As a business owner, choosing your clients carefully is a key part of successful partnerships.
In order to foster great working relationships, it’s a good idea to seek out customers that mesh well with your services and culture. It is normal for clients to have certain expectations of their providers when they contract out work — but did you know that it is also normal for you as a vendor to have certain standards for your clients?
After all, most of us have favorite partnerships — the ones that deliver clear instructions, pay promptly, and are easy to work with. These clients make our lives easy. Then, there’s the few bad apples that sour the bunch. These are the accounts that change the scope of the work mid-project, delay payment on invoices, or just don’t mesh well with our processes.
While it may be tempting to take whatever opportunities come your way, it is not always beneficial for the health of your company. Sometimes the lure of new business can cause you to overlook important red flags that may warn of problems down the road.
You can help prevent these pitfalls by scoping out potential customers during the initial consultation phase. This way, you’ll be able to ensure that your hard work and effort is spent nurturing the best possible long-term relationships. Here’s how to start.
1. Don’t be afraid to vet your clients
When you started your business, did you feel like you had to take every opportunity for work that came your way, even if it wasn’t a good fit for your skills or rate? Most of us have a story like that, and while every new company has to hustle at the very beginning, you shouldn’t feel the need to agree to every prospect — especially once you’re established.
While late nights and extra hard work are the norm for every new business, you should set up some boundaries once you’re on an even footing. Don’t be afraid to vet your clients and seek out only those that meet your standards.
When you meet for a consult, ask lots of questions. See what their needs are and think about whether or not you are the best provider to help them. Don’t be afraid to be upfront about what you need out of a partnership. This candid conversation can help you determine if this potential client is indeed a great fit.
2. Get clear on expectations
Do you find yourself saying, “yes” too often? Do you frequently get stuck working more than you originally planned, cutting corners on your rates to make a deal successful, or working on projects far longer than the scope of your agreement initially outlined? If so, then you might need to start implementing some clear mandates in your client contracts.
Start by sitting down together on a call or in-person and carefully going over expectations. Define success ahead of time and make an actionable plan for reaching that desirable outcome. This conversation can save you a world of headache down the road — with a clear path to follow, you’ll know exactly what is expected of you in order to satisfy the customer.
If you find that your client is reaching outside the scope of the expectations and plan you outlined together, you will be able to point back to your initial discussion as a way of finding common ground.
3. Choosing the right clients will help your business
Remember that, in the end, being hired is a two-way street. From the client’s perspective, your quality of work and professionalism are vital to the success of their project. Conversely, your ability to grow and scale your business depends on relationships with clients that help you reach your goals.
If you are spending too much time working for the lowest rates or trying to meet impossible demands, it will drain your ability to seek and support new business relationships. Don’t make the mistake of giving away the golden goose for less-than-stellar prospects. Instead, vet your clients, set clear expectations, and make sure that you are choosing the best partners with whom to grow your business.
At VendorSmart, we understand that third-party vendor relationships are critical to the success of any association or condo. Our software and team of industry professionals guarantee full compliance vetting for every vendor employed by your management company at no cost to you or the vendor. Want to learn more? Schedule a demo today.