12 Signs You Shouldn’t Work With a Customer

What is one surefire sign a customer/client is a bad fit for you?

Pouting customer
photo credit: Dan Foy / Flickr

The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

1. You Hate When They Contact You

If you find yourself rolling your eyes every time you see their call come through, or find that your employees are constantly complaining about them, that customer might be costing you more money than you are making on them. There is a big push right now for Zappos-level customer service of going above and beyond, and that is awesome if the customer is a good fit. Otherwise, fire them.

Alisha Navarro, 2 Hounds Design

2. Your Gut Reaction Is Negative

Every time my gut instinct tells me someone is going to be a bad client (wrong personality, time suck, complainer, wants what we can’tdeliver well, etc.), I’ve never been wrong. Trust your gut!

Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids

3. They Badmouth Past Coaches or Team Members

If a potential client is always complaining about their experiences with others, it’s a warning sign. When they give an honest assessment of what’s not working and take responsibility, then there’s room for growth. But if no one can ever meet their needs then you’re likely to be next on the long list of disappointments. You can’t fix unrealistic expectations.

Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems

4. They Make Threats

If a customer makes a threat to be more vocal or cause a problem, simply ask them if they really want to be a customer. Tell them howyou will treat them as a customer and ask them what you can expect from them. If it’s not congruent, politely inform the customer that perhaps they are not the right fit and you both should go their own ways. It’s always better to prevent issues than experience them.

Andrew Thomas, SkyBell Technologies, Inc.

5. They Lack Commitment

When prospects claim the project is a rush project yet don’t have enough time or desire to give good feedback or follow our processes, we kindly decline. We set processes to ensure you’ll be as happy as possible. If the customer isn’t committed to your processes and values, there’ll be strong chance the final product delivered won’t be the best that it can be.

Kenny Nguyen, Big Fish Presentations

6. They Don’t Pay on Time

Failing to pay for services on time is disrespectful to the company that’s done the work, and it can really harm your business. It’s understandable in that there are occasionally busy periods or times of short cash flow, but everyone rightly expects to be paid on time for the work they’ve done. If a client is consistently late or fails to pay, don’t work with them again.

Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com

7. They Don’t Communicate

Building relationships with clients, employees and investors is crucial. If my team is unable to build a trusting relationship of open communication with a potential client, I don’t believe it will be a good fit for the overall success of our company. Trust and communication are vital elements in building success. If we don’t have that, I think it won’t be an appropriate fit.

Sean Marszalek, SDC Nutrition, Inc.

8. They Don’t Trust You

When a client starts listening to another consultant and starts questioning everything you do, that’s a sign of a client who has lost trust. Personally, I would find one consultant bashing another as unethical and ignore them. But when your client trusts someone else more than you despite achieving results, it’s time to fire the disloyal client. It’s always better to have clients who trust you.

Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now

9. They Can’t Recognize Your Knowledge

If the client doesn’t possess the ability to say, “This is something you’re better at than I am,” don’t waste your time. Twice we had clients that began with the belief that they knew everything about our business and would take exactly zero of our advice and instructions. After months of refusing to try something new — while still failing using their original ways — we were forced to fire them.

Brennan White, Cortex

10. Your Core Values Don’t Match

First, we always ask ourselves if every client we bring on is a fit with our core values. Will we be able to provide them stellar services and still fit with our core values? If that is in place, and you still wake up in the morning with a feeling of dread in your gut, go with your instincts and take the high road. It might be time for a conversation about someone else being a better fit.

Kayla Wagner, Revel Interactive

11. They Have a Bad Attitude

A prospect recently reached out so we responded with a automated message to qualify them, and they said they didn’t like the automation. But when we tried to get them on a call, they said they’d prefer to hear from us via email. Then we apologized and said we might not be a fit, and that’s when they said they’d “make sure everyone around us knows.” That’s a reflection of bad attitude.

Eric Siu, Single Grain

12. They Prioritizes Budget Over Product

A surefire sign that clients are a bad fit is that they are not interested in investing the necessary time, attention and resources to make their products the best they could be. They are not a good fit if they are more worried about their budgets than creating products that bring real value to customers.

Jyot Singh, RTS Labs