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    18 Replies Latest reply on Apr 24, 2008 3:05 PM by clnshirtz

    Sometimes you have to walk away

    Iwrite Pioneer
      With the economy going the way it is I cannot believe I fired a client today. But it had to be done.

      I was burning time and gas meeting with them, gathering information and talking strategy, and the relationship was not going anywhere. They are nice people, but they could not make a decision and they didn't value my services.

      With what they were offering to pay me, I would not have made a profit. I would have barely been able to pay the art director. I don't want to do business like this. It is not fair to the people working with me, myself or the client.

      "The Client?" Yes, the client. The client/agency relationship is based on trust. They could never get the best from me because they would never trust what I am offering. No matter how excited I am about a solution I offer, they would never see the value in the idea. Which could lead to them missing an opportunity. They deserve someone who they believe in and value their skills. for them, this was not me.

      Intechspecial has a beautiful response on another post about serving God through how we conduct our business. I know with the issues they have that I am not good for their business. It would do more harm than good to them.

      I wrote them a very nice letter. But first, I called the marketing person to let them know my decision. He was not happy, but I hope down the road he understands. I'm not happy either.

      When do you think it is right to walk away? Do you think it is ever right to walk away?
        • Re: Sometimes you have to walk away
          LUCKIEST Guide
          Sometimes you have to walk away. Congratulations firing a client is hard.
          In my former life as an Accountant, there were times when the client said goodbye to me,
          and yes sometimes I said goodbye to them. Not often, BUT
          Hopefully in time you will pick up bigger and better clients BUT
          you will alway remember the ones you let go of.
          Have a drink, enjoy the evening.
          1 of 1 people found this helpful
          • Re: Sometimes you have to walk away
            akgold Adventurer
            Profitability has many dimensions: financial, personal, emotional, future positioning, etc.

            Freedom, the reason why most people go into business for themselves, demands that business owners make wise decisions. I am very careful about stocking up on cash so that I never have to take a project out of desperation and can make level-headed decisions.

            Freedom is even better than a big house, a nice car, or fine restaurant. Freedom means that you can choose to walk away because you are not an employee. So, whether the economy is good or bad, whether gas costs $1.50 a gallon (remember that!) or $3.98 a gallon, protecting one's self interest should remain the same.

            My history professor was fond of saying "Desperate people do desperate things." Showing that you are not desperate is very important in life and business. Only you know if you made the right or wrong choice Iwrite. The good part is that you and not they made the decision. Good luck.
            1 of 1 people found this helpful
            • Re: Sometimes you have to walk away
              Lighthouse24 Ranger

              You have my best wishes. I had to walk away from my biggest client (ever) about two years ago. If your head and heart are where mine were the night that happened, you're just flat out angry at one or two of their people for being so oblivious. The whole deal still bothers me when I think about it, it's still impacting us as an organization, and it's still what I would do if I had it to do over.

              I have a few "absolutely non-negotiable" points . . . things I need to have in a transaction, things I'll never do as a professional. It really is only a very few things, but I know what they are and I stick to them (even if it means "walking away"). I'm also old enough to know (in retrospect) that the right time to walk away in the past would usually have been a little sooner than I did -- so that experience would keep me from doubting myself if I had to walk away now. These days, I try to follow the late, great Herb Cohen's mantra for business relationships: "You have to care, really care -- but not THAT much."
              • Re: Sometimes you have to walk away
                LariosVox Wayfarer

                When you feel you have done the best job you can offer and there are no other solutions in good faith, then we can begin to fire. alot of times we make decisions that affect not just us, but the entire teams we manange. Walk away before your loss becomes dessaster, always try to discover what it is your clients want and what you want from them., it will give you an edge i think. Good luck,
                • Re: Sometimes you have to walk away

                  Hello Iwrite

                  Yes you are right and you know what? You did the right thing. Seriously.

                  Sometimes you just have to pull the pin on relationships (all kinds and not just business) to move forward and some clients just don't get it (sounds like your client didnt get it). I've pulled the pin before. Its hard and sometimes scary. But it is the best thing. People like us (you fellow marketing professional you) are hard to value at times but we need to value our self first and choose to walk way!

                  Ok, I don't like to promote people or brands etc necessarily (as we know there are enough people doing that!), have a read of a book by a guy I think his name is Alan Wiess and its called Value Based Fees and it really helps you (well it helped me) realise that yes its best to walk away and that if you are a professional with education, skills and experience etc then you should be paid what you are worth and not be shy to demand nice pay. I always do this - even if it means I walk away now. I have spent a great deal of time and effort putting the hours in, studying my heart out and working in real marketing and I make sure I have a lot to give and am happy to ask to be compensated fairly for the difference I can make.

                  • Re: Sometimes you have to walk away
                    DomainDiva Ranger
                    Walking away from, or firing a client is sometimes a diffficult decision...then sometimes not. When a consultant reaches the point where the relationship is poisonous to both parties, then it is time to sever the relationship. Someone has to step up and do the right thing....unfortunately most of the time it is the consultant, accountant or other small business person.

                    There are several large corporations that I will not do business with as their definition of payment of an invoice differs from mine.
                    • Re: Sometimes you have to walk away
                      Lighthouse24 Ranger

                      I was reading Consult This! by Michael W. McLaughlin this morning, and he offered five signs that suggest a business services provider might want to consider firing a client:

                      • Your client contact is difficult to reach or meet with (doesn't return calls);
                      • Your client contact has disengaged, leaving decisions to subordinates;
                      • Your profit margin on this client's projects is steadily eroding;
                      • The client nit-picks your invoices, and/or payments are consistently late;
                      • The client's projects do not allow you to grow professionally.

