QUESTION: I have a couple of clients who are giving me only a minimal amount of work. How can I get them to give me more? I know there are plenty of additional things I can do for them and finances aren't an issue.
ANSWER: I'm very involved in the businesses of 80% of my clients. I have two clients who I totally run the day-to-day operations of their companies -- including budgets, bookkeeping, implementing ideas, managing staff, etc. When I started working with my clients they either had a 5 or 10 hour minimum -- now I rarely do less than 10 for any of them.
My secret?... I take my clients to the next step in our relationship is by "investing MY time" in learning more about their businesses and personal life. I spend at least 30 minutes of MY time (I do not bill them for this time) a week talking to my clients and catching up on what's going on with their family, business, and what their plans are for the future. When I hear something I can help with, I let them know.
You may be cringing now at the lost billable time -- especially if you know how many clients I have -- but I consider it marketing and promotion. I do let my clients know that I am investing this time in our relationship and they love it! I've developed a great professional and personal relationship with many of them.
The other 25% of my clients, we've identified their needs and they don't want to expand our work together for various reasons -- all of which make sense in their situation (that's why I still support them <G>).
This business model works well for me -- I have six clients I've been supporting since 1998. BTW...I did make a few mistakes choosing clients along the way, but I was able to identify incompatible relationships within the first 90 days of working together. All of my relationships have ended on a positive note with the exception of one. I've even received referrals from ex-clients.
Good luck in building your relationships.