Posted by: Marcos, Teresa or Leo at 01:47, January 2 2015.
FAREWELL TO A CLIENT:
January 1st, 2015. Irony is my world! We had a client we'd been working with since March 4th, 2004. Performing Spanish Translations/Voice work for them on a daily basis. Not a whole lot of money but, consistent volume. ...and that's great!
Let me back-track a bit...
June 1st, 2006 rolls around, and this client proposes we (The Lyceum at that time) take charge of his Spanish Department, being that not one individual on his staff speaks a word of Spanish. (I know, how could he seriously consider delving into a Realm he has absolutely no knowledge about? I still continue to ask myself the same question and come up blank for an answer!)
So, he makes his offer, and although on the surface it doesn't seem worth accepting, I looked at the big picture and the long run. You're absolutely correct! I am crazy! Because I did accept it! But, I'm not simply “Crazy”, I went completely off the Deep End, as this was a verbal pact. That’s right! Nothing in writing - just a "Man's Word"!
Everything worked out fine. Surprised? Don’t be. This was a very good Gut Decision. I've been very fortunate to run into (for the most part), very honorable people in this industry.
June 2007. School lets out for the summer and what a great time for a long family vacation. My wife and I decided to travel through Mexico for about three weeks and not rush as is usually the case. Sooooo, we plan everything; connectivity, itinerary, availability, etc., before presenting our intentions to my Client. Then I brought up the idea of a vacation, since it had been about 12 years since my wife and I had taken a vacation. The time was right, the finances were in check and technology was a main factor in eliminating the connectivity issue. All was on my side! Well, I was floored at the question that he replied with. "Do they even have internet in Mexico? This was and continues to be the most shockingly asinine comments I've ever heard, from a person I thought to have had more than a 1st grade education. Needless to say, I assured him of internet being readily available in Mexico. I still wonder if he knows what "www" stands for?!?!?! ...and yes, we did go to Mexico for three weeks and had wonderful time covering a multitude of cities, towns and villages in eight states. TRUST ME! Connectivity was not an issue whatsoever! Better yet, connectivity was not even a concern!
Q04-2008. Well, all was fine until late 2008. You know; the prelude to the 2008 fiasco?!?!?! Some of my client's clients were being bought out, consolidating, downsizing or simply closing down. A whole new personnel replaced those that I had built a rapport with. I received a concerned phone call from my client as to why there was a drop in revenue from the Spanish Department. During the conversation, I am again floored with a question from left field; "What are you doing to my clients?". WOW! I couldn't have prepared for that question in a million years! Apparently, this man had no clue as to the state of our economy. This type problem occurs every three to five years. ...and we were due. I can only assume he lived in a third world country with no connectivity to the internet or the media! You know, perhaps, somewhere like MEXICO! NYUCK, NYUCK!
July 4th, 2011. Around June 2011, my wife and three sons decided to move from El Paso to Chicago for the fourth time. My wife and I went to Chicago during July 4th weekend and successfully found our new digs in Elgin - A suburb approximately 30 miles NW of Chicago. Upon returning to El Paso, we began wrapping and packing our belongings in preparation for the August 12th move. Pull-Up Stakes and Bug-Out! We're off to Chicago!
August 13th, 2011. My eldest son and I (accompanied by our Schnauzer Terrier; "Scotty"), left for Chicago in a Moving Truck with all our belongings. It was a rough trip but, we made it. We arrived in Elgin at the new house around 9:30 a.m. Monday, 15th of August. Needless to say, all services had not been connected. I was connected to the net via Hot Spot and due to the lack of the Static IP, my clients VoIP phone (issued to me to give his client's the impression I was on site in Michigan) was not connected. I received a call from the client, again concerned, but this time as to why the VoIP phone was not connected. I informed my client of my move and the fact that my internet service was not yet connected, this being the reason for his VoIP phone not being in service. Oh Boy! He was dismayed at my moving and not having consulted him beforehand. I am lost! Obviously, it didn't settle well with him when I responded with; "I wasn't aware I need your approval for decisions pertaining to my personal life!". With that, he settled down and apologized. Nonetheless, things were already going downhill.
