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How to say No
Old 06-03-2007, 10:12 AM   #1
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How to say No

I'm about 2 years from FIRE. I am self employed as a consultant, and I have a lot of clients that I like, and as much work as I can handle. I see a problem coming that once I decide to retire it will be very hard to say no to my faithful clients. And it seems the older I get the more in demand I am.

Also, this business is a cash cow...it is going to be hard to kill the cow which is essentially what I have to do (no I can't "sell the business" to another person). I don't feel comfortable refering the work to other consultants in my field (my clients aren't ready for their predatory pricing practices, among other things).

I suppose it is a nice problem to have as opposed to other kinds of problems, but has anyone else here dealt with the emotional issue of turning away good clients and killing of a good thing?
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Old 06-03-2007, 10:23 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Lazy Jack View Post
I'm about 2 years from FIRE. I am self employed ... has anyone else here dealt with the emotional issue of turning away good clients and killing of a good thing?
Yup I shut down my management consulting business in 1997 in favor of being the CEO of a startup. When recruited by E&Y, I negotiated the right to perform contracts on a part-time basis for 8 months to assist with the client transition.

If I were going straight to ER, I would consider bringing on an assistant who could take over the clients gradually. This might have several benefits, not only with transition but enabling a continuing part-time role as a higher level advisor if you want it.
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Old 06-03-2007, 11:08 AM   #3
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(my clients aren't ready for their predatory pricing practices, among other things).

Increase your price until you only have one or two clients left then raise it a little more. Take a long vacation, change your phone number and email address.
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Old 06-03-2007, 06:27 PM   #4
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I like the idea of bringing on assistant. I think that is how some doctors, dentists, and CPA handle retirement instead of selling the practice outright.

Alternatively talk to some of the other consultants and see how you could handle refering new clients to them and transistioning the old ones.

It sounds like that if you are swamped with work and you think that there prices are predatory, your prices are too low.
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Old 06-04-2007, 11:28 AM   #5
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Dont say "No".

Say "My price is increasing to $XXX.00/hr"

You are hesitant to send your good clients onto other advisors but figure out where is the best place to send them. Wish them luck and give them warnings about what they may encounter.

You may even start raising your price now. It will make it a little easier to get out later and who knows- maybe everyone will continue to pay it and those 2 years to FIRE will become 1.5years
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Old 06-04-2007, 11:33 AM   #6
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I like the idea of bringing on assistant. I think that is how some doctors, dentists, and CPA handle retirement instead of selling the practice outright.

Alternatively talk to some of the other consultants and see how you could handle refering new clients to them and transistioning the old ones.

It sounds like that if you are swamped with work and you think that there prices are predatory, your prices are too low.
I agree with all of the above -- especially the pricing comment. When did you last benchmark competitive prices and make appropriate adjustments in your pricing structure?
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Old 06-04-2007, 12:01 PM   #7
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Find someone to refer them to.

Then become progressively harder to reach, take longer to return calls, charge more because you're retired now, so its extraordinary work.

If that doesnt do the trick, become somewhat selectively incompetent.
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Old 06-04-2007, 08:17 PM   #8
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The bottom line is the bottom line. Would you feel the same if you were working for non-profits?
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Old 06-05-2007, 07:53 AM   #9
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When was the last time you raised your price/hr

They've got it TOO good.

(PS have you priced healthcare ?)
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Old 06-05-2007, 12:44 PM   #10
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Jack...I can empathize with your decision...wanting to retire and yet attempting to treat your friends/clients as fairly as possible.

After much soul-searching, I have only recently (just signed the paperwork) to facilitate such a change and found that I used both of the most frequently suggested courses of action ~ I actually priced some of my PITA (pain in the a$$) clients out of their comfort zone AND had the good fortune of having a 10+ year employee who was excited about the prospect of taking the reins of the practice (accounting and tax prep).

While I could have sold the business to a total stranger and walked away...my actions gave me the exit strategy that I needed to be happy and it will leave my clients (friends) in capable, knowledgeable hands....and it will be a face that is familiar to them too!

....and I can still work tax seasons unless my new boss doesn't like my work

Good luck with your decision!
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Old 06-07-2007, 12:32 PM   #11
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In 1997, I raised my rates to $2500/day. I got two contracts which I fulfilled then nothing more because I was doing no marketing. Earlier I charged $1250/day for part-time work and $1500/day for full-time work. The market can be your friend if you stay in control.
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