At some point in a coaching relationship I will usually hear this from my clients:

‘I have this customer who is so demanding. Nothing is good enough, they are constantly complaining, and we lose all our energy when we have to speak to them. I don’t know what to do with them….’

When I dig a little deeper during coaching I often find that they are the customer who has argued for a discount, who pays late, or tries to find a way to pay less than originally agreed.

Not only are they drainers of your time, but they are often unprofitable and costly to support.

So what do you do with them?

As Lucio Quarantotto wrote, “It’s time to say goodbye”.  

We have all experienced toxic clients. You know the ones; they suck huge chunks of your time and often are the lowest paying clients. They put you behind with your day, have “urgent” things that need doing, and somehow manage to position themselves as a priority.

Heard of the 80:20 rule?

In brief, it’s the idea that 80% of output comes from 20% of input.

With clients, 80% of the hassle comes from just 20% of your client base.

And with that, 80% of that extra time is spent on 20% of your client base.

Cut the dead weight.
Get rid of them.
You will be glad to see the back of the extra hassle, much more than you’ll miss the revenue. It opens up a slot for another client, 2 slots depending on how much time you were spending.

Look at your current client list and categorise them in to four:

A – Star clients that you definitely want to retain

B – Reliable clients that are good and potentially could be even better

C – Average clients who can be difficult, but can also be reasonable and reliable.

D – Poor clients who take up too much time and resource for little return. These are the ones who demand more for less and often are having price-based conversations with you, rather than value-based ones. 

My coaching advice is for you to remove the D clients immediately – choosing not to work with some clients will actually help your reputation, and not harm it. 

Once this is done, then you can focus on how you make your C clients more valuable to you (or refer them elsewhere).

Naturally, this whole process needs to be done correctly (but I didn’t need to tell you that, did I?) Keep things professional and always provide a reference for somewhere else.

Never leave a client without a service they need. This is beyond bad practice. Work out who will be best for them and their style of doing work and make the introduction.

Spend some time this week reviewing all of your clients, and where you find D clients, plan the necessary actions to remove them from your business.