Relationships are at the forefront of business: relationships with your team members, relationships with your clients, and relationships with your prospects. However, managing relationships can be difficult, such as helping your team members navigate challenging conversations with clients or trusting them to handle prospects in the best possible way. How your team speaks to both prospects and clients is a direct reflection of you and the company. In most cases, this shouldn’t be an issue if you trust the team member. But, what happens when it’s the clients that are acting up?
This can be a problem across multiple industries, but Adam Jacobs, Managing Director of Bubblegum Casting, sees it frequently within his own business dealings. Because he and his team manage over 1,800 kids, they deal with the parents of the kids frequently. “Everybody believes that their child is unique and amazing, and I don’t disagree! But, we had over 22,000 kids apply last year and we represent 1,800. We have to vet all of those children, but even then, parents whose children don’t do well within the agency are not always nice to the team,” Jacobs confided.
So, what to do? Jacobs shares what helps him and his team manage these problem clients with resilience and kindness.
- Prioritize communication.
“Sometimes, the very best thing that can be done is patient communication about the processes,” Jacobs said. For his team, this looks like explaining auditions and different industry opportunities, and the work that the agency is doing for each member of their talent roster. “Communicate that you’re doing the best you can, and practice resilience for and with your team. This means staying kind and level headed even when clients are particularly upset.”
Many problems arise from a lack of communication, so the business’ processes should be communicated upfront, before a contract is even signed. When in doubt, overcommunicate. Make sure all parties have all the information they need so there are no surprises once the working relationship begins. This helps everyone involved, team included.
- Help them help themselves.
One approach Jacobs has taken is helping the talent succeed in other ways, such as through his book, The Complete Guide to Child Modeling: A Guide from One of the Longest Running Talent Agencies in the World. The book is more of a manual, is written directly by Jacobs, and features all of the best success tips to help talent succeed in the industry.
“I also write articles for parents about the best ways that their children can succeed, noting values such as optimism, creativity, and hard work,” Jacobs explained. “That way, rather than having my team talk through everything with each parent, we can give them these resources to help them help their kids.”
Remember that your clients are coming to you for a service, because they trust you to help them reach an end goal. Sometimes, providing educational resources to help them understand how to better increase their chances of reaching the end goal can be helpful. This can even just further explain the practices that your business puts into effect when serving the client, including success stories. Think of this information as an ‘armor’ for your team members to use if clients are being particularly abusive and questioning everything.
- Encourage collaborative problem solving.
Jacobs is a big proponent of creating safe and collaborative company culture, and he believes this begins with the team members and their relationship to each other. So, think through ways that the team can problem solve together.
Perhaps there’s a weekly meeting to discuss any problems that arose in the prior week, and everyone can put their heads together to think of potential solutions or ways to avoid the problems moving forward. This can boost team morale and help with future problem clients – since, unfortunately, there always will be a few.