Is your Red Rope a Noose?

red rope principle, michael port, client vetting, be selective
Are you applying the Red Rope Principle?

Wow, the last couple of weeks have been challenging, to say the least! The aftermath of Cyclone Debbie has been far-reaching, even if you were not located directly in her path.

Many industries, especially insurance assessors and repairers, are experiencing exponential demand and growth. In some cases, there are in excess of 1,000 claims a day that need to be assessed, processed and actioned.

This in turn ripples out to their suppliers as they need more admin staff, estimators, builders, technicians, tools and materials to meet demand. They also need software upgrades, bespoke reporting etc. You get the idea…

Last week, I spoke to my friend (let’s call her Nancy) who is caught up in this mayhem. When I asked Nancy how things were going, she said:

“We are just trying to get through each day, I can’t even plan for this afternoon, let alone tomorrow or next week!  Our systems are doing weird things and I just want to leave!”

I started to think about that and I wondered, could Nancy’s situation have been avoided?  How often do we find ourselves in similar situations with our clients?

Preparing for Disaster

While not all disasters can be foreseen, here in Queensland Australia due to our tropical location, there are times when natural disasters such as Cyclone Debbie are more likely to occur. Those months are November – April.

The company Nancy works for has been in this industry for over 15 years – so it’s not their first rodeo; they know what to expect.

This business, like many others, started small and became very successful very quickly. They are still running their original software and many of their internal systems are manual rather than automated. They need to upgrade and modernise.

However, they have this pattern going on:

  1. Survive the storm season, (burning out many staff in the process).
  2. In May, the business owner calls a meeting with their IT providers.
  3. He is keen to upgrade, get efficient systems and blow his competition out of the water.
  4. The IT providers send him quotes to upgrade and detailed plans to prepare for the next storm season.
  5. The business owner promises to come back with his desired solution.
  6. BUT, he does NOTHING with the quotes!
  7. The next storm season comes and the whole process starts again.

This cycle has been going on for at least the last few years.

I can imagine what it’s like to be their IT support – ugh!

This reminded me of the importance of Client Vetting or in the words of Michael Port, applying the Red Rope Principle to every client (existing or new).

What is the Red Rope Principle?

Imagine you have been invited to the most exclusive club in town. You arrive at the front door, dressed to impress, and you are greeted by two well-dressed guards that stand on either side of a red velvet rope suspended between two gold bollards.

One guard asks you for your name, he checks the list and nods to the other guard, who promptly unlatches the velvet rope and gestures for you to enter.

The people behind you are turned away because they didn’t make the list.

How does it relate?

Now imagine the most exclusive club in town is your business and the people who make it beyond the Red Rope are your ideal client (your Avatar). Those turned away are not your ideal client and are better suited to the club down the road.


“Everyone is not your customer.”

– Seth Godin

It’s that simple!

How do your ideal clients get membership?

This list varies for each business, but here are the more common client behaviours to avoid:

  • Do they fail to listen to you or fail to follow your advice?
  • Are they disorganised or expect you to “jump” at the last minute?
  • Do they pay you late or sometimes not at all?
  • Do they say they will work with you to find a solution but keep working against you?
  • Are they always looking for someone to blame?
  • Do they suck the life force out of you?
  • Do you cringe every time you see their number come up or they send you an email?

Your time is valuable and so are the products and services you offer. Don’t waste your time on the wrong type of client. It’s your right to be selective!

What happens once they are in?

Membership to your exclusive club should not be considered Tenure. You set the hurdles they had to jump to gain entry, so it’s also important that those standards continue to be enforced even once they’re inside.

Things can change – an ideal client can behave like a non-ideal client – in which case it’s time to have a chat with them.  If they continue their less-than-ideal behaviour, move them outside the Red Rope again until (if at all) they “make the list” again.  Only let your Avatars in!

Is this too harsh? Not at all! If you don’t value your time and your business, how do you expect your clients to do so?

Your ideal clients can’t get enough of you, your product or services, so you owe it to them and to yourself to find them and service them well!

Above all, love life and love what you do!

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