Attention Digital Agency Owners, Web Design and Development Company CEOs, Custom Software Chiefs and those that run Digital Marketing Companies - have you ever fired a client?
I'm not talking about "pricing yourself out of a job," or petering out of an engagement that isn't lucrative for you. I know you've all done that.
I mean, have you assessed a situation where your top revenue generating client simply wasn't worth the money anymore, and have you talked to them, point blank and said - "we don't want to work with you anymore, so effective immediately, or effective on this date in the future, we won't be working with you, so we need to start to phase out?"
Not to be rude, but I doubt it.
I could be wrong, but my guess is that you've always chosen revenue, and I get it. It's hard not too, especially when there's a lot at stake - people's salaries, your livelihood, your family's livelihood.
But when you REALLY run the numbers, and when you REALLY see what your largest client is doing for your business, oftentimes it can be more harm than good.
Defining "largest," for the sake of this article, I mean revenue wise.
NOT ONCE, but TWICE, in the last 365 days, I've sat down with my largest revenue generating client, and I've let them go.
With the first one, I made the decision to phase out of the relationship. The second, I called up, point blank, and said it's over. We're done.
Since both moves, our business has been far better off, and I've learned that when you focus on selling the sellable, rather than the unsellable, as well as "trim the fat," you really do get somewhere. This is a real strategy.
This is something I'd recommend all digital agency entrepreneurs and operators be ready to do.
Here are the top three reasons you should fire your largest client:
3. You're growing THEIR business more than you're growing yours. As the chief operating officer of your own business, you start realizing that the cost benefit analysis of this client is YOUR TIME.
This is not good. You've heard the story a million times of the agency that had to lay off two-thirds of their staff after their largest client left them. This is what happens in the end when you let this one become your path. You grow their business more than yours, and when they decide for whatever random reason that they don't need you anymore, you're screwed. Be VERY careful about spending too much time growing someone else's business at the expense of yours.
I get the fine line between a solid large revenue generating client helping you and hurting you.
Be constantly evaluating where you are on this fine line at all times. As soon as you're on the wrong side, pull trigger.
2. They challenge everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. Don't get me wrong, solid partnership and teamwork, even in the form of thoughtful disagreement, is productive, helpful, and even educational and fulfilling. We love it. But when your largest client starts to show signs that they're paying you for some service that they don't believe in, there's no turning back - trouble is ahead. You can't sell the unsellable, and you're staring and future resentment on both sides. It's just not worth putting time into constantly selling someone on something they don't believe in, especially when they're paying you for it.
It's hard to see, when the checks are flowing in, but you're wasting a ton of time on them, and time is way more valuable than money. Time is something you can be spending with your co-workers, employees, peers and most of all - FAMILY!
When your client challenges everything, they also make you - the business owner - miserable. You're an entrepreneur, so in many ways, you're used to it, and you're fine with it. But any good entrepreneur is worth 33% of their total capacity when miserable.
Eliminate the misery, get happy again, and your productivity level increases, your happiness level increases, and your ability to business dev skyrockets.
You realize you don't actually don't need your biggest client.
1. They're making your team miserable. Your team will do anything for you. That's why they're ON YOUR TEAM. But the minute your largest client starts sucking the life out of them and taking them for granted, it's time to act, and act swiftly.
If you show your team that revenue matters more than their fulfillment, it's over for you. Your reputation is damaged, and it's hard to acquire good people and good talent.
No client is worth having negativity spread throughout your organization.
I know it's not easy, but think about how you didn't go into business to work for anybody else. You did it to work for yourself.
You get to make these decisions. Make them carefully and you'll be better off for it. Trust me.
And when you do the right thing, the revenue will come.
Thanks for reading, watching and listening, and have a great day!
Paul Hickey, Founder / CEO / Lead Strategist at Data Driven Design, LLC has created and grown businesses via digital strategy and internet marketing for more than 10 years. His sweet spot is using analytics to design and build websites and grow the audience and revenue of businesses via SEO/Blogging, Google Adwords, Bing Ads, Facebook and Instagram Ads, Social Media Content Marketing and Email Marketing. The part that he’s most passionate about is quantifying next marketing actions based on real data.