"The reason Toxic Clients can be so venomous is that there seems to be no way to send them out the door happy."

Most everyone has winced and said, "Oh, No." on seeing a phone number in their caller Id. Professionals and those in service industries are especially likely to meet people who fit into the Toxic Client category. In some of the book's descriptions, you may spot a one-time friend you prefer to avoid. The old chestnut warns, "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."

Sutton notes that those with new businesses are most likely to be fooled. A new secretary doesn't screen the caller, a new lawyer falls for a sad story, and a rush to have client work lets a new agency ignore their gut instincts. Also, giving a free meal or T-shirt to satisfy customer demands can create a pattern for abusing the system. Such scenarios will result in trying to keep happy a small number of clients who account for only 20% of the business. Your energy and time for customers who produce 80% of your income is sapped by attempting to collect overdue bills, answering repeat complaint calls, and trying to follow the golden, but bogus, business rule that the "customer is always right."

Sutton's advice starts with listening carefully without distractions; patterns can show up in tales the client spins about previous business dealings. Identifying a Toxic Client early is imperative as is having a written policy to handle such cases. As a lawyer, Sutton has experienced many toxic clients first hand. Skillfully, the author delivers his message through personal stories and fictionalized case studies, which are based on real happenings. An appendix offers three, professional-quality guides on how to remedy toxic situations. These include putting a Mechanics' Lien on the unfinished property of a non-paying customer, successfully using the small claims court, and hiring collection agencies. This is a must-read for client-based businesses.

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