I fired a client today.

I didn’t want to, but I had to.

Well, OK. I *kind of* wanted to . . .

If you’ve been in business long enough, you’ve had the pleasure of encountering the entitled client. Let’s say, just for the sake of the story, that her name is Karen.

You know Karen. Even if her name isn’t Karen. You know her.

She doesn’t understand what’s taking so long.
Her dog has never had fleas and she doesn’t need that medicine thankyouverymuch.
She wants you to know that she has been coming to your practice for eleventy-something years and Dr. Stegosaurus never did it that way.
And she often talks about taking her business elsewhere but never quite seems to make good on that promise.

My Karen showed up this week wanting some calming medications for her dogs prior to the Fourth of July. She had not had an exam on either pet since I purchased the practice almost a year ago. Even so, I was willing to fill the meds in order to give her dogs some relief, as long as she scheduled an appointment in the near future.

Well, naturally this request fell on a day that we were woefully short-staffed and had multiple emergencies. She wanted the medications filled by 2:00. When she showed up at 2:15 and they weren’t ready she WAS NOT HAPPY.

She paced outside. She was angry she couldn’t come inside. She said she was never coming back.

I looked up while filling the medications. Arms flailing. More pacing. Goody.

When I brought her prescriptions out to her car, I smized hard (thanks, Tyra) with my mask and surgical cap on. I warmly introduced myself and started explaining her medications. Well, I didn’t get too far before she started listing her grievances. And there were many grievances.

It’s so hard to choose a favorite grievance, but if pressed I think I’d have to go with, “Why haven’t I met you??”

Me: “You haven’t had your dogs in for an exam in over a year, since before I bought the practice.”
Her: “Whose fault is that???”

So that’s where we were when the finger-wagging started.

Then she attempted a sentence that started with, “So if I were to come back here–”

Me: “Oh, I’m afraid that won’t be possible.”
Her: “What? Why?”
Me: “I don’t think we’ll be able to meet your needs. We’ll be happy to provide your records to your new veterinarian. Have a good day.”

I SAID GOOD DAY, KAREN.

I wouldn’t say I enjoyed this encounter. All things being equal, I would much rather not have had it at all. But I very much enjoyed feeling empowered to liberate myself from this client, knowing it was my choice to do so.

As a practice owner, you have to deal with a lot of shit you’d rather not deal with. The buck will always, always, always stop with you. The good news is that you also get to make the important decisions in your business. You can fire crummy clients. No–you SHOULD fire crummy clients. You owe it to your team to institute and enforce a Zero Tolerance for Assholes policy.