PR people, social media experts, marketing experts, not to mention lawyers, accountants, and consultants: do your long-term loyal clients get the worst treatment? Do they pay the highest rates? Do you take them for granted?
It’s not an idle question. I’m not trying to make trouble. It’s just that I think this happens a lot. I think it’s a natural result of efforts to generate more business and new business.
I confess that I did it at least once that I know of. Very early in the on-my-own portion of my professional service career, I had a retainer arrangement with a large textbook publisher. They paid me $1,000 a month to have me on call, while the rest of my business planning clients paid me a negotiated amount for each engagement. I built the thousand dollars into my sales forecast, but I hated it when they called. I wanted to deposit the money without any work. I took it for granted.
Telephone companies do it, don’t they? Give the new customers better rates than existing customers? The longer you’ve been with your provider, the more you pay? And don’t the cable companies give new customers better deals?
How about this: review your client lists. Make sure your longer-term clients get the best rates and the best treatment. In professional services, repeat business is golden; but there’s a temptation to focus on recruiting new clients instead of keeping existing clients.