When I first started my business 16 years ago, I can tell you I did not do things the easy way. I found I was giving away free advice, services, working all the time and my rate per hour did not support what I wanted to make in a year. I was hungry and did anything to get the business in the door. That came with a price. I found I was not attracting the type of client I wanted to have. I would rush in to fix the problem, but would find myself in the heat of their drama. These clients would be so happy that their issue was resolved and then would begin to nickel and dime me about how much I charged for my services. I learned all business is not good business.
So how do you protect yourself from these types of clients? Learning how to say NO! Not all business is good business. Putting boundaries together and executing them was one of the hardest lessons I have learned. It is okay to say no. Your client’s emergency is not your emergency. I started to ask more in-depth questions in my interview process. Instead of the client just interviewing me, I would interview the client to see if they were the type of client I wanted to have. I changed my perspective in my sales process in order to find the right client.
In my initial sales meeting I would ask some of the following questions:
- Are you presently working with a bookkeeper?
- If you could re-write how your current bookkeeping services are being done what would you change?
- What is the company structure and how do you pay yourself?
- What are your goals and objectives for your business?
The more I got the client to open up to me, the more I learned about what some of the real key issues were. I started listening to the client instead of selling my services first. Things like money issues became red flags and if they went through several bookkeepers, the reasons just unfolded. As a business owner it is sometimes hard to juggle the multitude of hats we wear in the business. Our personal feeling of doing a good job and wanting to help fix the business owner problems often gets in the way of our own business objectives. So next time when you are bringing in a new client, take more time to interview the client and know it is okay to say NO.