I used to freak out when I was fired. I’d grovel, offer free service, anything to win the customer back.
But now when I get fired, it’s a relief.
Because you know what? Calm companies stay the course and don’t freak out.
The email below came from one of my long-time customers, whom I love and enjoyed working with through the years:
Toby,Email from a customer who fired me.
While we were waiting for your quote, we hired a different local WordPress consultant.
She was immediately available, and her fees were somewhat lower than yours, so we hired her on the spot.
We were able to pay her by the hour without a retainer.
That work only took her a few hours, so we had her do a bunch of other WordPress development work and SEO work.
Concurrently, we got your quote, but the work was already underway, in emergency mode.
My Gut Reaction
What was clear immediately after reading the email is that this former customer of mine found a better fit.
And I am legitimately happy for them.
They want someone who:
- is available now.
- works for less than I do.
- and works without a guaranteed minimum commitment (i.e. a retainer).
I am none of those things.
Because I run a calm company.
The Agitated Company
If you couldn’t guess, the person above runs an Agitated Company. A highly-successful one at that.
In an agitated company, everything is an emergency!
When you work with an agitated company, you get bombarded with emails. No, Buried in emails! Everyone and their mom is CC’d, too!
And stuff needs to get done now!
Like I said, Agitated.
And, as you know, Agitated Companies are a poor fit for Calm Companies.
I know, because I used to be an Agitated Company.
Back in the day, I got along great with agitated companies, and this guy and me worked oh so well together!
I’d work day and night, neglecting myself and everyone around me, doing the agitated work I’d immersed myself in.
Calm Company In Practice
My gut feeling when I was fired by this long-time customer was relief and happiness.
Relief that my life just became a little calmer.
Happiness that this person found a perfect solution to their problem.
I’m totally serious about that. The customer is a good person and is doing his best in life and business.
(And like I said, he runs a highly-successful & profitable company.)
I replied to his “firing” email and thanked him for letting me know and also let him know that I’m thankful he found someone to do the work.
Getting Fired Makes Us More Anti-Fragile
Getting fired is, perhaps, the best first step to making your biz more anti-fragile.
Losing customers can be hard, but it’s in everyone’s best interest to part ways when it’s not a great fit.
For example, I have a different former customer who continually asks me for free work.
“It’s just a little menu change!” He’ll send in a curt email.
“I’m happy to help. Here are two ways we can proceed together to get the work done quickly… Which option would you like to move forward with?”I say in response.
“It’s just a tiny little video link,” he’ll reply.
You get the idea – he doesn’t like paying money for things.
In years past, maybe I would have done this quick, free work. But that never ended well, because:
- I set a precedent of free work.
- The work I just did would break the website in an unexpected way and I’d realize I just created more (free) work for myself to complete! A perfect storm of crap, all of my own causing!
So now I just say, “No”. Or rather, I give all customers a set of reasonable options. If they’re unwilling to choose from a set of reasonable options, then…
Honestly, I’ve been losing lots of my long-time customers lately.
And that’s okay, because my company has always been changing.
Those who were once a great fit when I sold beautiful WordPress code are no longer a great fit when I’m selling bringing joy to your digital life.
And that’s totally cool! I truly wish them well.
In fact, I’ll even help my former customers find a better fit!
I’m constantly looking for little paths to improvement in my life. If I worked every day to maintain bad-fit customers, I’d only change for the worse.
The Counter-intuitive & Amazing Thing About A Business Inline With My Values
So in addition to losing some customers, I’ve been onboarding new customers at an amazing clip.
New customers who truly understand how I can help them be even more amazing! New customers who are paying me to live my values.
A Quick Example Of How We Brought Joy To A Customer’s Life Today
Just this morning we published an article to a customer’s WordPress blog via our WordPress Virtual Assistant service.
It took us only a few minutes, but she’s super duper happy we did that for her!
Sounds simple, and it is simple!
What wasn’t so simple was figuring out why I work…
My recent Google Reviews are from people who are a good fit for my values.
They see my value prop.
But ya know what? As I change and they change, probably some day we’ll no longer be a great fit and we’ll part ways.
And when that happens, I’ll be happy for them and me.
p.s. As you probably noticed, I stupidly broke my own rule about RFP’s. Just another example of why I never respond to RFPs or Custom Proposals.
p.p.s. I have finally added a “subscribe” email list to this blog. Subscribe to get my blog posts before anyone else!