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Below are the comments I left on Dawn Rivers Baker’s blog a few days ago:

Dawn, I actually apply your points to “why I fire my clients.” We keep a squeaky clean client list because I get to choose to do business with people who:

(a) value what we do (since we’re good at it),

(b) understand and value the fact that we must work with clients who value what we do, and

(c) value what they do enough to pay me to teach them how to run their businesses smarter, more efficiently and more profitably.

A lot of people get skirmish when I talk about firing clients… especially when I’m talking to clients.  But let me be honest, in this new global economy, our firm only has to do business with clients who meet the above three criteria.  It’s wide open out there, and we choose to work with clients who value what we do.  Value is one of the main reasons why we keep serving our clients.

You do a disservice to your clients when you DON’T fire the bad ones because you eventually provide poor service to those you don’t want to serve.  Do yourself a favor (and your clients), let them go so they can get the service they crave elsewhere if in fact they don’t crave what you offer.

And I hope my current clients see that we value them so much that we are unwilling to allow dead weight to remain on our client list and hinder our service to the clients who value what we do.

Hear me good clients: I love to serve you, and I am willing to do all things necessary to continue providing the best service to you.

Hear me bad clients: your days are numbered (and the number is very small).

Got any “why I fire my clients” stories?  Share them in the comments, would ya?

image-from-netsearchdirect.comOur firm has some innovative ways to enhance and help professional and medical practices learn more about their business.  We can help them know more about the financial and operational aspects of their practices in ways they’ve not known before.  And it’s an approach that other firms simply can’t compete with.  And we’re passionate about teaching our clients these truths.

But this service doesn’t have a “package” yet.  It has a process that works, but not the outside clothing to identify what that service is to our clients.  We currently perform this service for some clients, but there are still so many more that don’t know what we can do, and what they can have in their practices.

I’m working with my business coach on developing this new service in our firm because I need a face to this “product”.  It’s hard to sell something you are passionate about, but which no one else can see the benefit in.  I believe I can enhance what we are selling with the right “product packaging”.

So I’m not really in search of a service… I’m in search of the “packaging” to go with the innovative way our firm performs these services.

Do you offer services that are innovative, and highly valuable to your clients?  Do you have the proper packaging to be able to sell them to the public?  Tell me how you do it in the comments.  I need help, dang it.

“Whats in the workflow gets used”

I heard that quote recently on a podcast.

That’s the core thought of our management consulting with our larger clients.  If an owner doesn’t have the right information, or wants different information to make decisions with, or wants predictive information to stay ahead of their competition, it’s usually because they haven’t designed their internal systems to capture that data.

Many business owners overlook the value of getting the proper information in their workflow so they can use it to make real decisions.

Your competitors are doing it, are you?  Do you even know what I’m talking about?  Leave it in the comments.

My Model Week, which is a model of how I plan to spend my time each week, has a special time allotment from 1:00 pm until 2:30 pm each Friday.  It’s a spot I look forward to because it allows me to do what I love.  That block of time is titled “Write/Research/Internal Growth & Development”.

That title sounds pretty weird for a CPA who is running a CPA/Consultancy firm.  But, actually, I think time to be internally innovative and focus on growth and development in your organization should be normal for everyone in business.

As you and I work in our companys from day to day, busy with the many activities we have to manage, we lose the forward-thinking lenses of Innovation.  Allowing time in your schedule for Innovation (or self-evaluation of your personal and business operational habits, as I think of it sometimes) will allow you to stay fresh in your industry. 

Innovation will allow you to stop thinking the same way you were thinking when you started your company.  What has stopped working in your business?  Have you even noticed?

Innovation will allow you to out think your competition.  What is your next business move, acquisition or strategic development of a new line of revenue?

Innovation will allow you to change your business model to better meet your client/customers’ needs.  You think you know what they are, but do you really?

Innovation will allow you to question, question, question your future in your industry, why anyone would ever want to do business with you, and how you fare against your competition.  Well, why would anyone want to do business with you?

