I had been working with a prospective client on a QuickBooks data project for a few weeks…figuring out the specs, analyzing a preliminary copy of their data, quoting the work, emailing lots of questions and answers back and forth.
And there was a growing feeling that it just wasn’t right.
The prospective client was pleasant enough and earnest in her desire to get a business information problem solved. But the project just wasn’t working.
We scheduled the work for a particular weekend, but she didn’t ‘show up’ with her data. As it turns out, when I talked to her the next week, there were yet more questions and more assurances needed. The questions had already been answered, and the assurances had already been given. But they weren’t taking hold somehow.
I know it is hard to trust someone with whom you’ve never done business. That is a big part of my job — to help people get to know us and feel comfortable in using our services. We’ve been in business since 1986, have a strong guarantee, and have had scores of clients give us their recommendation for QuickBooks data repair, QuickBooks downgrades and data supercondenses.
But I can’t force trust. It must be given freely, not demanded. And trust is a two way street.
So when we seemed to get into a question churn mode that wasn’t progressing, I told her that for both parties’ sake we were withdrawing our bid. I tried to communicate to her that she needed to find someone that she trusted. I gave her some names. She asked me to reconsider, but I told her that I just didn’t feel comfortable proceeding with the job.
I’ve only turned away clients a few times in the 24 years and thousands of software consulting/support jobs I’ve managed. I hate to do it.
But one thing worse than turning away a client is taking one on and then later having to figure out how to disengage. Maybe a good way to avoid ‘firing a client’ is to not ‘hire’ them in the first place. At least that’s what my gut and experience is telling me.
What do you think about turning away prospective clients? I’d be interested in your thoughts.