6 Warning Signs of Bad Clients
It’s an age-old question: Can one rotten apple spoil the whole barrel? Maybe. Can one bad client ruin your entire practice? Probably not.
But dealing with a difficult client can certainly affect your day, in terms of your mood, your productivity and your finances.
And if you have several challenging people to deal with, it can limit your success over the long run, to work with clients who drain your energy, violate your boundaries, disrespect your policies, or in some other way do not fit comfortably with you and your wellness biz.
How do you handle negative client challenges? Do you have policies and procedures to handle – or even better, prevent – sticky situations? As you can see in the “About” section of my website, I am very selective about my clients. I state exactly whom I work with and whom I don’t.
But it was not always so! In the beginning of my massage career – probably like you – I took on anyone and everyone who wanted to work with me, despite sometimes sensing that I might regret it. And guess what – every single time I’ve taken on a non-ideal client, it was a disappointment or a downright disaster! Either their attitude was negative or they missed appointments or their credit card declined or they didn’t follow my suggestions. And sometimes they blamed me when their condition didn’t improve!
Even if you’re hungry for new clients, it’s usually not worth the hassle to take on non-ideal ones. Not only can such a customer disrupt your day, their presence in your practice closes off better opportunities.
If you don’t get a positive feeling from a prospect, listen to your intuition. In assessing a new prospect or reassessing an existing non-ideal client, here’s how to weed out the “bad apples,” with 6 reasons to NOT work with someone – no matter how much you need clients! Avoid working with people who make trouble!
Make sure all your policies are clearly explained in your intake paperwork and that the client reads and agrees to abide by them. Prepare in advance by writing and rehearsing scripts for difficult client issues!
For the most success and satisfaction in your practice, there are certain “bad apple” clients you shouldn’t work with, no matter how much you need the money! Avoid working with people who:
1. Don’t show up for the initial appointment. This could be an indication that the person is not prompt and punctual, or that they test boundaries. It’s up to you whether to give them a second chance. But unless you’re convinced that their reason is legit, do yourself a favor and pass on this person to clear the space for an Ideal Client who respects your time.
2. Don’t follow instructions, such as filling out pre-session paperwork. I send intake forms to new clients prior to their first session. This serves 2 purposes: it saves time at the first appointment and it gives a peek at this person’s MO. If they don’t comply with requests or instructions, they’re sending a clear message that this is how they operate. If they don’t follow instructions from the get-go, it’s unlikely they will change once they start working with you. You don’t need people like this in your practice. Tell them they don’t qualify to work with you and move on.
3. Are rude to you or your staff. There’s absolutely no excuse for someone to be rude or disrespectful to you or anyone who works in your business. Let this person know that they are not a good fit for your way of doing business. When you overlook or tolerate someone’s rudeness, you send a signal that their behavior is acceptable and they may repeat it.
More warning signs of difficult clients – they…
4. Whine, complain, resist, make excuses, tell lies.
5. Ask if you have a money-back guarantee. (Yes, you should have this policy, but be wary of people who ask about it upfront.)
6. Try to negotiate on price, ask for a discount or criticize your fees.
To reach the point in your business where your schedule is always full, you need to set high standards for how you want to work. If you’re just starting out, get it right from the start. If you’ve been in business for a while, but you don’t work exclusively with ideal clients, it’s time to set and keep higher standards! The Prosperous Practice Home Study System gives you a step-by-step guide to marketing your practice with fun, creativity and effectiveness! Weed out the bad apples!