November 2011. My eldest son decided to work alongside me. I figured, pay your dues and you are cleared to reap the rewards. So, I trained him to take on my client and relieve me of some of the anguish. I'm aware, this is not something you would typically throw someone into, much less a family member but, I figured, this would teach him how to deal with my client, his personnel and my client's clients. He picked up on it quickly! Troubleshooting and dodging the unnecessary barrage of BS thrown his direction. It toughened him up. In my eyes, he paid his dues. GREAT JOB, SON!
November 5th, 2013. ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE!!! I went to my Accountant's office late morning and during the meeting y son called urging my return, as he had been run through the ringer by my client's volatile operations manager (truly, no more than a lonely and frigid McDonald's reject labeled with a title). Now, I've had many jobs in 56 years, and am fully aware of the requirements necessary for a manager. Some, are brought up from within company, while others are brought from outside. Resentment is present in either situation. However, one of several factors necessary to be a good manager is; people skills! You have to know how to treat people fairly and just, without raising your voice. This requires a good grip on psychology. And this requires studies. This is how you get someone to voluntarily do something they would typically be unwilling to do. In addition, Public Speaking courses are very helpful for a manager. Helpful in that you learn to engage your audience and retain their attention. These two combined are a powerful weapon for a manager. But if you don't have the training, what good is the title. Just another label commanding no respect! This individual came from a Po Dunk TV Station. Hidden in the dimly lit and poorly ventilated confines of the Edit Suite. For some very valid reasons the Station didn't need her any longer. My client has a soft heart for basket cases with violin stories. ...and that's the reason this vile individual works for him. Lucky her.
I arrived and received the complaint from my son, as to how he was mistreated by the Ops Manager. I am not thin skinned and take the punches as well as I hand them out. And have raised my three sons to be the same! If you see it’s wrong, call it out and stick to it! Also, if you’re wrong and are called on it, man up, accept your error and make good on it. I stand by my employees and partners 100%. When they’re right, as well as when they’re wrong. Which is a rarity! I’ll take the good and the bad alongside them! If there is any chewing coming due to an error, whether theirs or mine, I’ll take the chewing! No one attacks my employees or partners. Inform me of the error and I’ll hand out the discipline. ‘Nuff Said?
I called the Ops Manager to get her side of the story and attempt to put out the fire. To my surprise, she ambushed me with a barrage of uncontrollable yelling. I remained silent, until she realized there was no response and paused to find if I were still there. I then told her to call me after she’d calmed down. Then the Rampage Reprise began. I immediately called my client, as he is the one I wanted to complain to about his Ops Manager. I treated this as I would if the tables were turned. I will not chew out someone else’s employee. I go directly to their employer.
My client heard my complaint and at my recommendation, we both agreed to have a meeting between himself, his Ops Manager and myself in three days. Time to let the smoke clear and let tempers cool!
November 8th, 2013. I blocked off the morning for this call which started shortly after 9:00 a.m. I heard the call come in through Skype and quickly hit Record on Audition. I wanted the entire conversation recorded for future reference. I did however; miss the apologies from the Ops Manager to my son and myself. She sounded like a dog with its tail between its legs when it’s been rapped on the muzzle with a rolled up newspaper. That’s fine; the rest of the recording is priceless. There was a pause - for what I believe was for either my son or myself to reciprocate the apology. It didn’t happen. Neither my son nor I instigated this and we certainly weren’t going to apologize for something we weren’t culpable of.
My client was acting in somewhat of an arbitrator role and asked us to keep silent while she stated all of her dislikes and issues. Afterwards, we would have the same amount of time to state our issues as well. Fair enough! She began calmly and slowly began to raise her voice, inserting innuendos and inaccuracies. She hopelessly failed at the tactic to anger me and lash back at her. I knew they had set something up for me to trip myself up and eventually, submit to their demands. With this in mind, I decided to stay cool and calm. Since they don’t know me as well as they believe they do, these are two traits I don’t typically exercise. What was supposed to be the day for her to put me in my place, run me into the ground and humbly ask for forgiveness in front of her boss, turned out to be a totally uncontrollable meltdown on her part - and in front of her boss? Here she was to shine and make him proud but turned out to sizzle out with a whimper.
