[Updated 8/21/17]

Sometimes no amount of “client/patient relationship management” will do the trick.

You’ve bent over backward, killed them with kindness, brought them the proverbial “apple” and nothing seems to work. Maybe they just aren’t worth all that coddling. One of my mentors, Dan Kennedy has a saying he uses frequently and it goes something like this: “If I wake up thinking about you three days in a row and I’m not sleeping with you, you have to go!” He uses this reference mainly when he is talking about employees but this could be applied to any relationship.

If your clients or patients are consuming your thoughts due to the inability to satisfy them, they are most likely also affecting your health, that of your employees, and the bottom line in your business.

Here are the Top 5 Client/Patient Profiles You Should Avoid at All Costs and, if you currently have them, they need a good firing:

The Nasty One

This client is verbally and/or physically abusive. OK, so maybe they had a bad day, you came in their sights, and they let you have it. You can forgive them once for this, with the sincerest apology from them, but, if this behavior becomes the norm rather than the exception, they need to go. No one should have to tolerate this type of treatment. It causes undue stress to everyone whose path they cross and has a way of permeating and affecting unrelated people and projects.

The Nitpicker

There is nothing that seems to satisfy the Nitpicker. They are chronic complainers. They make constant changes to what they originally agreed to. They’re overly demanding and expect you to drop everything to take care of their needs. They will pick apart your invoices bit by bit, even though they knew in advance the costs involved. Another high-stress level client. Buh-Bye.

The Time Sucker

This is the one that likes to rob you or your employees of precious time with idle gossip, validation of their latest brainstorm, or professional advice without any consideration. They schedule meetings, then cancel them. They call repeatedly throughout the day with each new idea or request. Time is money. We all have the same amount each day. Time wasted is money lost. These clients and patients need to be cut off.

The Slow Payer

The client that consistently pays their bills slow is a drain on your time and affects the cash flow in your business. Unfortunately, if you typically invoice after the transaction, the only way to find out about The Slow Payer is to actually do business with them. But once you do, they gotta go, or they gotta pay in advance.

The Bargain Shopper

The Bargain Shopper is a little like the Time Sucker since they waste an incredible about of time. They will have you quote on something, pit you against a competitor, and continue to try to beat you down on price. Or they simply use you in the bidding process with no intention of giving you the business. If you do end up getting this business, the margins will be so low that the time you invested will not be compensated. Time would be better spent prospecting for your ideal client. No business needs bottom feeders, but there are plenty of businesses out there that will take them. Very few businesses can be sustained on the lowest price model. I say let ’em go.

How To “Fire” Them

The best way to deal with a problem client or patient is to speak with them on the phone or in person. You don’t want to be mean or nasty to them, but explain the situation and why you are parting ways. It’s an uncomfortable conversation, but to look out for the well-being of your business, your employees and yourself, it is something that should be done.

If they are just not a good fit for your company, you can always help them find someone new that you think they would be better with.


Of course, there are other less severe types of clients or patients that may not be a good fit for your business. No business can be everything to everyone, nor should it be. By avoiding and/or firing at least these Top 5, you will be in a much stronger position and give your business the room to grow with the right client or patient.

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Author: Kathy Jiamboi

Owner of Creativedge Marketing, where growth-oriented dentists find dental practice marketing strategies and advice to take their practice to a new and higher level.

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