You’ve probably had a client or two who made you want to gouge out your eyes. He or she is what they call “difficult”—never satisfied, high maintenance, in short, an awful lot of trouble. Every meeting with this person becomes a drama of tears, hostility, accusations and denial. You may even have considered walking away from such a client, but according to the co-authors of Clients First: The Two Word Miracle, Joseph and JoAnn Callaway, the last thing you should be thinking of doing is firing your client.
“The business world is full of corporate gurus who advise you to get rid of the ‘bottom 10 percent’—of employees, stores, suppliers, and yes, even clients—because these lackluster organizations and people are only weighing you down,” says Callaway. “I disagree.” Callaway and his wife built a successful real estate business, which has not only survived the boom-and-bust cycle of recent years but thrived. They credit their “never fire a client” credo for that success.
“Deciding to really put clients first, whether they were individuals or institutions, was a remarkable—and remarkably simple—discovery. Even when clients make your life a lot more difficult than it theoretically should be, your job—your professional reason for being—is to serve them.”
Here are four ways to incorporate the Callaways’ approach into your business: