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How to avoid tyre kickers and time wasters in business

19 January 2015

How to avoid tyre kickers and time wasters in business
Sourcing the right clients and getting rid of the tyre kickers and time wasters is not always easy for women in business. Learn more about the three types of clients and techniques for attracting the right sort of clients to your business.

James Tuckerman from Australian Anthill and Not So Freaky University told me last year that there are three types of clients – so I thought I would expand on this topic a little based on my own experience and help you either be a better client – or as a consultant, decide which client you would like to work for in the future.

1)   Some clients want everything for nothing. They'll tend to:

  • bail you up at networking events so you can't network and ask you a million professional questions
  • ask for a coffee meeting and pick your brains – and sometimes even expect you to pay for the coffee
  • keep telling you about everyone else and ‘complain’ about them so that you will ‘generously’ prove how you are different
  • say that they want to book time with you but they never do and lead you on and on and on – and if they do book, they cancel at the last minute when you can’t slot someone else in
  • book a time, say one hour, and then stay for nearly two hours and then don’t expect to pay for the extra time – and once you invoice them, they complain that they ‘didn’t get what they wanted’ and argue over the amount
  • tell you how urgent the work is and how much they need it but try and negotiate to pay you ‘in kind’ in the future – often, no payment or exchange is ever received
  • make all sorts of requests before they book a time so that in the end, you decide, no thanks, I am not spending any more time with this one

2)    The client who wants help and is willing to pay for it tends to:

  • be quite well informed already but know they need some more assistance
  • be willing to learn and do some of the work (but not always all the work)
  • believe that your rates are reasonable (based on their due diligence research)
  • approach the opportunity to work with you as an opportunity and treat you with respect
  • never argue about the bill and pay it on time or provide you with a reason for the delay
  • offer you extra opportunities through their networks as they value your service

3)    The client who wants you to do it for them tends to:

  • have a reasonably clear idea about what you can offer
  • do not want to take full responsibility for completion of the tasks
  • are not necessarily engaged or able to provide you with the real information you need to create an exceptional result (unless they have given you an excellent briefing)
  • are very time poor and/or very good at delegating to a trusted advisor
  • have the budget to pay you for it
  • may or may not manage the process effectively and complain if it doesn’t meet their unstated expectations

Which of the three do you want to work with? 

Sometimes, it's all three. 

The first style of client I'll work with when I believe there is a valid reason and I am willing to do the work for free (could be a worthwhile startup or a not for profit organisation). To maintain a profitable practice as a woman in business, I need to make sure that I do not do too much work for the ‘will never pay’ category. 

Number two is obviously my preferred client. 

The third sort of client may not have the time, energy or motivation to do the work and need you. The important thing here is to ensure clear expectations are set at the beginning.

Here are some of my suggestions on how to avoid tyre kickers…

  1. Don’t have coffee meetings – if they want to meet me first, I suggest that they meet me at an event I will be attending – 90 percent never show and it saves me a lot of time and explaining.
  2. Don’t offer the first hour for free – in the first hour, I am usually scoping and collecting the information to tailor my support for the client – that streamlines the rest of our time together and saves them hours, so I explain this beforehand and do charge for the first hour.
  3. Do not participate in affiliate programs – my past experience has demonstrated, over many years and various platforms, that I simply advertise someone else rather than get a return. If you decide to do this, take the low risk option first.
  4. Do not look for a ‘get rich quick’ system - It takes time to build a relationship, trust and confidence. I allow up to six months and at least seven exchanges of communication before I consider anyone to be a regular contact or network source.
  5. Provide free options – I provide a huge range of content free of charge and online. If someone needs help but cannot afford it, they are welcome to read the free content. This is a good way to gain background knowledge and can reduce the paid professional advice time if they implement these tips and advice first. Remember that your skills, experience and networks are worth paying for, particularly if they are tailored to the specific needs of the client.
  6. Make all of my first appointments and second appointments for two hours each - This way, we can actually get some outcomes from our time together, not just ‘conversation’ that can seem good at the time, but without a recognisable achievement at the end (if it was limited to one hour).
  7. Provide very clear instructions BEFORE the first appointment - Where and when it will be, what we will do, what they need to bring, what they need to prepare and how much it will cost. There are no surprises.
  8. Follow up after the appointment and make sure invoicing is accurate and prompt - The key to being paid is to keep on top of due dates and do not let invoices remain unpaid without communication with the client.

To all women in business, be brave, be bold and stay true!

Learn more about me at http://www.sueellson.com

1 comments

  • Robert Lopez CPA

    Robert Lopez CPA 2 years ago

    Tyre Kickers can be a real problem for small businesses. Part of the challenge are the number of businesses who seem to want to always offer that first one hour free appointment. That's fine, they are wasting their time not mine, problem is it creates a culture where more and more people use it to shop around for free advice.

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