Happy New Year and welcome to 2019! Here’s hoping that this year is better for you than the last. We are really excited to help you and your business this year. Before we go any further, I wanted to share a story of two clients we lost in 2018, under very differing circumstances.

Over a couple of months in fall of 2018, we lost two clients on our e-newsletter program. It DOES happen just like you probably have clients cancel from time to time, but we try to avoid it when we can.

Client #1 was a LONG time client of ours. We first started working with him in 1992 and have always had a good working relationship. He cancelled the e-newsletter program abruptly and unexpectedly in the fall, and I immediately got in touch with him to find out what prompted him to bail, so we could improve it for the future. His answer was “I didn’t like how I couldn’t customize the content,” which was enough to raise my blood pressure a bit. Why? Because clients on our e-newsletter program ABSOLUTELY CAN edit the standard content. In fact, using our pre-written articles as a starting point and giving us input and edits to create a customized newsletter is one of the key features of the program. But somehow, somewhere along the way we had a failure to communicate that benefit to him, and he had the mistaken impression that we weren’t allowing him to give us edits. 

Client #2 was a new client. A very young guy in the “serial entrepreneur” mold. In our initial conversations he kept talking really expansively about his plans for the future, but I got the impression he wasn’t really a landscaper as much as he just decided that he wanted to be in business and that landscaping was a scalable industry to get into. From the get-go, this client was difficult. He would not reply to our questions or requests, and then contact us a week later asking if the task in question had been completed. He also kept saying things like “this newsletter needs to be like instagram for my business,” and then one night over the course of 3 disjointed e-mails he asked to buy Focal Point from me, saying that if we were "just under different management" we could be really successful. Charming. Now, I could have guessed that this guy wasn’t going to stick around, and after a couple of frustrating months he cancelled the program. As you can surmise, we weren’t totally unhappy to see Client #2 go. 

But here’s the thing: how much time and effort did we waste trying to appease Client #2 that we could have applied to clients like Client #1? We had a great, long-term customer cancel a program purely because we weren’t proactive enough with our communication. Instead, we let the squeaky wheel client get all the grease and made the faulty assumption that the quiet client was totally happy.

So as you get your season started this winter, try to remember both sides of this coin: don’t let one difficult client dominate your attention, and don’t let yourself assume that a quiet client is always totally happy. Develop a plan for staying in contact with all your clients, even the “easy” ones who don’t seem to need much attention.

And for the record, if you are on our e-newsletter program, you’re allowed to edit the articles. Just so we’re clear on that.