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Sacking customers with Cyril Parkinson

We all know that maintaining existing customers is the cheapest way of securing the ongoing viability of your business. But sometimes the longest-standing ones can be the most difficult.

If you were to ask Tim Ferriss about those tricky ones, he’d probably explain his 80/20 rule: 20% of the people you associate with create 80% of your required outcome. He’d then try to convince you to use this principle with your friends, family, and pets, at which point you’d hopefully realize that he is only half sane and that the 4-hour workweek of his is a wishful myth. But, if you’re anything like me, he’d probably still get you thinking…

If a customer is driving you up the wall, leaning on their longstanding patronization of your business as a good reason to run you into the ground getting it right for them, is it really worth your while to keep that up?
It might be time to give them the sack.

Not convinced by this line of thought? Consider Cyril Parkinson’s admittedly rather cynical approach to the topic. Parkinson is best known for a tongue-in-cheek essay he wrote for an issue of the Economist in 1955. The idea behind his article is now known commonly referred to as Parkinson’s law:

‘Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion

In the article, Parkinson used the analogy of a civil servant who thought he was overworked. He claimed that the most common line of action to this problem was for the servant to insist on two subordinates to help him.

Inevitably, these subordinates, buckling under the unnecessary dictatorial direction of their new boss, demand that they have assistants of their own. Soon enough seven people are doing the work of one. Chaos ensues, not without a touch of vintage, dry, Economist-style humor.

Now, imagine you’re the troublesome civil servant’s boss, and he’s your nightmare customer. If you keep just saying ‘yes’ the work required to keep them happy will continue to snowball. There is no end to the demands of the difficult ones.

The moral: if you run around in a panic trying to meet their every demand, they will take everything they can get and will expect more.

Wouldn’t you say that time would be better spent acquiring nice customers? #

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