Episode 135:

If you’ve ever hung out with me for more than 10 minutes, you’ve probably heard me say something like “there are no bad clients. But there are bad clients for YOUR agency.” I do believe that there’s an agency out there for every client. But it very well may not be yours. One of the most critical skills an agency owner/leader must develop is the ability to discern if a prospect belongs on your client roster.

Many of you have been emailing me lately asking me questions about problematic clients. And in some cases — they’re clients you never should’ve taken in the first place. You either haven’t yet developed the processes or the spidey sense to sniff out a bad prospect or even worse, you ignored that spidey sense.

We’ve all seen the money on the table and thought to ourselves, “Okay, I’m going to ignore that nagging feeling in my stomach and I’m going to take that client.” I’ve owned my own agency for 23 years and believe me, I’ve made that expensive mistake more than once. Every time I’ve ignored that little nudge saying, “Don’t do it Drew…don’t do it” — the nudge was right and I was wrong. I regretted taking that client and I’m guessing you’ve had the same experience.

The wrong clients, even if they have buckets of money, can literally kill your agency. A client that is not the right fit for your agency is almost impossible to make happy. So what do we do? We run around scrambling trying to make them happy. We do extra rounds of revisions that we don’t charge them for, and in the end, they’re still not happy.

Now we’re underwater and have lost money. We’ve literally paid for the privilege of serving that client. Or worse — the client berates your employees. They micromanage your team. They call or text 24/7 with no respect for boundaries.

And when you don’t step in to negate the situation because the client is giving you a lot of money, you’re at risk of losing your employees. In today’s tight labor market, your employees don’t have to stick around to work for in that environment.

Everyone thinks about “How do I find clients that make me money?” — but quite honestly, the first thing we should be thinking about is “how do I get rid of the clients that cost me money and how do I avoid them down the road?”

That’s what this episode of Build A Better Agency is all about. How you can find and keep clients who don’t cost you money. You can absolutely do this for your agency. And I’m going to show you how.



What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How agency profitability begins with attracting the right fit clients
  • How to identify the tangible and intangible things that make a client fit the “sweet spot” of your agency
  • Why you should rank every prospect whether they are knocking on your door, or you’re putting together a prospect list, or you’re getting ready to respond to an RFP
  • Why you should consider creating a “Biz Dev” committee within your agency to decide which prospects are the right fit prospects to pursue
  • How to put the “Sophistication Level Factor” to work inside your biz dev process
  • A specific process and tool you can use to kick-off your agency’s relationship with a new client in the right way — so it feels like a celebration and everyone is on the same page
  • How to provide a new client with the proper orientation of what it is like to work with your agency and the team they will be working with on a daily basis
  • The two key pieces to effective client communication and why staying in touch by email is not the answer
  • How a weekly status update can help your AEs gently nag a client so they stay focused on what they need to be doing and providing to your team
  • Why and how you as the agency owner should be spending time with the top 50 percent of your clients — demonstrating how much you love them and how committed you are to their success

Drew McLellan is the CEO at Agency Management Institute. He has also owned and operated his own agency since 1995 and is still actively running the agency today. Drew’s unique vantage point as being both an agency owner and working with 250+ small- to mid-size agencies throughout the year gives him a unique perspective on running an agency today.

AMI works with agency owners by:

  • Leading agency owner peer groups
  • Offering workshops for owners and their leadership teams
  • Offering AE Bootcamps
  • Conducting individual agency owner coaching
  • Doing on site consulting
  • Offering online courses in agency new business and account service

Because he works with those 250+ agencies every year — Drew has the unique opportunity to see the patterns and the habits (both good and bad) that happen over and over again. He has also written two books and been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Fortune Small Business. The Wall Street Journal called his blog “One of 10 blogs every entrepreneur should read.”

The Golden Nuggets:

When a client doesn’t do their part, doesn’t give you a budget, doesn't make time for your team and share the right information — they cost your agency money. That’s why you need to attract clients that are the right fit. - @DrewMcLellan Click To Tweet The wrong fit clients cost you money because projects exceed timelines and you spend a ton of account service time trying to get you what you need. Instead, define who your agency’s sweet spot clients are and stick to it. - @DrewMcLellan Click To Tweet Have a list of 8 to 10 tangible and intangible traits that the right fit client for your agency would possess and rank every prospect according to this list – no matter if they’re knocking on your door or if you’re pursuing them. - @DrewMcLellan Click To Tweet Your agency should create a handy guide to give each new client when you kick-off the relationship so they know your team, contact information, rules and methods for communication, billing process, and other important details. - @DrewMcLellan Click To Tweet You need to spend one-on-one time with each of your clients, doing something they love to do, and then asking them to share their perspectives on how your agency is doing and what you and your team can do even better. - @DrewMcLellan Click To Tweet


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