Who are the worst clients you’ve ever had?
This is a question we often get asked after 21 years. When we reflect on the relationships we’ve created, and this is very much a relationship business, we zone in on one or two people (individuals) and one or two actual companies as a whole, who fit that description as worst clients.
I will let Jeremy expand on this in another, more specific blog, but I can summarise the characteristics of ‘worst’ quite easily. There are slow payers, clients that make you jump through pointless hoops, clients that try and play around with figures and contracts, and also clients that generally mess you around. None of that makes them the worst.
The worst clients are those who book us, for no other reason, than to tick a box. To give their staff an entertaining session, a sheep dip, instead of a pay rise. ‘To pay them more, £1 an hour will cost us hundreds of thousands, but to book Reality for a few sessions costs a few grand and makes them feel invested in…' ‘To tease their staff that they are being invested in, when really, those that book us resent the investment, and don’t think their people deserve it. To train internal people to train their staff, and then have us travel around the country ‘watching’ them do it… - what a waste of time and talent, in every sense.
The worst clients are the ones who do all of that, and don’t actually believe in, or want to engage with, the change their brands require.
I remember many years ago working with a retailer, and to make sure their Regional Managers were on the same page, we trained them all over a day. One said to me afterwards that ‘After 40 years in the business, this was the best day I have ever had, in it.’ So, the brand actually wanted management to buy in, engage with and cascade the message.
Other companies have NO interest whatsoever in that. ‘When will it be finished?’ ‘How much will expenses be?’ ‘Do we really need to get people together?’ ‘Can’t we do it on Zoom and get away with it?’ ‘I’m not sure we need this much input because, I don’t think our staff are really bright enough to get all this.’ Someone in HR said this to me once. ‘It’s an event, so cram as much content in as you can, and they’ll feel they’ve had some training…’ ‘Actually, when you’re doing the training, could you tell them about the new incentive structure…’ (deliver band news).
If you run a company, with staff, then you MUST invest in them. If not with us, then with someone else. Do it for the right reasons, and make sure you have everyone from the top down, engaged.
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