What’s Your Red Velvet Rope Policy?

Do you have customers who you secretly dread dealing with? You know the ones. They drain the life out of you, frustrate you, and get you feeling really het up - when normally you’re the embodiment of the Dalai Lama? In my article Why You Should Fire Your Worst Customers, I recommended that you get really clear about who your ideal clients are and adopt what Michael Port, author of ‘Book Yourself Solid,' calls the Red Velvet Rope Policy. I exercised my own Red Velvet Rope Policy last month. I met with a potential client who was delightful. But I quickly realised that the business was unlikely to get out of start up mode because the owner was a dreamer. Put another way, there would be a lot of talk, but little action. I have a lot of patience and will do everything I can to help a client move to the next level. But I only have time to work with determined action takers. So in this instance, I said no. It felt a bit risky, but I also felt relief.

No matter what business we’re in, we all want to work with clients we love and who respect and value us. This in turn builds our self-confidence and enthuses us to do our very best work. We feel like we're  ‘on purpose,’ working from a place of integrity and loving every minute of the work we’re doing. And because the clients we love know other people just like them, the Law of Association and Law of Attraction kick into gear, bringing us more of our ideal clients. It’s these people who will go out and talk about us to their friends, family and business associates which in turn leads to us receiving more referrals as our reputation.

When we first start out in business, we’re generally relieved to have any clients at all, as long as they have a pulse and a debit card. And this means that in our desperation to build a client base and anxiety about where the next job is coming from, we sometimes take on clients who are less than ideal. But for us to perform at our very best, and do the type of work we love doing, it's imperative we work with clients who respect and value us. We’re energised and perform at our very best for clients who appreciate what we do for them. And we feel frustrated, on edge and stressed when we work with clients who are less than ideal, right? I know I do.

This is where 'The Red Velvet Rope' policy comes in.

The ‘Red Velvet Rope’ is a way of categorising who we should - and should not - be working with. Hopefully you’ve already designed your target customer profiles. What I want to look at in this article is who really is your ideal client- from a quality perspective. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • What type of people do you love being around and would make your ideal client?
  • What do they like to do and what do they talk about?
  • Who do they associate with? Where do they network?
  • What ethical standards do they follow?
  • How do they contribute to society?
  • What are their personal qualities? Are they optimistic, creative, values orientated, solution focused, appreciative?

Now take a look at your current client base. Write down the names of the clients you’ve most loved working with. If you’re just starting out in business who do you know think of who would be your ideal client?

  • Who do you love interacting with the most?
  • Who do you look forward to seeing?
  • Who are the clients who working with doesn’t feel like work to you?
  • Who is it you sometimes can’t believe you get paid to work with?
  • What were the top 3 reasons you love working with them so much?

Now some of you might be thinking at this point that this is wishful thinking. They’re pie in the sky clients. You may have been really struggling for new business so I get that.  But your ideal clients are almost certainly using other suppliers and service providers already. So why should they not come to you? If you have enough prospects in your sales pipeline, coupled with a great conversion rate, you can afford to choose who you work with. It's a matter of ramping up your marketing so that your sales pipeline is full.

To give you a specific example of what constitutes an ideal client, these are the qualities that describe mine:

  • Positive, action orientated and unrelenting in pursuit of their goals.
  • Reliable - they do what they say they're going to do.
  • Think big – have their head in the clouds and their feet firmly on the ground.
  • Are values orientated, wanting to use their business for social good.
  • Resilient – they keep on going, get up and dust themselves down when life isn’t going according to plan.
  • Have a learning attitude – willingly seek feedback about how to improve/ develop and takes action to become more skillful and master the craft of running a business.
  • Actively seek out valuable, collaborative personal and professional relationships.

The clearer you are about who you want to work with, the more naturally you’ll attract and draw to you the people you are best suited to work with. As a result of this clarity, you’ll also find that some of your 'mid-range' clients – those who are neither ideal nor ones you want to fire – will undergo a transformation to become your ideal client. Why? Because the energy and passion that comes from working with your ideal clients will affect your relationship with them in a positive way.

Setting such firm boundaries can be scary at first. But having clarity on your business non negotiables will help to give you better control over who you work with.

Join The Conversation

Questions: Have you initiated a Red Velvet Rope Policy, and if so, what difference did this make to relationships with your existing clients? What’s your Red Velvet Rope Policy? I'd love to get your feedback in the comments box below.

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