Business Coach Dana Corey: Letting Go of a Client

Dana Corey

Dana Corey presents her brand new workshop “The Five Fundamentals of Freedom, Flexibility, and Fun” at Pregame HQ on October 11 – sign up here.

Sometimes I’ve been really pressed to remember the long term view instead of getting hung up on the short term. Usually, these bouts are prompted by a change in my clients.

My coaching business is really fluid because, while people sign up for a year at a time, they don’t have to sign up at a particular time of year. So every month or two I have people who are finished with their contract.

A good portion of people sign up for another year, but not everyone. I feel like I’m always faced with finding people to fill the spots. There is a constant need to meet more people, make more connections, and create a list of possible clients. To add to the complication, my ideal client is a really specific kind of business owner. And, to be honest, I don’t meet a ton of them.

When I start focusing on these challenges is when the panic sets in. In general, I can mentally prepare for client turnover. Since everyone is on a one-year contract, I can look to fill gaps before the income stream is gone.

Of course, things don’t always work exactly as we plan for.

Over the years, I’ve had a couple occasions where people needed to end their contract early. I really hate when this happens because it creates an anxiety that permeates throughout my entire life. But, I refuse to coach anyone who doesn’t want to be coached. (It doesn’t work well for anyone.)

And, I am not in the business of chasing people for money.

I don’t consider it to be good karma.

I know I work with good people who have great intentions – and they wouldn’t ask to get out of a contract if they didn’t absolutely need it.

However, the couple of times this has come up, my heart sinks. I can’t fall asleep that night – overcome with thoughts of, “Oh shit, what am I going to do now?”

When I am filled with this wonky energy nothing seems to flow right. It creates stress and extra anxiety around my whole life and business.

Last time this happened, I actually had potential client calls set up the next day. It should have been great timing, but I could tell I was off during the calls. I wasn’t myself and was sure I totally bombed any chance of gaining those clients. Then my husband and I almost missed a flight because we left his wallet at home. It seemed like nothing could go right.

Deep down, even in these rough times, I know if I allow myself to breathe and relax things will always work out. I know it, but in the heat of the moment it can be hard to really believe it. In the past, I have let that bad energy consume me until I got my fix from making another sale, but that isn’t the way to solve this problem.

This leads to questions about contracts and how to figure out when to hold firm, and when to let go.

First, I think it is important to let you know that I do find contracts to be sacred documents. If I sign a contract, I consider it to be ironclad – on both sides. I don’t let people out of contracts willy nilly. But sometimes, a situation can warrant a bit of humanity.

As a business owner, it is easy to get caught up in our own story.

The panic of not being able to pay bills, or taxes, and a constant fear of failing. We can find ourselves sitting in discomfort – sometimes for long periods of time – and it can be scary.

If you get stuck in that story (and only thinking of yourself) it is easy to forget about the human element and the relationships your business is built on.

In those rare cases, the exceptions to the rule, I bless and release.

I don’t get a lot of requests to end a contract early, but when they do come in, I take each one seriously. After determining the request is valid, I think about that particular individual as a person. And how I would want to be treated if I had an emergency come up that warranted me asking for leniency in a contract.

I am reminded of a client of mine who was traumatized by an experience with a previous coach. She had a legitimate need for quitting early, an unexpected circumstance, and she was required to pay the balance even though she was no longer part of the program. She was chased and harassed by the individual who owned the other business and was made to feel like a criminal. The result of that is just icky.

People get torn down. There is bad karma – bad feelings. People (on both sides) are left feeling manipulated, broken, and unheard.

I try to take a different approach. I have taken on clients who have been traumatized in the past and had to rebuild or bandage them up. I am not willing to be a pushover – my contracts are for a year at a time for a reason. It takes that long for new ways of seeing, thinking, and being to become a habit.

And it takes that long to really get anything major done.

Also, when my practice is full I can focus on my clients instead of getting hung up on selling. When I am able to focus fully on the clients I have, I really feel like I am doing my best work.

How do you find the balance that allows you to look yourself in the mirror and feel proud? What are your solutions?

Until then…stay passionate!

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