Holmes Report Blog

The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Firing Your Clients: Todd Defren of Shift Communications has an interesting blog post (hat tip to David Jones) about his recent decision to "fire" several of the agency's clients--in each case because the account demanded over-servicing and "we felt that our team members were not getting the respect that they richly deserved from these clients."

Good for him, although the "flabbergasted" reaction of some of these clients notwithstanding, I think this kind of thing has become more common in recent years.

The first time anyone ever paid me for a consulting assignment, it was to find out why they were hemorrhaging people at such an alarming rate. It usually comes down to bad managers or bad clients, and in this case it was clearly the latter. I sat down with the CEO of the firm and we went through the agency's 50 or so clients one by one asking three questions: is the account profitable; is the work interesting; and does the client treat our people with respect?

It was fascinating to me that when the answer to one of those questions is "no," the answer to the other two is almost always the same. This firm had three or four clients who failed all three tests--getting rid of them should have been an easy decision, and to her credit the CEO did. I spent the next six months worrying that I had counseled my first client into bankruptcy, but the decision paid off: a re-energized staff quickly replaced the lost revenues and was motivated by the CEO's decision to place their interests first.

Now I would advise every agency to perform such an analyisis on a regular basis. I have never heard of an agency executive who regretted a decision to fire a client made for the right reasons. h

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