You Are Stuck With Your Family, But Not With The Wrong Customers

A guide to picking your customers and choosing when they're not the right fit. Don't fish with an alligator in your boat!

December 17, 2019

In this season of joy and celebration, there is one thing that unites all humans across the globe: everyone has THAT relative. Whether it’s the loud uncle or the little nephew that broke the skin on your forehead by throwing a block at close range...twice. Everyone has that relative.

And what can we do about it? The ties that bind families, both personal and legal, make it difficult to get distance from the family member that saps your joy. So we get in the car and drive to the family Christmas party and cope the best that we can. Some people do it by finding a corner to catch up with the relatives that you really miss, others stand outside shivering. I may or may not turn to a 3 finger pour of bourbon. We all try to find a happy place in our own way.

But what about the customer that sucks all of the oxygen out of your office? They might be great people and great clients for another company, but if they aren't a good fit for your strengths and your team, they are a bad customer for you.

Why Do I Have An Alligator In The Boat?

A former employer of mine used to say, “It’s hard to fish when you have an alligator in the boat.” This was his way of saying that the wrong customer can cost you money. If you have a client that doesn’t fit your company, whether it is because their needs are not in your sweet spot or because their personality doesn’t mesh with yours, then you are losing money. That client is getting your valuable time and expertise (and possibly doesn’t appreciate it). So you have less time to find clients who really are a great fit for your business.

Unfortunately, when you don’t have enough leads, it is very difficult to identify and avoid the alligators.

The Key To Picking Your Customers

I have a natural skepticism of simple solutions that “change your life”, but in this case, I do believe in the miracle cure for bad customers.


If I were in your shoes right now, I would be questioning whether it was worth my time to read the previous 351 words including the title.

Please allow me to explain why marketing is the secret to avoiding alligators in your boat.

Marketing strategies that depend solely on relationships and referrals don’t generate enough of the right kinds of customers for your company to grow. Strategies that fail to take the time to define your customer and your message produce leads that aren’t a good fit, and those leads frequently turn into alligators in your boat.

A Challenge for the Coming Year

Once you return to the office after spending the holidays with family (both the family you enjoy and those “special” relatives), spend a little time thinking about your marketing plan. Once you develop a strategy to generate more of the right kind of leads, you can be a little more selective and avoid inviting alligators into the boat.  

Join us in setting a goal to spend a little more time fishing and a little less time watching those alligators.

I wish we had the expertise to offer more advice on surviving your family's Christmas gathering. All I can say is that if you are looking for bourbon, Elmer T. Lee is a fantastic choice.

P.S. I know that there may be a small number of you thinking, “I don’t know what Jamie is talking about! This post doesn’t make any sense because there isn’t anyone annoying in my family who dominates conversations and annoys everyone.”

If that's you, then I have bad news. EVERYONE ELSE in your family knows who the annoying person is...

Writer: Jamie Parris

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