When To Fire Your Customers

As many of you know apart from buying and selling websites and running Prosperly, I also own and run http://www.seoscheduler.com. It’s SEO software I created to make SEO affordable for anyone.

Anyway, we were recently implementing a new product on the service (Where We Do The SEO For People) and I somehow made a mistake and uploaded an old file that listed our basic membership at the wrong (much lower) price. I didn’t realize this had happened until someone contacted me to let me know the site says one price but when they go to pay it tries to charge them the real price.

So I decided to honor that discounted price so as to avoid any customer service issues. Boy was that a mistake.

So I gave the person the huge discount and from the minute they became a member I started getting one email after another from this person. The emails would say ridiculous things like “I don’t believe you have been doing SEO for 10 years.” and other stupid comments like that.

This person clearly “knew” more about SEO than I did. So after the 13th email in 3 days I realized this was going to be way more of a headache than it was worth.

So I did something that you might call crazy. I immediately went to paypal and canceled his account and gave him a full refund. He never asked for me to cancel his membership, I just knew that my time was worth waaaaaaay more than he was paying me to sit there and answer dumb emails all day.

Don’t get me wrong, I like my customers and I am a big believer in great customer service but one thing in business I have learned over the years is you need to know when to fire your customers. I know the concept sounds crazy but there are just some customers that will be such a headache for you that they will cost you money.

It was the same way when I was taking on high level SEO clients, after having a few crazy clients I learned how to quickly filter them out so I didn’t have to take them on as clients.

Here is how I did that: I would think of how annoyed I would be dealing with a customer who always complains and is contacting you all the time. Then I would think of an amount of money that someone would have to pay me for me to go through that. Lastly I would add $1000 to that price and that is what I would quote the crazy potential customer.

Let’s just say it worked like a charm. If they were dumb enough to give me that much money then I would deal with the problem.

Here is a good indicator if they are going to be a problem customer: If they haggle with you on the price from the beginning they will most likely be a problem. It’s not always the case but what I have seen over and over is people that haggle will never stop haggling you. They can’t do it. It’s not in their nature to stop.

The reason it’s people who haggle you on price is because if price is an issue then it means too much to them. They are probably looking to have you answer all of their business and life problems and they won’t stop bugging you until you do.

Someone who is fine with whatever quoted price you give them understands the reality of business and they have more important things to do during the day than to stock you and ask you why everything is not happening quicker.

Sometimes you need the money really badly and you just have to put up with an annoying customer, but when you get to the point that it isn’t worth it to you, that is when you fire your client. It will be hard at first until the peace that overcomes you after they are gone and you realize life is so much better than it was before.

I can’t tell you how happy I was to get an email from this customer I just fired that told me that me cancelling his account was proof that I didn’t have any of the answers for him. He has no idea how right he was.

Adam White is a 20+ year entrepreneur having built and sold 18 internet businesses. He currently runs JustReachOut and SquidVision, a new type of landing page optimization software for SaaS companies, and does SaaS and SEO consulting at Prosperly.com. He lives in Tennessee with his wife and kids and in between SaaS businesses he writes and directs feature films.

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