Know When to Walk Away
“Know When to Walk Away”
Get your biggest profits by ditching your biggest client? It may sound crazy but that’s exactly what Julia Zimmer did.
Zimmer is president and CEO of Nexpro Personnel Services Inc., a Minneapolis-based staffing company. She launched Nexpro as an antidote to the impersonal treatment she saw in the industry. She’s dedicated to providing more personalized attention to job candidates.
"It’s so stressful to be unemployed," she says. "People need to be treated with respect."
But just as she opened for business in early 2001, she explains, the economy started to go south: "It was a terrible time to start a company."
By teaming up with a large national staffing agency as a subvendor for Wells Fargo, Nexpro stayed afloat during the recession. But subvendor markups are low, and working with another agency added a layer of complicated, time-consuming paperwork and spawned long waiting periods.
Zimmer was reluctant to give up the security and steady work that accompanied the partnership, but something needed to be done. "They really helped us during the tough times, but it didn’t make good business sense anymore," she says.
After sensing from her Wells Fargo contact that they might be able to work together directly, Zimmer gracefully terminated her contract with the other vendor and began to court Wells Fargo without an intermediary. She worked to build a more personal relationship with the client to show what Nexpro could do if given the chance.
Zimmer says she never regretted her decision. In fact, she noticed a change for the better within two months: Eliminating the extra management layer and complicated paperwork created more time to get more important work done. Business boomed: From 2001 to 2002, Nexpro’s sales grew 447%, profits 350%.