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How to Fire Bad Customers: A Simple Framework for Small Business Owners

How to Fire Bad Customers: A Simple Framework for Small Business Owners

After your sales team scratches and claws for each account, it is often easy to forget about purposefully curbing your client list. No matter how important your customers are to you, some of them just aren’t worth the time.

Below, we discuss how to figure out if a customer is bad enough to fire, and what you can do about it.

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Differentiating “good” and “bad” customers

The first step is determining whether or not you actually have any bad customers. One thing you do not want to do is simply pick the customers that complain the most and get rid of them. These customers are actually extremely valuable. A recent survey found that if 27 people experience a problem, only one actually reports it. Without those people alerting you to your shortcomings, you may never know how to improve for the rest of your customers.

Here are some important questions you should ask yourself when deciding whether a customer is worth firing or not:

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  • Do you make money from the account? If you are actually losing money on a customer due to frequent returns, outrageous demands, or slow payments, you can get rid of them without thinking twice.
  • What is the opportunity cost of servicing them? Consider whether or not you are spending too much time on low-profit customers. Usually, this time can be better spent focusing on growing higher potential accounts.
  • Does the customer hurt morale? Some customers will be profitable, but treat their account managers or sales representatives abusively. If their behavior is severe enough, cutting ties could be warranted.
  • What else do they bring to the table? Think carefully about any other benefits a customer might bring to the table for you. For example, if they have offered referrals or positive reviews in the past, even if they are not profitable or are hard to deal with, the ancillary benefits could be worth keeping them around.

Contemplating your alternatives

After identifying your problem customers, avoid cutting them loose immediately. Take the time to see if there are any alternatives available to you. You might consider hiring a junior salesperson to handle lower-value accounts while the experienced reps take care of the most important ones.

Another good strategy is simply laying out the facts instead of cutting ties with them. Explain the problems that you are having with them in a polite manner. Let the customer decide if they are willing to make fewer demands or would prefer to find another vendor. They might be unaware that they have been difficult, or quite willing to lower their demands in order to save the business relationship.

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Breaking the bad news

If you have determined that a customer is no longer worth your time and there aren’t any alternatives available, you must figure out how to fire them gracefully. This is an uncommon business proposition and can be quite awkward. However, you can take the following steps to ensure that the separation goes as smoothly as possible:

  • Keep it short and professional. Do not bring emotion into the conversation or engage in any arguments. Simply let your former client know that you will no longer be doing business with them.
  • Offer a referral. If you are comfortable doing so, provide the customer with the name of a competitor who might be a better fit for them. Doing so will minimize the impact on their operations and lower the chance that they will spread ill will towards your company.
  • Try to leave the door open. The only consistent thing in business is change. A company’s budget could increase exponentially, or their purchasing manager may change. Leave on the best terms you can in order to keep your options together open in the future.

Nipping the problem in the bud

As you weed your problem customers out, take care to identify any patterns between them. You might notice that businesses of a certain size or in a certain industry tend to cause more problems. Take a look for any early warning signs that raised a red flag early in your business relationship. Identify these customers and try to train them better from the very start. In many cases, you can preemptively avoid account issues with strategic customer onboarding. The better you become at nullifying problem customers from the beginning, the less time you will waste handling and firing them in the future.

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Getting rid a customer is never an easy proposition. Having the chance to develop more profitable relationships and relieve your account managers of unnecessary hassle, however, is well worth the effort. By following the steps outlined above, you will drive more revenue and make life easier on your employees.

Featured photo credit: VIKTOR HANACEK via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on January 27, 2021

How to Use Visual Learning to Work More Effectively

How to Use Visual Learning to Work More Effectively

Knowledge is essential to become successful in life, your career, and your business. Without learning new concepts and becoming proficient in your craft, it’s difficult to excel in your chosen career or archive knowledge to pass down to the next generation. Visual learning is one way to do this, and it can be incredibly effective in helping you work better.

Content comes in various forms, and because how we learn influences how much we know, we need to talk about learning styles. This article will focus on how to utilize visual learning to boost your career or business.

The Importance of Knowing Your Learning Style

Knowing your learning style enables you to process new information to the best of your ability. Not only does it reduce your learning curve, but you’re able to communicate these same concepts to others effectively.

It all starts when you’re able to first identify the best way you learn.

As a college student, I soon figured out that taking online courses without visual aids or having an instructor in front of me led to poor retention of concepts. Sure, I got good grades and performed excellently in my online exams. However, I discovered that I couldn’t maintain this performance level because I forgot 80 percent of the course content by the end of the semester.

There are several types of learning styles, which exist as part of the VARK model. To give an idea of how visual learning stacks up against other learning styles, here’s a brief mention of some of the different types of learning styles we have.

