Do you instinctively know that some of your customers are costing you more than they’re worth?
You don’t want to fire them – you need the volume! But we’re in the homestretch towards year end and if your numbers aren’t looking as health as they could be, its time to take action to restore them to break even or better. Volunteering for a good cause is one thing, but you absolutely must etch this mantra into the minds of your employees “we don’t work for free anymore!”
Two Actions to Take Tomorrow:
- Find out if they love you, hate you, or tolerate you
- Figure out if the profitability issue is a self-inflicted wound or simply them.
Have you ever known someone who got divorced? When it came right down to it, was it really ever just one person’s fault? Typically there’s fault on the side of BOTH parties and when it comes to unprofitable customers, life is no different.
In fact, in 5 out of 6 cases, “fire the customer” is the wrong answer… because it’s your own self-inflicted wounds that are at fault. Here two constructive ways to determine what your next best move should be.
Find out if they love you, hate you, or tolerate you.
I use simply use the concepts from the Net Promoter Score work done by Fred Reichheld to categorize customers in this way. The first step is to ask your customers this question: “On a scale of 1-10, how likely is it that you would refer us to a non-competing colleague?” A 9-10 lands them in the “they love us” category. A 7-8 means they tolerate you. Less than a 6 means they’re not your biggest fans.
Determine “is it US, or is it THEM” when it comes to the profitability issue.
If you’re under-pricing, over-delivering, failing to insist on prompt payment, or other types of situations that are controllable at your end, then the bad news is “it’s you.” But that’s also good news because it means that the solution to the problem lies completely in your control! If they’re abusive, constantly grinding on price, endlessly delinquent on payment despite persistent efforts on your part, it’s THEM.
Successes are easy to come by with this strategy but you need to pick up the phone to make it happen. In one case, a young accounting clerk quickly absorbed these tactics during one a seminars at her company, and sent me a terrific email the next week. She easily brought an otherwise good customer back to above break even by dealing with their persistent late-payment issue. Sending repeated “late payment” demands produced few results but a quick phone call did. It turns out invoices (and late payment notices) were landing in the inbox of a person who was no longer with the company, but the email account hadn’t been closed down. It wasn’t monitored, and thus they sat there forever. As soon as the right contact was identified, payments were made promptly!
Go ahead, plug your profit leaks by dealing with your unprofitable customers. Not sure how to figure out who they really are or how to apply this strategy? Get on an Accelerator Call with me and we’ll figure out your best next step for rapid results.
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