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5 Things You Need to Know About Client Fires

Gray MacKenzie
Gray MacKenzie is a true operations nerd who has spent the past decade helping hundreds of agencies build more productive, profitable, and healthy teams by solving the core issues plaguing their project management.

To chat with Gray and have ZenPilot lead your team through the last project management implementation you'll ever need, schedule a quick call here.

Regardless of the age of your agency, I can guarantee with certainty that you’ve faced a client fire.

A client fire is a conflict that catches in a partnership. By definition, every fire starts somewhere. Like any creeping house fire, it often starts somewhere where you can’t see it. Here, it grows and grows until that small little flicker turns into something that threatens the livelihood of the entire house.

Your agency is your house. If you’re not care—and if you don’t have prevent or alarm systems—client fires can cause a lot of damage. 

Here are five things you need to know about client fires:

1.) There’s Always a Risk for Them

Just like in a house—the risk of a fire exists regardless of where you live. 

The bottom line is that if you’re not careful a fire will happen. Toss some bad daily habits into the mix? The likelihood goes up. Most fires can be prevented by a little knowledge and a lot of preparation. 

When it comes to a client relationship, it’s just like any other. The potential for things to go south exists. Your daily habits make a difference. The way you communicate makes a difference. The way you orchestrate the partnership makes a difference. 

Bad daily habits in a client relationship? Risk for a fire that won’t just harm your agency, but your clients as well. 

We can’t go strolling casually into client relationships. Our clients deserve better than that. They deserve prepared, disciplined professionals with processes in place to prevent conflicts. As an agency, it’s your duty to make sure the relationship goes along smoothly. 

2.) They Can Be Prevented

There is a whole lot you can do to prevent house fires. Again this comes back to daily habits, but also involves some up-front investments of time and energy. 

For a house you can:

  • Update your electrical wiring systems
  • Don’t leave things plugged in
  • Use certain kinds of light bulbs
  • Exercise caution when lighting candles/leaving candles lit
  • Be careful when using a fireplace and get your chimney swept each year
  • Avoid smoking indoors

The same goes for client firest. There is a lot of things you can do to prevent them with proper practices. Again, this isn’t something we should put onto our clients—we’re the agency in the relationship and we need to show professionalism. Our clients will engage based on the relationship we’ve established. 

This season on the Happy Client Show, we’re going to be talking about how you can prevent client fires. 

How’s that for a cliffhanger? Stay tuned for that as we stop, drop and roll through this season. 

3.) They Can Be Caught Early

What’s the first thing that will let you know about a fire in your home?

Smoke detectors catch fires when they emerge. A client relationship needs smoke detectors as well. These manifest in all kinds of ways, but it really comes down to overcommunication and great processes.  

We’ll be going over the various ways you can catch fires with some “smoke detectors” in your agency. 

4.) There is Equipment to Put Them Out

We all know about fire extinguishers and fire-putting-out techniques (or at least we should). 

But what kinds of techniques translate to our agencies? What do we “break the glass in case of fire” when a client fire happens?  

There are techniques and methods to stomp out flames before they have that opportunity to grow. If we don’t “break the glass in case of fire,” we’re running the risk that those flames will grow into roaring and extremely destructive fires. 

We need to use our alarms to catch them, then put them out with haste and caution.

5.) If Let Go, Client Fires Will Ruin the Relationship (and possibly more!)

A fire left go undetected in a house can do serious, serious damage. Furniture and rooms—gone. Many rooms—gone. Family and friends—at risk.

For the client relationships, your team could get burned if things go south. The partnership’s progress could be set back. In worst case scenarios, your relationship with the client could be charred without return. 

It doesn’t stop there though. Fires can go further if you’re not careful. Just like a raging house fire can take down the whole block. A raging client fire that’s in full blaze can damage your other client relationships and your agency. 

When It Comes to Client Fires

When it comes to client fires, there are two things I know to be true:

  1. You need to prepare for them because if you don’t, bad things will happen
  2. You need to take them seriously when they do occur

Exercise caution. Catch them early. Be prepared and squash them quickly. 

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