My daughter has a beautiful dollhouse, the one I always wanted as a kid. It has balconies, framed windows and a front door that swings open and shut. I vividly remember the Christmas Eve we set it up, and the light in her eyes the next morning when she discovered it. But there is one problem with the dollhouse.
We don’t have room for it.
At first it resided in the sun room (a room everyone else, despite my best efforts, calls the playroom) where it hulked in a corner, regularly casting off small pieces of furniture and tiny dishes. Eventually it moved to her room where it consumed even more valuable real estate, sharing a 10 x 12 space with a queen-sized bed, a dresser, a desk and bookcase. There it remained long past the point where she played with it, a cumbersome but treasured reminder of the past.
We finally packed away the dollhouse this spring. It now resides in a crate in a storage closet where it consumes not-quite-as-prime real estate. Even though packing it away made us feel sentimental (and a little blue), the reward – a big, wide open space we could put to better use – was well worth the initial pain.
In my last post I talked about how to absorb new business, but in any small business, there could be customers who eventually take on that hulking presence in the corner. Here are some warning signs that it may be time to let go of a customer.
- They are consuming a huge and/or disproportionate percentage of your resources and staff time.
- You suspect (or know) that the account is no longer profitable.
- You no longer enjoy the work and suspect someone else could bring the passion to it that it deserves.
- Servicing this account prevents you from taking on other work that is more appropriate for your business.
I know you love your customers. They’ve been with you from the start. They’ve stuck with you through thick and thin. But if they’re keeping your business from moving on you are not doing yourself – or them – any favors.
In my next post: How to gracefully say goodbye.
Ever fired a customer? Send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org. If I use them, I’ll feature your business.