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OK, what the heck am I talking about here you are asking? Well, over the past few years this has come become more and more clear for me. My partners and I have had hours and hours of conversations about this and we have come to unanimous conclusion. Clients SUCK and Customers are GREAT.
Let me explain here and see if you agree. I used to do a number of Websites for clients. This involved first educating them on the basics of what they needed to have for a profitable Website. Then after that part of the process was over you get into the components and look and feel of the site. In that most people are clueless when it comes to this, only about 1 to 2 out of every 10 clients actually could express exactly what they wanted and were flexible enough to understand that getting the site up and running first should be the main goal.
Then after the site is up, you then go back up and tweak it. We have also came to the conclusion that in far too many cases the more you do for them, the less they appreciate it and place no value on it. These are also the Clients that are the biggest pain in the butt. I have on a couple of occasions dumped thousands of dollars into a site only to still get nothing but complaints from them while they never realized that they may have been the reason why it did not work out with the past 2 or 4 developers.
That is a Warning Sign too. If they have tried several other people to do the same things an it did not work out, you really need to dig in and see what the scoop was. Now many times it could simply be they got incompetent people. But in well over 60% of the cases in my experience, it is the customer that is the problem and not whoever did the previous work for them. Be careful and do your homework here.
Plus, I have seen in many cases while you can wait for days for them to get you the information you need to move to the next step, even though the delays caused a train wreck to your schedule, they expect you to drop everything you are doing and get right back on their project. They never realize nor care that it may have caused you a week’s delay and it may be another week or a month before you can put them back into your schedule. They think that the customers that do what they are supposed when they are supposed to should suffer for their actions. Baloney, I won’t let that happen.
While most people don’t blink an eye when they pay their car mechanic $85 or $125 per hour to fix their car so it is reliable, they want a Website that is the basis of their business done for peanuts. It is both laughable and sad at the same time.
The same goes for Marketing clients as well. Many don’t want to pay $5,000 to $10,000 for assistance that can make them hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars that year. But, they will spend thousands on one stupid ad or marketing scheme or tool. LOL
I have heard this from others in all stripes of businesses and niches. Now again, not all Clients are like this, but day in and day out, enough are to have made me and my partners get rid of 99% of our Clients. I will tell you about the exceptions here shortly.
Get Rid Of Your Clients And Turn Them Into Customers
What is the solution? Get rid of your Clients and turn them into Customers. What is the difference between a Client and a Customer?
Customers are those that pay a set fee on preferably a monthly basis for a set, well defined deliverable and you have little or no interaction with them.
There are lot of ways to accomplish this if you sit down and think about it. The faster you can move your business to this model, the faster your profits are going to go up and your headaches will go away.
Now I mentioned there was an exception to this and here it is it and you will have to do some thinking on your part to figure out how to implement this.
I have to warn you that part of this may be counterintuitive.
You need to figure out a very high threshold for your fees. Not unreasonable mind you, but you want to be in the top 2% to 5% of your competition. For me with Websites, if a client can’t plunk down a minimum of $5,000 to start and then can pay $100 per hour for work after that, then I don’t deal with them. Even then, I don’t want to take on too many clients under those circumstances. And the only way the get that far is if there is a chance to make even more money on a Joint Venture with them in some way.
Why does this work? Well for one, those that can pay this amount are usually successful and realize that time is money and they also value quality and they value your time as much as they value theirs. Things will get done on schedule and they will be open to your expertise and while they may have suggestions and ideas, they are not going to be whiny or overly demanding and things almost always get done without a hitch.
They understand that paying $5,000 to $25,000 for a site that can make them several hundred thousand to several million dollars per year is a great investment that anyone would be hard pressed to find these days.
Now that being said, what products or services can you offer that are similar in nature that you can raise the price point on so that it only attracts qualified Clients or what can you do to turn your current Clients into Customers as defined above?
Answer these two questions and you are on your way to making a lot more money, enjoying your work more and getting rid of most of your stress.
And remember this point. The Client Model offers Zero Leverage to your income as you only have a finite amount of time. Whereas the Customer model allows you to automate the process and usually if you can figure out how to service 10 Customers, you can scale it to service 10,000 clients with very little effort. And you will actually see your costs per Customer drop dramatically and your Profits increase in the same fashion.
Now that is Fashion that I can get into!
Andrew “Easy” Anderson