Focus means letting go: What to do with smaller clients who no longer fit?
We talked previously about focusing on higher value clients as a way to grow your business and make more money. But successfully implementing this strategy has a catch, you have to let go of lower value clients to make room for the higher value clients we want to attract!
For some folks letting go of past clients, even small, unprofitable ones can be difficult. We worked so hard to get them! We’ve built a relationship with them. Some of these clients have been with me for years…
All true. But they are holding you back now.
One way to look at your business is that it’s a method for turning your time into money, and those smaller clients that got you started are taking up too much of your time and not turning it into very much money.
There are three ways I recommend handling those clients that give them a soft landing and give you a way forward.
1. Phone a friend
The easiest way to take care of those smaller clients is to refer them to someone else. There is likely someone close by who is starting up a business much like you were five years ago. Why not pass along some of these smaller clients to them? It’s a way to pay it forward, take care of the client, and you might even get a referral fee out of it.
Bonus: That smaller firm might run into more significant work from time-to-time that they could send your way.
2. Internal Referrals
Maybe you have an enterprising team member who is ready to handle more. Could you refer that work to them? How could you create a “small project” department within your firm?
With this option, you keep the work in-house, but you wall the smaller clients off so that they don’t have access to your more experienced team members (especially YOU). Your team can continue to deliver service to them, and keep their prices where they need them to be, by having the services completed by lower cost team members. Over time this less complex work could become a training ground where newer team members learn their chops on clients where the risks are more moderate.
For this to work, you have to make sure that you are not involved. Remember, this is a focus strategy if you are distracted by these smaller clients being in-house you need to go back to option 1.
3. Productized Services
If you can define a scope for a fixed fee service that you can do over and over for smaller clients, then you can make them profitable. For this to work, it needs to be something that you can sell 90% of the time from a landing page on your website. You take the hassle, mess and time out of getting the client, setting them up, and delivering the services. By focusing and streamlining what you are offering you make it possible to make even more money without taking up any of your time. Here’s a great list of examples of productized services that you can look at for inspiration. Again, the key here is that you are NOT the one delivering the services.
So which of these methods do you want to choose? How will you make room for the more profitable clients that will be coming?
Make a short plan for this. If you are choosing Option 1 to who would you refer folks? If it’s Option 2 can you start that NOW? If it’s option three you’ve got some work to do to build that sales funnel. How can you start that process and send new prospects through it?