This didn’t come as a complete shock as she had talked with me in December about scaling back her site. She had considered shutting her site down then, but wanted to give herself a little time to make sure that was the right decision.
So when I got the email on Monday that one of my first clients was going to leave, I wasn’t happy. I didn’t break into tears, but it’s always sad to see someone go. In my 2+ years of being in business, I’ve only lost a small handful of clients – and here are three things I’ve learned from them:
People Move On, So I Should Too
I think the most important thing to recognize when someone decides they want to move on is that it isn’t always my fault. Life happens and gets in the way. The best looking website can’t make a bad business plan work. People fall out of passion with their project or job.
Of course, I invested a lot of time and passion into helping them with their project – but in the end, it’s their baby. And if they don’t want to keep it going, that’s totally their call. I have to realize that the decision wasn’t a personal vendetta made against me, it was a decision based on where their life is now.
Take Time to Evaluate Why the Decision Was Made
My first ‘firing’ did come as a shock. After I had helped a client increase her search engine traffic by 50-75% by implementing some simple search engine optimization techniques, I was summarily fired. It wasn’t because I was charging too much (most of you would laugh hysterically if I told you what I was charging per month back when I was just getting started). It wasn’t for lack of results – I don’t know anyone that wouldn’t be happy with those results in such a short time period.
It was mostly for my lack of communication. I wasn’t constantly communicating with her, sharing what I was doing to get the results or even sharing the results. I’m sure she was keeping a watch on her traffic flow, but without me telling her what I was doing and why it was working – she felt that I wasn’t doing anything for her that she couldn’t do on her own. So I was fired. Which takes me to my next point..
Learn from the Experience
So now what?
After the dust settles, you adjust your budget accordingly, disable the auto-renewals for hosting and domains and then the real work begins. You’ve evaluated WHY the client left and put things in place to not make the same mistake again.
Speaking again of my first firing – lack of communication was the root cause. So I put in a rolling to-do list of all my clients to check in periodically, share information about their site and suggest improvements. I try to check in with each client once a month by email, phone call or scheduling a face to face meeting if they are local. I also instituted a email newsletter that I try to send out once a month to keep my clients up to date with things they should be practicing with their online presence. I also throw in new services or products that I’m offering to make sure everyone knows of other things that I could help them with, if they so wanted.
Thankfully, these aren’t lessons that I need to reflect on often. But it’s important to evaluate anything that happens to our businesses, good or bad. Things in business just don’t ‘happen’ – they happen for a reason.