Thursday, August 5, 2010

Controlling Those Hanging Folders

I have just counted; thirty-four hanging folders in the drawer marked “Clients”

Does this mean I’ve had only 34 clients in the past 20 years?


And remember - I’m a pack-rat.

Here’s how it works: I added a new hanging folder each time I landed a new client. Now landing a client, to me, is just a little ways beyond that first series of emails.

A new client

About the time I submit a proposal, the contact is classified as a client; they get a hanging folder with their name.

Into their hanging folder go all my sheets of hand-written notes leading up to the proposal.

Ideally they will respond to the proposal with a 50% deposit.

Sometimes I get no response. The proposal, like the client, is “dead”.

I place the most recent addition at the front of the drawer; when the client calls, I can quickly grab the folder.

That means that the stalest folders are now at the back.

Here Comes a New Client

Take the stalest folder and empty the contents into the shredder. Gone!

Let’s face it, nothing ever came of it, and if they do contact me again, from my point of view, after all these years, they are a new client. We never got past the 50% deposit, remember?

Put the new client into the now empty hanging folder, place it in the front of the drawer.

I never have more than 34 hanging folders in there at one time.

Active clients

I am working on three projects at the moment. I pull those hanging folders and put them in my bookcase next to my desk. To work on the project I pull the folder, work on the contents, and replace the folder in the bookcase at the end of the day.

When the project wraps up, that folder goes to the front of the drawer.

My stalest clients are always at the back, and are prime candidates for dropping.

Chances are strong that when I do drop them, the original person with who I had contact will be long gone from the firm anyway.

Re-Awakening Clients

It happens often enough; a client calls or emails.

The hanging folder is pulled, updated, and replaced in the front of the drawer. That breathes new life into it.

Talk to Me !

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