Finally, the floor was mine. I began with a solemn voice and applied my own advice; “The less you say - says more”. Anyhow, we went back and forth several times and since I am a bit impatient, I figured we weren’t going to come to amicable agreement. They were solely intent on my submitting to their demands or be fired. Well, I always enjoy the element of surprise, so I decided to do the unimaginable; “I believe we’ve come to a fork in the road” I said as a matter of fact. They believed I was completely dependent on them for an income. Fools They Are!
Silence is a very distinct sound. Depending on the mood, it can either be relaxing or eerie and anything in between. This was definitely suspenseful! Dead silence on the other end of the line. My wife, son and a partner were in the room and their jaws dropped with a look of dismay when they heard my comment. Actually, this was rather funny seeing them simultaneously morph into mummies. Priceless! My smile was audible and may have given the impression that I either was uncertain as to what I had just said, or simply didn’t care about losing a client. Well it was the latter. I didn’t care about them anymore.
I went through something similar a few years ago. After careful thought and calculation, due to delinquencies, I decided to fire a group of derelict clients. I knew I was going to feel the economic aftershock but, I no longer had to spend a major portion of the day wearing the bill collector hat. Shortly thereafter, money was tighter but the trade off was priceless. I slept better and longer and actually felt rested, my headaches were almost all gone and I was told a few times that I was a more pleasant person to be around.
My client sounded confused and defeated when he began to speak. He stammered as if hastily grabbing at words to put together as he humbly pleaded for me not quit immediately, as he would greatly appreciate it if I would stay from at least six month and up to a year so he could find a qualified replacement. Well, I should have but didn’t do what anyone would do. I accepted! I figured I can keep the income for another year and look for replacement client during this time. That’s wise! In addition, it served as a daily reminder to them for the next year of the defeat the experienced. Talk about adding “Insult To Injury”. OUCH!!!
All went smooth from then on… more or less!?!?!? I simply couldn’t wait for October 31st, 2014.
After giving much thought to the situation, I decided to cut them off as of January 1st,2014. I drew up a Termination of Service Letter and an Inventory List of items provided by the client to be returned. I believe it is the professional courtesy to extend a client, regardless of the situation. It also leaves a paper trail that I always like to have. I couldn’t bring myself to dump on this client. It’s just not in me to crap on someone out of spite. So, we stayed on, but the letter was always readily available for dispatch.
November 19th, 2014. October 31st, 2014 came and went! We’re almost three weeks overdue from the date I was to be out. Now I’ve got my radar active, keeping my ears open for comments, cues or anything that would give away their position… nothing! Unexpectedly expected, my client calls November 19th. Pleading for me to stay at least three more months, because he hadn’t yet found a qualified replacement. He mentioned that he wasn’t able to sleep at nights due to worrying that I was leaving soon. He offered to pay me to train the replacement and I replied with; “I wouldn’t do it any other way”. A truly pathetic and embarrassing violin story. So, I accepted. This time I was tentatively to be there until the end of February. NOT!!!
January 1st, 2015. Do you remember I said that I drew up a Service Termination Letter back inlate 2013? Well, here’s the irony I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Happy New Year!!! For some odd reason, I decided to check my e-mail and what do I find? Well, I’ll be damned! A Termination Letter from my client! Go Figure?!?!?! He finally beat me to the punch, or so he believes. He’ll never know I had that covered a year before but, I ended up with the better deal; an additional year’s income and a year's time to acquire new clients. Thanks!
This guy is so far behind, that he actually believes he’s leading!
The down side of all this is, we both took a hit. We both walked away empty handed and both have to rebuild (of course He, more than I). So be careful of certain accounts. Especially, those you may rely on the most. Thankfully this was a minimal hit for me.
Good Luck and Farewell!