The Three Types of Clients

phone_shout_man1Guest Editorial

Greetings from the great state of Alabama!  Roll Tide Roll….

Need Help Springing Forward?  Consider These Three Characters…

This past weekend, I performed the yearly Spring ritual of hunting down every clock in the house and pushing the hour hand one hour forward, as I joined with the rest of America in kicking off Daylight Saving Time, or as I think of it: Sleep Losing Time.  With the promise of Spring comes a long-ago memory of a past Spring Break during my vacation-less years, when my family called me from their favorite vacation spot while I stayed at work in order to stay in business and keep a roof over our heads.  Some of you may be in a similarly unfortunate position of not being able to take a vacation because you just can’t seem to get your business caught up to the point where you can take a week (or even a day!) off here or there.

I’ve been there.  I’ve known the frustration, disappointment, the exhaustion, and maybe even the panic of desperately attempting to gain enough forward momentum in the business in order to be able to stop and take a breather now and then.  My position of hindsight, having been on the receiving end of that gut-kicking call from my kids at the beach, asking why Daddy can’t be there, compels me to share with you some knowledge borne of my own years in the skip-tracing business that may just help you gain a foothold to launch yourself out of that sand-trap, and have some hope of salvaging your vacation plans this year.

Let’s begin with the “The Three Types of Clients”.  Without clients, one does not have a business; they have a hobby.  In future posts we will cover “The Three Types of Tracers”, “The Three Types of Skips “and “The Three Types of Tracing”

So you ask why all these Threes?  The number three is generally attributed with a meaning of completeness:  A beginning, a middle, an end.  Birth, life, death.  Past, present, future.  Sun, Moon, Earth.  Two lines cannot connect without a third line to form the heavily symbolic triangle.  Notwithstanding the obvious allusion to the Holy Trinity in Christianity, religions of many varieties are chock full of occurrences of threes.  And when have you ever heard a Genie offering less than three wishes?  Oh, and don’t forget one helpful bit of advice when you’re outside:  “Leaves of three:  Let them be!” (Poison Ivy)

Moving past that bit of botanical advice, the astrology, geometry, religion and numerology, I want to show you how understanding the Three Types of Clients, and knowing how to deal with them, may make your next vacation possible.

Commonly accepted business logic tells us that the more clients you have, the more profitable your company becomes, right?  Well the surprising answer to that question is “NO.”  I look at every client as a relationship, and just as with any relationship in our personal lives, the complexity, the frustration, and the time-consuming nature of a relationship can produce lifelong rewarding experiences or, sadly, bitterness and loss.

Clients come in all shapes and sizes, but when you break it down to simple third-grade math, all clients can be characterized as one of these “Three Types of Clients”.  As business men and women it is critical that we understand each type and how to deal with them, so that we can provide the best client experience possible, while wisely reaping the best return on our investments of time and resources.  It can mean the difference between profit and loss, family time or work time.  Below is a description of the Three Types, but perhaps more importantly, some helpful ideas for increasing your revenue, while decreasing the drama in your life.

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  1. 1.   It’s all about ME:

When I first opened the doors to my skip company (oh-so-many years ago), a dear friend warned me that high-maintenance and no money spells disaster!  Over the years I have learned to add a little more to that simple statement: Failure in any business relationship occurred at the point of sale!  You see we get so excited about the pending opportunity that we move forward too fast without fully comprehending the expectations and/or needs of the client.  When this happens failure is almost certain unless you can somehow take a step back and re-open a dialog with the client to start afresh, which is difficult to do as you only get one chance to start a relationship.

There are those people that, no matter how much time, attention, and resources are devoted to the relationship they will never be happy, as their expectations are unrealistic and their one-sided inflexibility on any stance won’t allow the situation to improve.  What happens here is you end up spending so much time on this one client that it ends up affecting your performance with everyone else, while the Me-Me-Me client sucks all the time, resources, and profit out of the rest of your business operation.

