When It's Just Not Worth It

I've always believed that knowing what not to do helps you overcome 50 percent of the challenges in this life. That same mantra plays out in terms of knowing which clients are simply not worth your time.

In this issue, we take on the subject of knowing when to fire those customers who make your life miserable (see "Getting Rid of Bad Clients"). These are the same folks you dread hearing from, even on the most mundane requests, because they're rude and abusive or are terrible listeners, so they get everything wrong even though you've explained it gently three times. Ruthanne Terrero, CTC Group Editorial Director rterrero@questex.com 212-895-8423

The Simple Reasons

In most cases, the travails that trigger their screaming phone calls are simple ones. Perhaps they're not able to locate the limousine you've arranged to pick them up at the airport because they're standing in the wrong location. Or maybe they keep changing their minds on every decision they make on their trip, triggering a need for you to redo all of the work you've spent so much time on. Whatever the specifics of the situation are, the essential problem is always the same: They misunderstand the role that you're playing in their lives. You are their consultant, their advisor, but instead they think they've signed you up for a lifetime of agonizing labor.

There are only two words for these clients: Be gone!

You're the Boss

In my mind, taking this approach must be one of the most liberating moves a person can make. Why? Because, as an independent business owner, you're the one calling the shots. If you make a dramatic decision to cease doing business with a client, you don't need to sheepishly walk into the office the following day and explain to your boss that things just didn't work out between the two of you. Instead, you are able to cut your losses and move on without any obligation to anyone. How freeing!

In this same issue, we put you in touch with the industry associations that have been created to make your life much easier (see "Industry Associations"). These are the groups that can provide you with the knowledge you need to go it alone, whether it's CLIA or NACTA or the Travel Institute. Be sure to study this comprehensive listing carefully and make it a point to use the services of these organizations, if you aren't already. In this business, knowledge is power and power is what you need to navigate the role of being an independent travel advisor.