I got a message from one of my image consultant clients during the week asking me how she should handle a difficult customer. It brought back a rather horrific memory of a difficult client of my own from 11 years back.
At that time I was an image consultant offering pretty much every colour and image service a stylist could offer and I was extending all these services to men, women and corporations. I was also providing nutrition consultations! I was hardly likely to attract my ideal client…
And indeed I did not attract my perfect fit…
I got a call from the clients secretary that he was visiting Singapore and that he needed the services of an image consultant as he has lost weight. He was staying at The Four Seasons Hotel and we booked in a time that I would come to the hotel for a consult with him on style and wardrobe.
Unfortunately I had been really busy around the time of getting this enquiry (It was only a few months after my first son was born) so I didn’t actually vet him adequately and suss out if we were a good fit to work together.
I arrived at the hotel on the day of the appointment, I was met at reception by the secretary and I was brought to meet the client in the presidential suite.
Things were not right from the get go and alarm bells started ringing almost immediately.
He told me that he had already had a consult with another image consultant but he had decided not to work with her because he didn’t like her advice.
He then proceeded to question me about all my services. He was particularly interested in my thoughts around nutrition possibly because he had lost weight recently. He then proceeded to tell me that my nutrition services mustn’t be very good as I was overweight.(Indeed I was about 20Ibs overweight as I put on quite a bit with my first son).
I should have cut my losses at that point and ended the consultation but I didn’t, possibly because I was in shock.
We proceeded to his closet and he wanted my advise on how to alter all his clothes as they were now too big for him. The jackets, shirts and pants had been tailored for him when he was a significantly bigger size. I could clearly see that altering these clothes would not help him look better. I said as much to him and explained to him the colours and styles that would work better for him and show off his now much slimmer form.
I was very thankful when the consultation was finished and it was time to go home. I asked him how he would like to pay and he said that he wasn’t happy with the consultation and that he wasn’t going to pay.
I can still feel my cheeks burning up with shame! Somehow I stood my ground and I ended up getting partial payment.
The moral of this story is that if I had known who my ideal client was, I would never have taken this client on. My ideal client at the time (had I known it!) was a female expat small business owner.
When I look back now, it is clear to me that he was absolutely the opposite of my ideal client. This incident wreaked havoc with my self-esteem and confidence and I even considered that maybe I was in the wrong profession.
Once I got over the worst of the shame and reviewed how this situation had happened, it became clear to me that I needed to niche down and work only with clients that were a good fit for me. This was a turning point for me in my business. I started to attract much nicer people and I was much better able to help them. Niching down actually got me a steady flow of my perfect client.
Are you attracting less than your perfect client? Have you had difficult clients in the past? Have you niched down yet?
The next round of my 5 Day Ideal Client Challenge for Image Consultants & Personal Stylists starts on 24th Feb 2020.