  • They are taking my ideas and changing them just enough to get away with it.

Now with my clients and mentees, I encourage them to take what I teach them, make it their own and pass on the baton. What I teach isn’t new, but the way I teach it is unique to me. I have made it mine. But this was different. This was grubby.

And not just that, they are taking Facebook posts and quotes, ideas and concepts from other ladies within my community and copying them too.

It has a bad taste about it.

So I really had to practise what I preach. It made me put myself into the shoes of every woman who has ever had her work copied and who has come into the community, or onto the Facebook page distraught because someone has stolen their hard work.

And it hurt.

But then I took my own medicine.

I remembered that no matter how much of my work someone takes and passes off as their own, it will never have my stamp. It will never have my enthusiasm behind it, my passion or my energy. It will never have my stories and anecdotes, it will never have my experience behind it.

And without all of that. Without that passion and love, that experience, those stories, that odd Yorkshire/Durham accent, without my daft giggles when I tell a funny story and without Claire Mitchell stamped all the way through the middle….

  • it’s just words
  • it’s just pictures
  • it’s just a dry imitation of my stuff

And do you know what? It will not work for this lady in the same way it’s worked for me.

It can’t. It doesn’t have the secret ingredient.

Until she changes it and makes it hers. Until she puts some effort and originality into it, some personality, some skin in the game – until she does that it’s just empty words and pictures and it won’t resonate with a single soul.

And it got me thinking about you.

About when someone copies your work and how YOU might deal with it.

And my advice is to get over the hurt and the shock as soon as you can, because it’s distracting.

My advice is to take a step back and realise that the person who is copying your hard work is missing a crucial secret ingredient – YOU.

And without YOU, their stuff is just an empty copy, devoid of soul.

It won’t bring them the joy it brought you; it won’t bring them success because it’s coming from the wrong place, energetically.

So rest easy – let it go. Let them try. Send a warning shot across their bows if you like. Get your stuff trademarked if it makes you feel better.

But DON’T let it distract you for long. Draw a line.

Because all the time you are worrying and fretting and upsetting yourself about them, you are not putting your amazing energy into your amazing business.

And that’s when they win – when you take your eye off the ball and let your business slide into submission.

Instead focus on YOUR business. Be MORE awesome. Create MORE wonderful work. Immerse yourself in the work you love and don’t get distracted.

And forgive the person who is copying you because they have taken the hard path without realising it – let them go.