In our attempts to gather customers, to super serve them, to make sure they are happy, to completely satisfy them, to surprise and delight them — there is an exception to be made.
And that is the client that must be fired.
Why would you do that? Read on.
I have a client, who just started taking my free Getting Started in Voice Over class, and who I became — concerned about.
Oh, he started off just fine. He said he excited about learning, open to my message, happy to have a mentor.
Then, the pain started.
It started when he sent me his demo — one that is not competitive in the marketplace. And I told him so. I also encouraged him to think about how to make it better and told him how I looked forward to helping him upgrade his tools, including this demo of his.
Instead of being open to that, he responded that he’d be very appreciative if I gave him credit for how hard he’d worked on it, how he’d taught himself how to add music and effects, and how he’d followed the rules of demo-making.
(Never mind that the rules he quoted were news to me.)
He went on to say that he’d recently read an article about finding the right VO teacher and producer, and that article stated clearly that he needed to find someone who works with you, not against you.
And by the way, he’d booked a job with that demo. And that I should listen to it again, and “see the good points” in it.
I recognized immediately that I had a client who might have to be fired. But not just yet.
I wanted to respond, to make sure that he understood my approach to coaching, and that his efforts were laudable, but the result simply wasn’t. I said that the job that he booked, since it was based on an audition, might not have even included a review of this demo.
(If you’re reading this and are already a client or student of mine, you already know that my approach is supportive, but honest and to the point. And I don’t want to waste a second of your time in getting you to a place of success.)
Then, his reply landed in my inbox.
It included a few choice words about how he “would appreciate a more positive approach to the way that you deal with me seeing that I am an amateur as well as self-taught myself to add music and sound effects etc. I completed that demo on my own and myself and others (including those at Voice123 who I asked to be COMPLETLEY (sic) honest) did not think it was half-bad.”
Well, that was that.
What I had on my hands was someone who didn’t even know yet what they didn’t know, and really wasn’t interested in finding out, and someone who wanted a sycophant as opposed to a mentor.
Sure, I could have gone another round with him. Or a few more rounds with him.
But the 80/20 rule was staring me in the face: I would be spending a lot more time trying to be super super nice, as opposed to being effective — for him and for my other clients.
Why do I share this with you?
Because you might find yourself in a similar situation with a client — someone who comes to you with a script that needs produced, or a book that needs voiced, or a web series that needs narration — and who becomes much more of a management project than a VO project.
Remember, you have every right to choose what kind of client you want to work with.
And what kind of client you want to fire.
I do insist that you make sure that you explore a reasonable number of options to make things productive.
Maybe it’s just a miscommunication that can be righted with a clearer explanation.
But if you find someone insisting on being right, someone fighting for credit for or inclusion of unworthy work, someone micromanaging your performance, or someone who isn’t pulling in the same direction you are, gracefully parting ways with them and wishing them well is not something to avoid.
And that client of mine? He wrote me one more time, asking when I was going to respond to him.
I did. Nicely. And I doubt he’ll ever know what he might have missed out on.
And now, I can spend more time with you. :-)
Have you ever felt like firing a client? Did you? How did you do it? Join in the conversation below.
Hope this helps.