All you need is a few good clients

“You don’t need a gazillion clients.  You just need a handful of the right clients.  You don’t need more workers.  You just need the right workers.”  The first time I head those words, I could hear the bells going off signalling a big, giant truth that had just been revealed to me.  And over the years, I’ve found that to be true. While doing the billing this week, I decided to look at my “card list” for all clients and advertisers.  I couldn’t believe how many I had.  Some of them had just advertised once, perhaps, so I didn’t recognize their names.  But many names were very familiar to me. I thought about how I’ve had so many of the same advertisers for the past 10-15 years and how grateful I am that I don’t have to run around selling ads to get each issue printed.  I would be more industrious if I had more time, and make ad calls, but it’s too easy to just keep things the way they are.  Comfortable.  Manageable.  Then I realized, that’s it.  I am comfortable with the clients and advertisers I have now, and we make a good family and it keeps the cats fed.

So I’ve found it’s very true.  I don’t need a gazillion clients.  All I need are a handful who are fun to work with, who have similar goals and motivations, with whom I feel spiritually connected. Then work and income blossoms from there. Here’s the process I used.

I know several business owners who have customers of their own, and these days everyone is looking to expand their business to make more money.  I’ve learned that you don’t necessarily need to expand your business to make more money, but you DO need to expand your perception of how much income you are able to glean from just a handful of clients.

One friend lamented to me last year that she had only a dozen clients left.  Gretchen has a lawn maintenance business and many of her clients had begun doing their own lawns.  She was worried that she wouldn’t be able to replace them and that she’d have to fold up her business and go to work for someone else, if anyone was even hiring.

I reminded her that those clients who had begun mowing their own lawns were not her target market anyway.  Those were not the people she wants for clients.  She wants people who do not do their own yard work and who need what she can do.  She just needed to expand her perception of who her clients actually were.

One of the favorite jobs I do — and I do it via email as well — is Biggifying and Destucktifying.  Ok, some people call it coaching, but coaching sounds so – yawn – regimented, when biggifying and destucktifying is the goal anyway.  So when I spoke to Gretchen, I knew she just needed some B & D.

She first needed to understand that the people who used to be her clients, stop focusing on them right now.  Focus on the customers she still has and she how much more she can offer them.  I told her to realize it was possible to make a good living from just a dozen clients.

The first thing I did was create a newsletter for her lawn maintenance business to enclose with her bills, which she always handed to the client at the end of the job.  On one side was a calendar with her photo and business name and phone number.  On the other side was a short newsletter, telling what extra jobs she did, like cutting branches, repairing irrigation, and putting in water gardens.  We gave her an “Ask Gretchen” advice column, suggesting what jobs should be done in the yard this time of year.  We listed her special prices of the month for extra jobs like fertilizing and seeding grass.

water gardenIn the winter time, November through March when the mowing schedule is down to once a month, we highlighted her deadfall cutting and limb removal.  We had specials on yard clean up and palm trimming.  We created a basic water garden package of a 4 square feet landscaped area with rocks, plants, birdbath for a special price.  We did the same for a shady corner, with a hammock and hanging spider plants and bird feeders.  The December newsletter offered special prices on Gift Certificates as Christmas presents.  It also included a sincere Thank You letter from Gretchen, letting each one know how much she appreciated their business.  We also enclosed a stamped return envelope, to make it easy to send next month’s check or buy a gift certificate.  She was surprised at how many Christmas tips got returned in those envelopes. There were lots of ways for her to make extra money during her “slow” season, and it was right in front of her all the time.  All I did was hold her eyes open.

Her customers got the first newsletter and told her, “I didn’t know you did ___ and ___.”  She could have been making the extra money all along.  Most of her clients were older and she’d known them for years.  But didn’t know them well.  After the newsletter, some of them told her it made them feel like they knew her more now.  She began talking to me about them in a different way, a more appreciative way.


We sat to make a list and I asked her to name one of her clients, and to tell me what she does at his yard. 
Then I asked her, if she could do anything creative to that yard, what would she do?  What would it be perfect for?  And we went down the list of each of her clients and answered the same questions.  For each one, it gave us ideas of what other jobs to suggest to the homeowner.  Not a heavy handed sales pitch, but simply, “Hey, I was thinking about your yard the other day and had some ideas I wanted to tell you about if you were interested.”  She got dozens of new jobs just from the ideas that came to her by asking and answering those questions to herself.

Suddenly, she began getting calls from homeowners who had seen the sign on her truck.  That sign had been there for 2 years with few calls, but suddenly she was being seen and noticed by the neighbors.  What had changed?  What put her on the radar?  Law of attraction.  She went from someone who focused on “good grief, what if I lose all my clients, what will I do then” to “I am having so much fun doing neat new projects with people who really appreciate and want what I do“.  Who wouldn’t want some of that action?

Gretchen went from having almost 30 clients, down to having an even dozen, and doubled her income for the year.  Go figure.

No, REALLY: Go figure.  Go figure where you might pare away any deadwood clients that are energy suckers.  Go figure where you can offer more of you in the most helpful way to your client, at a price you feel is fair.  Really fair.  Make yourself known in unobstrusive ways to your clients on a regular basis.  Become real to them.  Don’t try to sell them something each time they see your newsletter, just let them know what’s available.

Go figure where you can biggify your own business, making the most of the clients you already have, knowing what other jobs you’re capable of doing.  Go figure where you are stuck and commence destucktifying Ask yourself, answer yourself, surprise yourself with what you know.

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