Got Client Clutter in Your Closet? by Kendall SummerHawk
Do you have clothes in your closet that make your heart sink when you think of wearing them? Maybe they no longer fit, or the last time they were in fashion was when Pat Benetar was singing, "Hit me with your best shot!", or the person you were when you bought them isn't someone you even recognize anymore.
Well, the same thing happens with clients. Some no longer fit. Others are vintage, holdovers from a time when you were just getting started, or willing to work with anyone who would fog a mirror.
Cleaning out your "client closet" is a MUST if you want to make room for new clients who are the perfect fit for you now, and will happily pay you more.
But shedding a client is not the same thing as getting rid of a piece of clothing. This is a real, live person, with thoughts and feelings, and needs and desires that, up until now, have been yours to try and fulfill.
So what do you do when you want to cut loose but you definitely do NOT want to hurt anyone's feelings?
Here are 5 simple tips to clear out your "client closet" and make room for new, exciting clients that will feel like instant favorites!
Tip #1 Stop trying to make it all okay for everyone!
Ladies, listen up and repeat after me, "I am not responsible for my clients' life or business." Pardon me for talking tough here, but no one crowned you "she who is responsible for all", now did they?
Your job is to do an extraordinary job for your clients. When it's time to move on, your job is to still do an extraordinary job for your clients, by being loving, kind, and above all, honest!
Trying to make it all okay for your client has a positive intention, but the actions that stem from it are more smothering than truly loving.
Opt instead to take responsibility for yourself! And in doing so, you'll carve out a path of clarity and decisiveness that your soon-to-be-free clients will pick up on.
Tip #2 Give yourself permission to let go of guilt
Feeling guilty doesn't help. In fact, I've seen it make most situations difficult, complicated, and messy. Guilt is one of those emotions that keeps us stuck. It also is very "me" focused, which is not where you really want your attention to be, is it?
Instead of feeling guilty and nagging yourself with the, "But she was there for me when I was first getting started" speech (or whatever your version of the "but..." conversation is), consider this: by doing right by yourself, you are doing right by your clients. You're setting an example of courage, boldness, and self-care by making a decision—and following through—that isn't always easy.
Take my word for it, your clients (yes, even the ones you're letting go of) will be impressed with your clear direction and sticking to what works for you.
Tip #3 Ask yourself "who wants what you have?"
Being ready with a referral when you're letting a client go feels great, and sends them on their way with a resource to take your place.
Be sure and tell them why you love referring to their new resource, and they'll quickly gain confidence in their new opportunities.
Tip #4 Don't hang on to anyone but the best
Letting go of "they're not that bad" clients can be a lot tougher than the ones that are clearly no longer a fit. Clients earn their mediocre status by being late paying you, late to appointments, slow or no referrals, not following through with assignments, or changing appointment times.
Whatever the reason, you know you're not really thrilled to work with them. They're okay, but not great. They a nice person, but the drama they bring in to your working relationship keeps them (and you) from getting the high level of results that are possible.
These are the types of clients that are taking up far more of your time and attention that you realize. Here's a quick test: think of working with them for the next year. Now think of NOT working with them again. Which feels better?
If you're instant, unedited response was to feel relief, then you know what to do, sooner, rather than later. I know it's hard but the lift you're going to feel is worth oh-so-much-more! And the wonderful new client you'll bring on board to take their place will be a delight.
Tip #5 Stay focused on your heart, what you want, and where you're going
Looking back can bring on a touch of sadness. Try looking ahead at where you're taking your business. Think of someone you are really excited about working with. By keeping your focus on what's ahead, you'll free yourself from any wistfulness that may try and pull you back.
In the end, being fully present for your clients, day in and day out, even in a completion conversation, is a gift. Like finding a home for that metallic fringe jacket with the big shoulder pads, circa 1981, letting go of clients who no longer fit your business model (or your energy) creates a positive vacuum that the universal will quickly fill with perfect new clients you love as if they were old friends.
About the author: Kendall SummerHawk, the "Horse Whisperer for Business" delivers smart, savvy ways entrepreneurs can turn their hectic business into a smooth-running, fun, 6-figure money-making dream. To learn more about her book, Brilliance Unbridled, and sign up for more FREE tips like these, visit her site at Kendall SummerHawk.