Quitting Clients (aka Ditching the Diamondbacks)

I always stress that strategic quitting differs from regular-ol’ quitting in many ways, but one of the most important is knowing what exactly you should quit. Very often people know they’re not happy with their situation, but they’re not exactly sure why.

Unstrategic quitters at that point quit either everything, or random things. Like “Let’s randomly move to a new city, or quit a relationship. Maybe that’ll help.”

I mean, maybe it will, but it’s a gamble.

What’s more strategic is deciding exactly what isn’t working and then quitting only that.

This quit is a great example of a small one that can make a big difference: quitting clients.

I know CPAs who quit doing taxes for individuals and instead only focus on businesses. I know coaches who stopped doing group coaching sessions. And I know doctors who stopped seeing insured patients and now see cash-only patients.

If you’re in any of these fields, the reasons why my friends made the above moves probably jump out at you immediately. But if you’re not, just know that in every field there are going to be clients who take more of your time and energy than others, or who in some way or another lead to less return on investment than others do, or who just happen to rub you the wrong way more than others.

Quit them.


But first, apologize.

Let me clarify. If you’re servicing a certain type of client and you want to stop doing so while there is still a relationship, that’s going to take some artful finagling. Especially doctors and lawyers and CPA-types who have a fiduciary duty to their clients must take special care that you let your clients go in the most legal and ethical means possible. Ensure you have someone else ready to take your place as best you can, and do apologize for the inconvenience.

Some more examples of this include an attorney friend who quit civil cases and decided to focus only on criminal because they are a lot more cut and dried and they’re shorter from start to finish, which allowed him to better plan his schedule.

I also quit a type of client: high maintenance athletes and their staff. I’ll never forget the time I was a sports medicine fellow and I was called by whomever was working for the Arizona Diamondbacks at the time they were in Tucson, Arizona for spring training. My fellowship, at the University of Arizona in Tucson, had me working with the team, which probably sounds really exciting, right until the calls start. I’d get calls in the middle of the day to go to their facility and do physicals on the latest round of new players. Were they emergency physicals? (Is that even a thing?) No. They were just requested by people not used to anyone saying no to them.

One day they called and said they needed me to come give a player an allergy shot. Now, I won’t debate the efficacy of the shots I was asked to give, but let’s just say this wasn’t a “dude ate a peanut, now needs an epic-pen” situation…this was for seasonal allergies. They make this request in the middle of a full clinic day. Yet I go over there, leaving my patients to sit in the waiting room while I get this shot ready. I go to give it to the player and I can’t find him. “Oh he’s batting,” they tell me. ARE YOU SERIOUS? I interrupted my day but he can’t skip an at-bat, during an intrasquad game, by the way, for me to give him this shot he apparently needed RIGHT NOW!

So I waited. And after whatever time period an at-bat should have taken, I asked again if he was ready. “Oh he’s in the outfield now.”

Oh no he didn’t….

At that point I lost what little patience I had and headed to the field with syringe in hand, declaring if they wanted a steroid scandal I was going to give them one cause I was going to inject him on the field because I HAD PATIENTS WAITING!

He came in.

But moral of the story is that if a client or group of clients gets you to the point that you’re about to shove sharp objects in a left fielder while dodging a line drive, you may want to consider quitting them.

Just my two cents:)

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