The moral here is to always clarify expectations on the front end, so that no surprises develop further in, and then you can avoid the revenue-sucking human vacuum/black hole/money pit before it can take root in your life.

One Key Point:  Understand that there is nothing wrong with letting someone know that you may not be a good fit for their needs.  At the same time, keep this in mind: when possible have these kiss-off conversations in person, not via email or fax, as you want to separate on good terms and keep an open door for future work should circumstances change.

 

  1. 2.   Remember Me?:

This is the client that will randomly contact you with a request or complaint maybe a couple times a month, and in most cases their needs are valid and need to be addressed and the task should be completed the same day.  With this type of client, you always want to exceed expectations no matter the request, because this is the kind of client that will be in it with you for the long haul.  It is important to always keep these clients informed of new products or processes you come up with, as often both parties get complacent with each other and lose out on valuable opportunities for improving methods and increasing revenue.

Due to the relative lack of interaction with you, perception may be a killer with this type of client.  They may only think you work in one area, have one skill set, or have one widget.  It is your duty to educate the client about all of your available skills, resources and services.  With a bit of conscious effort in this area you can double your overall value to the client, which in turn will double your revenue.

 

  1. 3.   Under the Radar:

These are the clients you never hear from: they remain with you month-in and month-out, silent and unknown.  At most you may speak to them once a year, if that, and you may mistakenly view them as a very low-yield revenue client.  The issue is you have spent so much time dealing with the high maintenance clients that you have not had the time to cultivate any relationship here and may be missing out on a larger opportunity!  Because of the lack of communication, you may fail to realize that they may have a need you can fulfill.

This is where change is needed and where you need to make a concerted effort to re-evaluate the relationship.  A quick visit for lunch or a couple dozen doughnuts can go a long way in opening the lines of communications.  I also like using an old-school survey with all clients to see how I am doing and what improvements may be needed in my service, or what other services the client would like me to add.  It develops the potential to add revenue streams to your bottom line.

 

Indulge me a moment, while I look back:  When I had my skip company operating at full speed, I had four major clients that sent me so much work, it was a 12-hour a day job just keeping up with expectations.  Each one of them fell into the high maintenance/big money category, but I never had a chance to build the business with the other two types of clients.  So in a way I was held captive at the whims of the big 4.  Control of my own business became an illusion, because I was chained to a desk, working 365 days a year without the benefit of truly being my own boss.  Now remember that phone call from my kids at the beach that I told you about earlier?

Looking back it’s easy to see the mistakes I made, yet recently I was speaking to a client that I have had very little contact with, and I was shocked to find out that they had over 300 collectors and a 6 million dollar portfolio.  My lack of communication with them had masked the true potential sitting right under my nose.  Had they not reached out to me after attending one of my webinars, this business relationship would have never grown.  We each would have chugged along in our rutted tracks, and things never would have developed.

I’m not too proud to admit that an old dog like me needs to review once in a while, so join me now:  (1) Good communication habits are a must in your client relations.  (2) Blue Chip does not always mean green backs.  (3) Just because you never heard from them, or OF them, does not mean there is no revenue there to be garnered.  Those are THREE (3!) points to seriously consider!

Until Next Time… Be Blessed, Be Safe and Happy Hunting!

alex_price_1About the Author:

Alex Price is a nationally-recognized expert on the Art of Skip Tracing. Currently he is the Executive Vice President of MasterFiles and author of Skip Tracers National Certification Program, The Florida Records Guide, The Military Installations Guide and blogger with over 25+ years of experience in skip-tracing, collections and public speaking.

Alex Price has become a highly sought-after speaker in the auto recovery, bail enforcement and financial service industries. He combines old school skip-tracing methods with new age cyber-tracking technology to equip attendees with tools that he gained through invaluable experience.  He balances the hard facts about skips with just the right amount of humor and a touch of southern charm.

Contact Info:  alex.price@masterfiles.com , Office: (972) 735-2353, Fax: (972) 735-2354

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