The Sensitive Matter of Ranking Clients
A bit controversial? Someone has to raise this sensitive subject – if you are offering a service one to one with your clients, some clients are a better fit for your business. That’s it. It might be income related but often it is behaviour, some clients make your heart sing, others make your heart sink. If you have ever felt your heart sink when a certain someone phones or emails then you have an issue to resolve.
A Valuable Lesson
Ranking clients was introduced to me by my accountant when I asked him what the A stood for in my invoice number from him. This was back in 1992. He smiled wryly and said he ranked all his clients with a suffix and A meant the client didn’t bug him with too many calls, got the information in on time and paid their bills a little earlier than the due date.
He had A-C clients and if they dipped into D behaviour he recommended his competitor and sacked them. An eye opener to me.
The Service Providers’ Dilemma
The thing is, those of us who are service providers forge a relationship with those we help. If someone generally ignores advice, phones up frequently and emails 10 times in a day or (and often this is worse) they don’t respond or answer questions/provide information on time/make themselves available when you need them to, it’s coming at a cost to us, the service providers. If, like us, you work on a fixed fee basis then that cost has to be borne by you unless you get the relationship back on the rails. For us that means being very clear at the start as to what is and what is not included. The boundaries.
If, like us, you went into business to help people, you also want to help as many as you can, which means making choices about who you work with and how you work with them. In the early stages of your business you might be grateful for any business, but as your business grows you have to take account of time spent to value paid. A harsh economic lesson? Of course it is. It’s essential, if you are to grow your business, that you spend 40% minimum of your time attracting leads and new clients. You cannot do that by over-servicing those who are most needy of your time but want to pay the minimum.
Setting clear boundaries which are not negotiable, or are negotiated on a proper payment for your time, means the relationship is set on a professional basis from day one. This enables you to serve your existing clients best (i.e. not over-providing to the ‘squeaky wheel’ who makes the most noise). It’s fair and much better for your business and your client relationships with ALL your clients.
Law Hound’s Take on Ranking
The legal market has changed, we saw it coming back in 1999 and it’s been changing ever since. Many business owners view risk in 2018 very differently and will not pay £1000s for legal work. We developed services around those needs and expectations, we removed some of the one to one work from the service and provided quality law services with a video help file.
This has enabled us to provide legal services at a lower rate, which works for clients. The option for the traditional 1-2-1 service is still there but it comes on a time spent basis with a proper evaluation of our time; fixed costs mean a fixed menu and a deadline to conclude matters or pay extra for not abiding by it. This has removed the stragglers of work going on for months and ensures our job satisfaction levels are kept high – important as our virtual team grows. It removes the need for the ranking advised by our accountant back in 1992. Channelling clients into a number of self-selected options means they choose what to pay and what they can expect to get based on their choice.