                      I know this thread has been inactive for a week or so, but it seemed like the natural place to post this.

                        • Re: Sometimes you have to walk away
                          Iwrite Pioneer
                          Thank you for the response. These are signs we often ignore but end up paying for in the end.

                          I left the post unanswered because there is alway more to say on this subject.

                          Here is one more sign:
                          • Your client is disrespectful and abusive of you or your employees. They are ruining the morale of your business.
                            • Re: Sometimes you have to walk away
                              Lighthouse24 Ranger
                              Good one! (Depending on the "abuse," it may not even be a choice. An owner/manager may be legally obliged to walk away in order to provide the right work environment for employees -- for example, if a customer continued to sexually harass an employee.) He should definitely add your suggestion if/when he revises the book.
                          • Re: Sometimes you have to walk away
                            NatOnline Tracker
                            I walked away from my best customer when I had my graphic design firm.

                            I work together more than 2 years, but sometime customers are asking something I could not do for them.

                            My customer asked me to start building a catalog with 1/3 of pictures and descriptions, as you may know you cannot layout or create a catalog from scratch if you don't have all elements to work with. He never get it, so I just let him go.

                            I was sad we cannot find a way to work around his project, but unfortunately I did not have a magic hand.
                            1 of 1 people found this helpful
                            • Re: Sometimes you have to walk away
                              FCPainter Adventurer
                              It's a great move. If you redeploy that time to delighting another customer (who's likely to refer you), creating new sales opportunities, managing your finances etc you'll come out way ahead...and they'll go find a vendor who's better suited to them
                              • Re: Sometimes you have to walk away
                                SJCarpentry Wayfarer
                                I think it is important to be able to do this in a service business. Some people just expect or want too much, and when you deliver a service there is a subjective element. At the end of the day, you can lose your shirt on a bad customer.

                                It should also help you long term to think through who your target customers are
                                  • Re: Sometimes you have to walk away
                                    Iwrite Pioneer
                                    Cool. So, our veiw of who are customer is should evolved? I don't think that is not something I have heard mentioned on this board. But it only makes sense that over time we become better at recognizing customers or situations who may be a problem.

                                      • Re: Sometimes you have to walk away
                                        DomainDiva Ranger
                                        I have always tried to be the kind of customer that I want my customers to be. In other words: yes it is a one another world and we should treat others (regardless of their circumstances) the way we would like to be treated. I do not believe that there are certain 'classes' of people when it comes to this axiom.

                                        Do we as business customers of another business always insist on everything being perfect? Do we try to nickle and dime every penny from a supplier squeezing their profit margin?

                                        If you have a customer you see is heading towards problems or issues, do you discuss those with them before making a decision on whether or not to fire the client? (Which I have done as well...).

                                        I don't know if our view "who our customers are" should evolve or the idea of "what would I as a small business owner want another small business owner to do for me" and then go from there. A lot of the problems I see in the client-customer relationship stem from ego..someone always wants to be the dominant player....I tell my clients up front that I am a team player. I will do what it takes to get the job done and I will always communicate with them so that when things do get messy (they always do on leases and returns) everyone on both sides will have the necessary information and tools to resolve the issue.

                                        I have also been in situations where I have represented both sides at the same the request of both parties....that's where you can really put the 'one another' axiom into practice.
                                          • Re: Sometimes you have to walk away
                                            Iwrite Pioneer
                                            Actually, I am still talking to the client I had to fire. I am answering their questions and helping them find someone who is a better fit. And I am doing it for free. I want them to succeed. I would give you my reasoning for this but I don't feel like losing another post for it being inappropriate.

                                            I agree we talk and place ourselves in their positions. But as my agency grows and the relationship with clients grow, some change may occur. I have seen clients outgrow agencies and vice versa.

                                            Here are two quick examples:
                                            • The agency thought after several measurable successes the trust factor would grow. It didn't, and working with this client has become a drain on both the resources and the people of the agency. It is time for a change.
                                            • A client started the relationship cautiously but over time came to believe in the work of the agency, but the agency failed to recognize this and continues to play it safe - even after the client has said they want more. It is time for a change.
                                            Whatever it is ego or maturity, there is a problem that after talking still exists. In advertising, your agency needs your trust. Without it they will not show you anything different or new. And in the end that only hurts your business. I'm going to post a question later this week that goes deeper into this.



                                              • Re: Sometimes you have to walk away
                                                DomainDiva Ranger
                                                You may be surprised at how many times I have not posted for the same reasons you pointed out as well. I have to eat my own dog food as well (to stay objective in a public forum) ... as Guy Kawasaki says.

                                                Trust is probably the biggest issue in any client relationship since in the end it really boils down to dollars and cents in your world - advertising (hope I got it right) and aviation in my world.

                                                One thing I have found though is that when the trust and longevity are there...the possibilities and 'good things resulting' are endless and of great benefit to all.
                                        • Re: Sometimes you have to walk away
                                          clnshirtz Wayfarer
                                          in a high volume business like ours, you just take the good with the bad. you never know if your good customers will never refer you and hte people who you don't like, well, maybe if you please them, they are the type to go on and on about how great you are.

                                          it's tough out there, people expect a lot and dont' want to pay for it

                                          that's why we are not doing much delivery/pick-up anymore (that plus gas prices)