Sitting on the edge of a counter is a bucket. Only partially filled, it continues to let water escape -- drip by drip -- from a hole at the bottom. Scurrying back and forth is a team of people, trying in vain to add enough water to fill the bucket ... or at least keep it level. But the water leaks out faster than the people can add to it. So they work even harder, but again to no avail. Realizing that there is a problem, they call a meeting to discuss possible tactics for successfully adding even more water. Decisions are made -- add more people in the water-filling process, spend more money, work even harder and for longer hours. In the past, similar approaches proved to be futile, but they would be tried again. Surprisingly, it never occurs to anyone that it would make more sense to either stop the leak or at least slow the drip as much as possible.

This scenario takes place every day. Companies -- large and small -- often fail to realize how and why their clients are leaking out of their buckets; they just know that they are indeed leaking out. So they decide to spend more money and man-hours on sales, marketing, and advertising, thinking that they can outpace the loss. These costly methods occasionally look like they succeed. However, many companies, seeing their apparent success, ignore their lack of profitability.

Always get more clients
Why is getting more clients usually first in our minds? To simplify the answer a bit, it is what we have been taught over the years -- get more clients ... always get more clients! Whether the theory has been put forth by college professors, business books, or what appears to be good ol' common sense, it is only part of a truly successful equation. Getting more clients is a very worthwhile endeavor, indeed, but not before being absolutely certain that you can retain the vast majority of the clients you attract.

Jim Collins begins his bestselling book "Good to Great" by saying that good is the enemy of great -- that settling for good conveniently offers most of us the reason (excuse) for not striving to be great. In the same way that being good often disguises the need or opportunity to be great, successfully attracting new clients often disguises the loss of the ones you already had.

But only when you're ready
Before you begin your next advertising campaign or marketing push, take the time to review the interactions you have with your clients. Examine each and every touchpoint where you come in contact with them. This includes your web site. Is it easy to navigate? Can people who have never seen it before easily and quickly find what they are looking for? Does it lead them to do more business with you or cause them to look for someone else?

Are your salespeople treating your clients as if they are guests in their homes? Do they engage clients in ways that make them happy that they are doing business with you? Do your policies and procedures appear to defend you against the clients, putting a wall between the two of you? If so, you should take action to change them immediately.

If you aren't certain how your clients feel about each and every aspect of your business that affects them, ask them. Even if you think you know how they feel, ask them. Many of us avoid this simple process because we are afraid of what the answers might be. And that is a clue to how you believe your clients feel about you. If you are nervous about how the vast majority of your clients are going to answer you, then you probably already know that you are not going to like what they have to say.

Do not make the mistake of asking now and then believing that once you have made adjustments that everything is fine. Running a business and interacting with clients is a fluid process. It changes from day to day, month to month, and year to year. Keep asking for their input, and when you need to make changes, do so immediately and intelligently.

Constant contact
Do you stay in contact with your clients on a regular basis? If not, you are missing one of the greatest opportunities a businessperson could have. By the way, once a year or once every six months may be on a regular basis, but it is not frequent enough. Depending on your business, you should be in touch with them at least once every three months and, in many cases, as often as once a month.

You think your clients might get sick of hearing from you? Not if you do it right. Not every contact should be a sales offer. In fact, the majority of them should be made with content that is merely of interest to them. For instance, if your clients are car dealers and you see a report that discusses the latest trends in used car sales, make copies and send one to each client. If you help retailers and you read an article that gives ideas on how to make long lines during the holiday rush appear to move more quickly, be sure to send it to them. Once they realize that the majority of your contacts are designed to help them, they will actually look forward to hearing from you.

From this point on, to have the greatest opportunity for the success you are striving for, look at your business from your clients' viewpoints, and never forget, your clients are the reason you are in business. Without enough of them, your bucket is going to continue to leak until the point where your business kicks it.

Author's Bio: 

As a speaker, author and coach, Peter George helps self-employed professionals achieve the success they've been striving for. His highly-acclaimed More Clients More Profits Workbook includes contributions from van Misner, Bob Burg, Susan Roane, Scott Ginsberg & others. Want to start attracting more clients right away? Claim your free copy of "101 Ways to Attract More Clients" at =>