In life, we all know too well that we can never please everyone. For your business, you may encounter clients and employees who just can’t seem to work well around you. You may find them unhappy with their job or just plainly unmotivated. This undeniably hurts your business. The more they stay with you, the more they can cause harm. Ken and Kerri share some tragic experiences about bad employees and clients and say it’s all right to let people go. Using the metaphor of cancer, you need to be removing viral cancer as fast as you can or else they’ll continue to spread unnecessary bad energy to your entire business.
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Removing Viral Cancer
As you probably heard in episode 275, I have my wife all to myself because she decided to break her foot. Since she’s in a cast, we are going to cast her into the world through this podcast. We are going to sponge her brain for a couple few episodes. This is episode 276. The title is Get Rid of Cancer as Fast as Possible. We’re going to talk about both employees and clients. Kerri’s going to cover employees. I’m going to cover clients. I want to set the stage by saying if you physically saw cancer, maybe on your stomach, on your hand or even just on an X-ray image, wouldn’t you want it out of your body as fast as humanly possible? Cancer spreads like there is no tomorrow. On that concept, I want you to hold that figurative image in your mind that physical cancer spreads. I am going to let my gorgeous bride, Kerri, talk about cancer in employees.
Cancer spreads like there is no tomorrow. Click To Tweet
Many years ago, we had our first company and we’re getting ready to sell it. We had a video store, which is not the prime company to have now but back then it was. It tells you how long we’ve been in business. We were getting ready to sell the company and we had a particular director that we hired to watch over our chain of video stores. We had a bad feeling. You can tell he was getting a little frustrated that he had this responsibility. It was a little more than he anticipated. Since we were closing, he was very busy. He’s an older gentleman with a younger staff. That’s how it is and it’s very part-time. He was the director. He has to take care of all this.
We knew things were not working out. We decided that we will probably part company quicker than closing the store because of his negative attitude. We decided collectively, my husband and I and then there was another husband and wife that we’re partners with, in one of the stores. Together, made the decision to give him a two-week notice. I did not agree, but three to one is the majority. They won. I believe, and it’s particular to me, that if someone is unhappy, you make the decision to let them go immediately. What happens is there’s time for things to go awry. That’s exactly what happened. The first week was fine. He helped in the transition to give the other set of partners more responsibility, access codes, and whatnot.
However, by the time the second week came around, by Wednesday instead of Friday, he was nowhere to be found. This particular person, by Saturday, we found out had stolen not only money but two checks and a bunch of inventories. Since we had a chain of stores, it was difficult to find out. When people were coming up asking where this movie is, we found out, as well as the next week, we went to the bank and the money wasn’t there. He signed his name to our checks. The first check that went through, I filed a report to give you a little tidbit of information.
White collar crime is not as high on the radar as a criminal crime. Although we went to the bank and to the police, the second time he cashed the check, they still allowed it to happen. There was still was no repercussion with the bank. My point is when people know they’re leaving, they’re planning their own exit strategy, and not always to your advantage. I’m not going to say for everyone, but when you know someone has a negative attitude, you should just let them go right then and right there. They already know they’re unhappy. You know you’re unhappy. There is no need to stretch it out.
I want to add a quick nugget. We had a pretty good lunch with a gentleman named Cameron Herold. Cameron has taken at least two different companies from $3 million to $100 million. He says, “If you have a feeling that you have an employee that really needs to go, you need to let them go physically, immediately. You can give him a great severance package and you can take care of them as a person, but you’ve got to let them go because statistics show that that person is probably costing you fifteen times their annual salary and overall production because of cancer they are spreading.” I want to bridge this over to the same exact concept but talking about clients and customers.
Let’s say you have 50 good, regular customers but two or three of them drive you nuts. What if two or three of them suck up 15% to 40% of your staff’s time? What if a few of them are such a distraction, you might even lose employees over? Kerri and I have lived through every one of the things we’re mentioning. As a good friend of ours, David Corbin, points out the customer is not always right, but the customer is always the customer. What does that mean? In a company, you have to feed the head first. If you look at your body, you’ve got to put food in your mouth, in your head, so that it goes into your stomach to nourish your whole body. What is the Head of your company? The Head of your company is not the CEO. The Head of your company is not the Founder. The Head of your company, when you look at it as a figurative body, is all of the staff.
If you are feeding the staff poison, because 15% to 40% of their time they’re dealing with negative cancerous clients, it’s just a matter of time until that poison goes into that staff and the staff is going to die in an essence and figurative speech. They’re going to leave your company. Worse, they may spread negative into the rest of the people in your company. In our 25 years, we’ve had 3,900 clients since 1992. We have experienced many clients that started out positive that became a total pain in the rump and we have had maybe six or seven or eight that have been so obnoxious that we’ve had to step in and separate contracts and let clients go. In short, we’ve had to eradicate cancer because cancer grows rapidly. Clients can also, if they’re negative, talk to other clients and they can pollute your client environment as well.
When people know they’re leaving, they’re already planning their own exit strategy. Click To Tweet
We’ve seen both sides, not necessarily in our company, but we have definitely heard some horror stories at conferences and events of just rogue clients going nuts. You’ve got all the negative comments that people put up in Yelp and other websites. We have a plumbing customer that right now is losing about $400,000 a year because of one negative Yelp review and there’s almost nothing we can do for this plumbing customer because that review is there and you’re just not going to take it down. You’ve got to get rid of cancer as fast as humanly possible because every day it sits there. It continues to spread.
It’s not because the work wasn’t perfect or the work wasn’t done. Some clients are just never happy. The shade of yellow, if you’re a painting company, isn’t quite right even though you’ve given him fifteen choices and this is the one they picked. They’re unhappy and you get paid for your time. Whether or not it’s the car that’s completely perfect, that engine runs and there was a grease spot underneath the seat and the passenger side that no one will see, but this person took a flashlight to inspect their car. Let’s be honest. There are people like that. Those are the people we’re referring to, not people that you just did a poor job or we did a poor job. That’s completely different. There are just some people that it doesn’t matter, it’s never a happy day.
Take out a piece of paper at least once a year, January 1st, make a list of all the employees and all the clients that if they were not with you, you would have a spring in your step, you would wake up with joy, and more importantly the employees working for you and pulling the rope with you, pun intended, the employees working with you would see you as a leader of your company with that much more respect. You stepped in and removed that client almost for them. For episode 276, this is Ken and Kerri Courtright. We hope this helps. Take care.