Managing Director @ The Tag Experience | New York Times Best-Selling Author | Former Editor in Chief of Ocean Drive Magazine | Dad
“Who lets go of a client in the middle of a pandemic?” That’s what my ex-client said to me during our final conversation after I had let them know we would not be continuing with the account. He had a point. Was I crazy? Letting go of a solid, retainer-based client as economies crumble? I wasn’t crazy. And it’s why I let them go. In fact, I’ve let go of more clients in the three-year history of The Tag Experience than have let go of us. Sure, we’ve ended in other manners—one company went bankrupt, one company was shut down by Facebook. But we weren’t fired.
So who lets go of a client in the middle of a pandemic and why? Well, at surface level it would seem like a bad economic move. But when you look at the numbers, hours, dollars, brain cells, heartbeats and, most importantly, the morale of the team, it becomes clear who lets go of a client in the middle of a pandemic. Here are five reasons you may just need to do the same:
I love working. I’ve been doing it nonstop for over 20-plus years. Even on vacation, my laptop and phone are never far away. But I don’t like busywork. I don’t like more work than needs to be done. If a client or company is overloading you and your team with nonstop work that could easily and efficiently be handled in a better way, you need to reassess the relationship—especially if your company is handling dozens of accounts or more. You can’t have one client dominate.
The Money’s Not Good Enough
Money’s good. More money is better. Not a lot of money, well, sucks. And worst of all, late payments. Sometimes you take on a client early in your company, but as your company grows, your rates, capabilities, skills and focus change. Is the account worth your time? If they pay you half of what another client pays, do you do half the work? Only you know what’s right. But if it bugs you, becomes a hassle, and isn’t worth the money, then it’s time to move on. But all things considered, if they pay their bills on time, there’s a respect level that’s there you can’t argue. We know in this day and age that every bit counts. But what if they are three invoices behind? Four invoices behind? What if it’s February and the last time they sent a check was in October? Is that a company you want to work with?
MORE FOR YOU
I have a background in breaking news. I used to get crisis calls at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday when out to brunch. I’d get texts at 6:30 p.m. on a Thursday just as I’m about to step on the treadmill. Voicemails from overnight that ping at 7 a.m. on a Saturday. I’m used to the 24/7 lifestyle. But when I started my own company, I set boundaries. Part of the reason I left the corporate world was to establish my own rules. Do I take calls at 11 p.m. on a Friday? Sure do. Do I send out emails at 3 p.m. on a Sunday? As needed. But those are decisions I make. What I can’t have is a client pushing those same boundaries (for no reason) upon my team at all hours. Sometimes it’s needed. Breaking news is breaking news, crisis is crisis. We handle it all and will gladly continue to. But sometimes your after-hours calls can wait. If a client can’t calm down the harassment and it’s affecting your team, they may not be the right fit. To my first point, if they pay their bills on time or just, in general, are paying you your worth, you can call me at 3 a.m. on a Monday — I will take your call.
What Are You Getting Out Of It?
Money’s great. But feeling good is a reward too. Are you growing as a company by doing their work, or are you just being robotic for them? Don’t get me wrong, I’ll do the robot all day to earn our keep. But as your company grows, you realize money’s not the only thing. Are new leads or new business opportunities coming in because of the great work you are doing? Or maybe you are white-labeling and can’t even talk about it or show it off. It’s okay to be stealthy. But if you can’t talk about the client, the money’s not good, they are harassing you—you start to tick off more boxes as to why you shouldn’t be working with them than why you should. I want to be happy, and I want my team to be happy.
Can You Upgrade?
This was a driving force behind one of our latest decisions to offload a client. The money wasn’t great and it was super time-consuming. We had been loyal for a couple of years, so it wasn’t like we bailed on everyone. It’s business, and sometimes business relationships run their course. But when a new client came in, we felt that we could easily replace the loss of revenue plus gain much-needed time, workforce and headspace by offloading. We upgraded. As a company, we brought in a client that was more pleasant, paid their bills on time and stayed within their boundaries. We are a better company now because of the decisions we made.
As bosses, we’ve all had to calm our team down. But when a staffer that you know and trust walks in and says, “I can’t take them anymore,” when referring to a client, you have to assess immediately. You could switch staffers and accounts. You can talk to the client. You can figure out a new arrangement. You don’t always have to end things. But sometimes you just have to tell them: “It’s not you, it’s us.”
Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?
Go to Source
Author: Jared Shapiro, Forbes Councils Member