The four most popular types of learning styles are:

  • Visual learning style (learning by seeing)
  • Aural or auditory learning style (learning by listening to information spoken or presented)
  • Read/Write learning style (learning that involves reading and writing texts)
  • Tactile/Kinesthetic learning style (learning by touching and doing)

For the purposes of this article, we will be focusing on using visual learning.

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Are You a Visual Learner?

When it comes to boosting your career, business (or education), a visual learner is one who would most definitely choose shapes, images, symbols, or reading over auditory messages.

This may mean you prefer to read an actual map when navigating to a new place over listening to verbal directions. It may also mean that you have trouble remembering what your manager said at the meeting because there were no graphs or illustrations to support the points raised.

Visual Learner Infographic

    Most people who struggle with learning probably aren’t leveraging their best learning styles[1]. The earlier you identify how your learning style can boost your success, the less struggle you will encounter with processing new information throughout your career.

    However, visual learning in particular can really boost your career or business whether it is your preferred learning style or not, and here’s why:

    Several studies have arrived at the conclusion that the brain retains more information with the help of visual aids. In other words, images are directly processed by our long-term memory, which helps us store information for longer periods of time.[2]

    While some lessons can be performed orally, several concepts can only make sense if you have an image with an explanation of sequences (i.e. learning about human DNA).

    Visual learning does use a different part of the brain, and visual cues are processed by the part of the brain known as the occipital lobe.

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    By engaging more parts of the brain during learning, you’re able to have a fuller understanding of concepts and facilitate better interaction with your immediate environment.

    How to Use Visual Learning for Success

    Here are 4 ways to use visual learning to boost your career or business:

    1. Bring Back the To-Do List

    We live in an age where computers have taken over virtually every aspect of productivity and most human functions. However, written lists are making a comeback, and with an endless number of important tasks to complete, having a to-do list of tasks in order of importance can improve your productivity.

    While coming up with a list is initially challenging, adding colors and shapes to written lists that you personally write and manage gives you an extra layer of assurance and aids recall so that you actually get stuff done.

    I have tried this technique in my work as a registered nurse and discovered that adding shapes and colors to to-do lists helps me delegate tasks, recognize where more work is needed, and makes it easy to cross off completed tasks at the end of the day.

    2. Add Graphs, Charts, and Symbols to Reports

    Yes, it seems like more work for you, but graphs enable you to monitor the heartbeat of your business.

    Graphs and charts help you find trends in your finances, make a budget, and analyze data overtime. With the help of free and premium software available on the market, it has become easier to take plain data and convert it to relevant information displayed in different shapes and images in a matter of minutes.

    As an entrepreneur, you can make predictions and allocate funds wisely when you’re able to see whether your efforts are rewarded. You can use colors and charts to delegate actions to members of your team and track performance at the same time.

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    When broken down into monthly, quarterly, bi-annual, or annual goals, graphs and charts communicate what ordinary text cannot.

    3. Effectively Brainstorm With Mind-Mapping

    With mind-mapping, you’re organizing information accurately and drawing relationships between concepts and pieces from a whole, which is a great way to tap into visual learning.

    Think of a mind map as a tree with several branches. For example, the tree can symbolize healthcare, while each branch stands for nursing, medicine, laboratory science, and so on. When you look at nursing, you can further branch out into types of nursing; pediatric, women’s health, critical care, and so on.

    It’s an interesting relationship; the more ideas you’re able to come up with for your chosen subject, the deeper you get and the stronger the association.

    Mind maps really show you relationships between subjects and topics, and simplifies processes that might seem complicated at first glance. In a way, it is like a graphical representation of facts presented in a simple, visual format.

    Mind mapping isn’t only limited to career professionals; business owners can benefit from mind mapping by organizing their online learning activities and breaking down complex tasks into simple actions so that you can accurately measure productivity.

    4. Add Video Streaming to Meetings

    What if you could double the productivity of your team members by video streaming your meetings or adding flash animation to your presentation?

    When you offer video as an alternative method of processing information to colleagues, there is a greater chance of retaining information because we recreate these stories as images in our minds.

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    For organizations that hold virtual meetings, it can also be an effective way to enhance performance as people can see their colleagues in addition to whatever form of video is provided during the meeting.

    Final Thoughts

    The question is not whether visual learning is better than the other learning styles. Each has their merits and situations where they will be most useful.

    The goal here is to supplement your existing dominant learning style with visual learning so that you can experience a significant boost in how you process and use everyday information.

    You might discover that understanding scientific concepts is much easier after incorporating visual learning or that you’re able to understand your organization’s value when projected on a visual screen with charts and graphs.

    The overall goal is to always be learning and to continue to leverage visual learning style in your career and business.

    More About Learning Styles

    Featured photo credit: You X Ventures via unsplash.com

    Reference

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