The Break Up

cartoon-nov15-2011 Isn’t it true that we all have that client that just sucks the life out of you? The one that bitches about every bill, loses every one of your emails, blames you for everything and never takes your advice? Hold the phone – you have that person (or several of them) pictured in your mind right now, don’t you?

I fired a client this week. Actually, fired is a mild term for how the break up really went down. It was a bad relationship from the start. Like “middle school” bad. Poor communication-bad information-rumors around town-damage to my reputation Bad with a capital B.

So what makes us tell a client to pound sand? How bad does it have to be? Does it have to resemble a Romeo and Juliet, murderous nightmare before we will accept that we have failed to fix the relationship? At what point do we forgive ourselves, accept that we’ve done all that we can and sever the ties?

I once read an article about a CEO that took over a company and immediately sent a list of clients around the office. He empowered each manager to select the clients that they believed whole-heartedly needed to be fired. The management group selected a list of clients to be axed that encompassed 10% of the annual gross of this mid-sized firm. The CEO, true to his word, fired each of the clients on the list.

Guess what? Rather than revenues dropping the 10% that those clients represented, productivity and thus revenue increased by OVER 40%! Empowering your people and removing the emotional garbage that really bad clients represent plays a huge role in your bottom line.

Metaphysically, when you open up a space in your company’s capacity by removing the negativity of a bad client, you will be able to focus on productive, profitable growth in the right direction. Because our businesses are our passions, we take personally the successes and failures along the way. We also may feel that if we can just heal the relationship that we can collect the fees due to us and move on. Pay attention to when it’s time to let go.

What I executed this week is the realization that the revenues owed to us from this client were never going to show up. The client was extorting not only more and more of my time, but most importantly more and more of my energy. Energy that I could spend helping other clients that needed me.

Do you have one of these break ups on your horizon? Knowing when to let go, even if it means you take a hit financially in the short term, will help you in the long term. Trust me, because once I let go, our business development soared. You owe it to your team and your other clients to break up with the one or ones that are holding you back. You will be so glad you did.