Innovation will allow you to do something that might be taboo in a lot of industries, but which is critical for all industries and their owners… change.  Are you able to change from year to year as needed and dictated by the market and your clients?

I would go as far as to say that time to reflect on Innovation in your business is urgent.  That means you must do it now!  Your competitors are innovating, questioning their models of business, changing how they do things and improving.  You must also… of you will not survive.

So you don’t have time for innovative thought now?  Will you answer the same way 10 years from now?

To whom it may concern-

I’ve recently become acutely aware of how you run your cable utility company due to the recent purchase of my first TV. In addition (to our dismay), our family decided to bundle our services and choose your company to provide our home with cable TV, phone service and Internet.

You need to be aware that your inability to properly operate internally and provide excellent, no basic, customer service puts your organization in danger of being out performed and pushed out of the marketplace.  Your industry’s false deregulation in 1996, and  exclusive contracts with state and local governments will eventually be your downfall.

This is a warning that your mediocrity can’t last forever.

There are four general areas where I have seen the failures of your internal operating systems to correct customer problems and sufficiently meet their needs:

1. Lack of adequate access. There are two primary ways that I can access your company – through your tech support call centers and through the contractors you sub your installation services to.  I’ve sought to access someone above these authorities, and that option is unavailable to me as the customer. These two means of access are probably manned by your lowest waged employee and an outside contractor who is not even under your direct management and control. It is an unwise business move to allow your lowest waged employee to manage the direct interaction with your customer, or subcontract your most important business function (which is directly tied to your customer’s satisfaction) outside your ability to train, manage and improve that business function.  Your customers need additional access to someone besides these employees and subcontractors so that we may offer amicable suggestions to improving your quality and service.

2. Inconsistency of service. Unfortunately, the only consistent thing about your service is that it is always inconsistent. My experience with your company is that I may or may not be able to receive calls or call 911 when needed, or watch the Carolina/Clemson game once a year, or write blog posts on the internet as a means to enhance communication with my clients (i’m writing this post on my iPhone).  As I’ve written before, Consistency is the means by which you create trust with your customer and develop loyalty as to your commitment to their continued satisfaction.  Your consistent inconsistency shows that you are not aware of the fact that you are damaging your trust and loyalty with your customers… I’m just letting you know.

3. Improper pay structure.  “Installation specialists” got paid when they should have had pay deducted.  You can not continue to operate in this way.  The installers that visited my house recently did not perform their job accurately, and yet I’m sure they were paid.  If their pay structure is similar to another service provider I worked for in a similar industry, then they get paid for the number of jobs performed in a day, NOT for the excellent or accurate service they provide.  If these “installation specialists” are the main interaction with your customer (see point #1), then your customer should have the ability to rate their service and ultimately affect their pay.  And you should care about this as well – you had to send some of your own employees to complete the job the installers could not sufficiently finish.  This is a business decision – your bottom line will be bigger by simply deducting pay from your installers when they perform a poor service (to cover the cost of having to send your own employees to fix their mistakes), and offering bonuses to installers who go above and beyond the basic service required of them.

4. Improper use of automated services.  Since my interaction with your service I received numerous automated calls to thank me for my business, make sure everything was okay and that I’m enjoying my cable service (which was delayed for a number of days).  These automated services tend to upset me when I know there is no remedy for the service you provide.  I know the truth – I have no voice with your company.  This is proven due to the two access points you allow me with your company (again, see point #1).  I know WHOM you want me to deal with, and that proves your honest lack of interest in my feedback.  So please save some more money and stop the automated calls to my home, when I know I can not reach a real person at your organization to honestly voice my complaints and needs.

All I have is my blog to rat you out on the Internet.  I feel better now…  but I hope it ultimately helps your customers.

(and for my clients who read this blog, use these points as a list of what NOT to do in your business)

Thanks, Jason M. Blumer

Just Tweeted by @JasonBlumer…

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