We Need to Talk

A moment of raw emotion and honesty. I just lost my largest client. I’m in a bit of shock.

I saw it coming. This wasn’t a surprise. I have been on borrowed time for over two years. Still, I’m sitting in my office at 8:30 at night, staring at my keyboard, numb.

I have, or at least try to have, a very personal relationship with my clients. I structured this business to focus principally on small businesses and the self-employed. Most of my clients have ten employees or fewer. They need more attention. One day I am helping to design a logo, the next a compensation package. People come in to my office to talk about religion and politics. It is all very relaxed.

I was referred to a suburban business eight years ago. The company was a start-up within a larger multi-state operation. There were five employees assigned to the new company. I set up their health policy. No big deal. There are clients who may go months between calls. This wasn’t that type of group. They had questions. Lot’s of questions. And if they didn’t like the answer, they would simply re-ask the question. One of the owners was positive that Ohio regulations applied to everyone but him. That’s OK. It kept me on my toes.

Then they took off. Huge. Incredible growth. By 2007 they had over 50 employees. Now, over 100. If they were referred to me today, I wouldn’t even take them. They are too big for me. Their needs too different from the daily requests of my other clients. But, up until today, they were mine. And I worked hard to meet their every request.

But in the end I couldn’t.

Their new agent will give them employee surveys and bring people in to teach CPR. I’m not equipped to teach CPR to 125 people and I always thought those surveys were bullshit. My apologies to HR professionals everywhere.

I won’t lie. It is a big hit on my income, but I won’t miss any meals. I think the bigger shock is that it is the end of a relationship. If you have read the other posts on this blog, you know that I am no stranger to terminating relationships. None of us are. But this is different. For my female readers, no this does not end with a half gallon of chocolate ice cream and two spoons. And for my male readers, no, you don’t get fixed up.

Can you mourn the death of a business relationship? Can you find honest emotion buried inside applications and claim forms. I think so. As with so many things that have lived well and passed on, I think I will sit here for a few moments and remember the best of those times and what made me happy.

And then I will move on.