How to Fire a Client
Are you ready to draw more profitable and enjoyable client relationships to your business? Stellar clients light you up, bring pride to your work, and make being an entrepreneur a joy.
You don’t lose sleep over these clients, or worry about them when you’re supposed to be enjoying your time off. You don’t cringe or grunt when you see their number on your display screen or their email in your inbox.
You just do the work you want to do with people who are happy to hire you and pay your going rate in a timely manner.
Now comes the tricky follow-up question. (You knew it was coming…)
Do you have room for these great clients in your business right now—mentally and logistically?
You see, the time you spend fretting, avoiding, placating, and mentally telling off those problem clients limits the resources you have to attract and serve the kind of clients that feed your soul and your bottom line.
The only way to make room for more unicorns is to thin the donkeys from the herd.
If you’re reading this post now and a client (or two or three) comes to mind, then you’ll want to pay attention to the next bit. I’m going to show you how to get rid of those clients who drag you down instead of fire you up, the ones who make it harder run a successful business.
(Before we go any further, let’s get one thing out of the way. A client who doesn’t light you up is not necessarily a bad person, and we’re not making a judgement call here on character. A bad fit is simply a bad fit, and you can fire clients who are not bad people.)
Why and How to Break Up with a Client (with Scripts to Make It Easy)
These scripts assume you’ve already taken measures to correct the problem and they have failed. Don’t fire someone without trying to make it right first! Done successfully, those kinds of relationships tend to become the best ones.
However, if you’ve already tried and are ready to call it quits, this section is for you.
Reason #1: It’s Not Them, It’s You.
Why: You’re Not Doing the Work You Want To Do
Maybe they hired you in your early, hungry days when you were willing to do almost anything to pay the bills. Now you’re stuck doing work you’ve long since stopped advertising for new clients, and every time you do it, you feel like you’ve taken a step back.
How: By Developing a Referral Partnership
Find a reliable resource who does what you no longer want to do. Set up an informal or formal relationship to offload this work. You’ll help someone further down the ladder build their business while you concentrate on expanding yours.
Script: The Gentle Handoff
“Mary, I’ve enjoyed working with you these past [number] months/years. However, my business has grown in a direction that no longer includes the kind of work I do for you. While I’m excited about this growth, it does mean I have to stop doing [thing you do]. The good news for you is that I have a colleague who can help you. Her name is [name], and she’s been in business for [number] years. She’s got a special offer for my clients. Just tell her I referred you and she’ll give you all the details.
Be sure and call her before [date you’ll stop working] because I won’t be able to do any work for you after that time.
It has been a pleasure working with you, Mary, and I wish you continued success.”
Reason #2: Your Clients Aren’t Worth Your Time.
Why: Older Clients Don’t Want to Pay Your New Rates
You enjoy the work, but over the course of time your skills have grown and so have your rates—except for this client. He won’t budge from your original fee schedule, and you don’t want to lose the work because you like it. However, over time, you’ll begin to resent even enjoyable work if it doesn’t come with fair compensation. And you’ll miss out on clients who are happy to pay your going rate.
How: Call Their Bluff
You may think the client has all the power in this scenario, but that’s only true if you keep giving in. Don’t budge on your rates out of guilt or pressure. Giving a discount is far more enjoyable when it’s a choice you make and not one that’s made for you.
Script: The Line in the Sand
“Bill, you said that you don’t have the budget to meet my new rates, which is a real shame. I enjoy working on this project, but I won’t be able to continue after [date you’ll stop working] unless you agree to my current rate structure. When you shop around, I think you’ll discover that my fees are well within the average, and I hope you’ll be able to adjust your budget and hire me again.
Until then, I wish you the best of luck on your project.”
Reason #3: Your Clients Are Never Satisfied (and Never Will Be).
Why: You Can’t Make Them Happy, No Matter What You Do
Perhaps your contact changed, and you don’t click. Or their company or industry is going through a slump and they blame it on you. Maybe they don’t know what they want, and since you don’t know either, you’ll never succeed. Either way, you’re fighting a losing battle.
How: Set Them Free
Increasing demands and inconsiderate communication are indications the relationship has gone past the point of repair. Your efforts at setting expectations have failed, and there is no reward for sticking it out when the there is no path to resolution.
Script: The Grass is Greener
“Jack, it’s clear we’re not on the same page here, even after multiple attempts to align with you and your team. You aren’t satisfied, and I’m not satisfied, and we don’t seem to be any closer to finding mutual ground. Rather than continue down this rabbit hole, I suggest we agree on the final deliverables and end this agreement on [date you’ll stop working] so you can find a better fit for your needs.”
When You’re Finally Free…
Your heart might beat fast as you say these words out loud, and you may dread the conversation in the days leading up to it.
However, as soon as you say goodbye and good luck, you’ll feel a huge weight lift from your shoulders. You’ll breathe easier, and you’ll feel a renewed energy about your business.
And what happens after that? Well, that’s entirely up to you.
May I suggest a VIP Business Accelerator? It’s the perfect way to fill to overflowing the small gap these problem clients leave behind. Let’s talk!