Save your sanity... Love 'em or Leave 'em!

Why do we keep doing jobs, for clients who drive us mental?

Ever had that pyscho ex that just drove you mental?

Yep, that’s the one - and if you have no clue what I'm talking about you're pretty darn lucky, so in that case just think of a time your mate or family member did.

It basically goes something like this... at first everything was just peachy, all the pyscho tell tail signs were there but ignored and then next minute you've wiped the shit off your eyes and you're cussing and screaming in your pillow, dreading all communication and looking for a way out. You eventually get to a point where you can’t anymore, and finally you save your sanity and break-up.

Not much different to that dreaded client who just keeps coming back for more.

Luckily for us the business world is slightly different to the “norm” of the dating world, where the more the merrier. So why do we keep doing jobs, for clients who drive us mental?

Looking back at the 80:20 Rule (Pareto Principle) 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients, and likewise can be said for 80% of your problems come from 20% of you clients. We can use this to start categorising and rewarding those clients we love working with and those who we don’t. It’s also a way to increase your productivity by attracting and accepting the right type of clients.

One way to do this is with the ABCD Client Model. Rank each of your clients using one of the four client categories:

ABCD Client Model

A – AWESOME (LOVE 'EM)


These are the clients you love working with. You connect easily, they bring you more business, pay well in advance, love what you do and are always referring new business to you. You often find yourself wanting to do the job yourself and going the extra mile for them.

Customer Service Tip: Constantly keep in touch with these clients, send them gifts (CNE – critical non-essentials) and find ways to continue doing business with them

Marketing tip: Use these clients to start defining your target markets. Target marketing helps you fine tune your message to get more AWESOME clients we love.

B – BASIC BREAD & BUTTER (LIKE 'EM)


Basic bread and butter clients are the ones you like, they are easy to work with and have potential to be awesome clients (your relationship with them might still be new). These clients pay their bills on time and the type of job that you tend to schedule your tradies on.

Customer Service Tip: Ask these clients for feedback to help improve your customer service, systems etc. These clients will often give you the honest truth as they are not blinded by love for you and everything that you do.

Take on their feedback and make the necessary improvements to your business. This is also an opportunity to get to know them better… the ultimate goal is to get them to be A grade clients.

C – CROSSROADS (LEVEL UP or LET GO)


The crossroads category is for those clients you just not sure how you feel about, you’re not sure if you like them or want to leave them. You or the tradies are just there to do the job and there’s no real relationship. These clients constantly query your prices, ask for discounts and only communicate on their terms. The lack of communication often brings about issues that you didn’t really need to deal with in the first place.

Often the crossroad client arises when they unsure of the process and our expectations of them are unclear. Of-course we want all our clients in this quadrant to level up and become B-grade clients, so with these clients its worthwhile a conversation to set your expectations, and educate them on what and how you work. From there you can decide if you will level them up to B-grade clients or…. Let them go!

D – DREADED (LEAVE 'EM)


Remember those dreaded clients that account for 80% of your headaches? This is the quadrant for them. How you know they belong here is pretty simple, these are the clients who you just can’t make happy, they constantly complain no matter what you do. They are energy and resource vampires draining you and your business and to top it off, they don’t pay on time or worse than that, they don’t pay at all.

Finish the job then delist, delete and add them to the dead to me pile. Let your competitors deal with them, so you can focus more of your time and energy on you’re A-B-C Clients.

Examining these lists alone can tell you a lot about what’s happening in your business, if you have been focusing on the right customers and much much more. Most of all it helps you make a few small changes that, that can lead to better results and peace of mind.

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