Don’t Allow Your Clients to Abuse Your Good Nature


by Don Smith

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I had another no show for a free consultation last night. I'm a business coach, and part of the drill is hopping on calls with prospects to get new customers, so that type of thing comes with the territory.

I called the lady after a few minutes of staring at the blank screen, and she said, “Now isn't a good time, can we reschedule?”

My response was, “Actually, it sounds like you're very busy. Maybe it would be easier to text me what you are looking for, and we can go from there.”

“Sure! I'll text you.”

Stop the Behavior Before it Becomes a Habit

In the past, I would have rescheduled that call over and over. Each time, I would have gotten excited about the prospect of a new customer, then been disappointed as I wasted a half-hour of my time waiting for them to join.

Occasionally I'd get a client out of those interactions, but more often than not it would just be more of the same. It's not worth it to me to chase people who can't keep an appointment. I'm out to help winners win more, not teach people things they should have learned in Kindergarten like you need to be on time to be successful.

By rescheduling the appointment that she didn't bother to show up to, I would have taught her that it's ok to abuse my time. Instead, she's now been relegated to text. If she wants to text me and work something out, that's fine, but I won't be hopping on a video chat or phone call with her again until she has some skin in the game.

It Is Possible to Run a Tight Ship

I often coach gym owners, coaches, or others who have regular sessions with clients.

They'll come to me saying things like, “I have clients who haven't paid for months, how do you fix that?” or “How do you deal with people who constantly miss appointments and want to do make-ups?”

Many business owners either don't like conflict or are scared of losing customers, so they don't do what is necessary to run a clean business. Some don't even realize that it's possible to avoid those problems without too much drama.

Solutions Can Benefit Both You and Your Customer

The funny thing is it usually isn't that hard to fix things like missed payments or appointments, but it does take making changes. You can even make your customer's lives easier while cleaning up your receivables by implementing things like automatic payments through a program like QuickBooks.

Yes, you may lose a few customers by cleaning up your processes. But my experience is that while you may lose the ones that cause you grief, you'll usually gain respect from your best clients. Some of those who caused you trouble may turn into your best customers too once they realize you are going to enforce the rules.

No Doesn't Have to Sound Like No

You'll notice I didn't tell this lady that her next call would be billable because she wasted my time or that I didn't want her business. Instead, I said, “It sounds like you're very busy. Maybe it would be easier to do this via text.”

She happily replied, “Sure, I'll text you!”

Who knows, maybe she'll become a client, maybe I won't hear from her again. Either way, I'm not going to be staring at a blank screen for free again, and both of us left the conversation on a positive note.

Yes, you want to have happy customers, but don't be afraid to say no sometimes. Just remember no doesn't always have to sound like no.

About the Author 

Don Smith

Happily married with five kids, Smith owns a technology company, has served on the board of directors for multiple companies, and loves playing soccer, hiking, and mentoring.

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