By Stuart Bryan
“You’re fired!” A phrase made famous by Donald Trump on the popular TV show The Apprentice, but also one of the more difficult tasks that a business owner has to perform.
One of the popular mantras of today’s business world is effective company culture. How to build that perfect environment that allows all of your employees to work in a nirvana-like state of satisfaction is a question that many business owners wrestle with.
But have you ever asked that question with the perspective turned outward towards your customers?
As my partner and I have been growing our business over the last 11 years, there have been times, especially in the beginning, where we would take on clients who would turn into time-sucking vortexes of frustration. They would bring stress into the office whether in the service department, sales department or accounting department. Wherever it was, it was a chronic problem.
So, how does one deal with this today and avoid it in the future? Here are three methods that worked for us:
- Have a clear vision and direction for your company and communicate that to your staff, clients and potential clients.
This needs to be on everyone’s mind; your staff’s as they serve your client base, and your clients’ minds as they measure your service against your vision and goals. When staff is servicing your clients’ needs, they need to have the right perspective and be able to effectively communicate that to the client when setting expectations.
When you ask clients for referrals, explain that they should look, feel, and smell just like them. Part of that is knowing why they are a good fit with your company and vice versa. Sales staff needs to know what makes someone a good fit, target those companies, and then further screen them during the sales process. Not every business will be a good fit for your solution, which leads us to our next point.
- Confirm clients share your direction.
We’re a forward-thinking, growing business; that’s one of the key things we look for when interviewing prospects. It helps to have a certain synergy with management and ownership, so they can easily grasp your perspective.
Their values should also line up with yours. It makes those quarterly business reviews that much more productive as well as more likely to be attended.
However, some existing customers won’t share your vision or be interested in shifting toward it. Although it’s hard, you need to stick to your guns on this one.
- Be willing and able to fire clients.
Be decisive. Give clients no more chances to course-correct and change behavior than you would an employee.
Have you ever waited too long to fire a member of your staff who poisoned your work environment? I have, and the comments that I received from other staff members were ones of relief, but also questions as to why it took so long.
It’s the best move for them and you. No one wants animosity or frustration to build up in a relationship whether personal or in business. It affects the quality of service as well as the work environment. And let’s be honest, the client can tell.