Nothing can match the feeling of landing your first client, right?
When you get started with your business, there are a number of clients who will connect with you for their respective requirements. While conducting the business operations, you will get in touch with some appreciative clients who compensate you appropriately and some who won't fit the bill.
As a business owner, everyone tries their level best to maintain and repair the relationships, but there are times when you have to take a tough call and let that disturbing client go.
Though it is not easy to fire your existing clients, considering the time, efforts, money, and investment you put towards pushing the development of that professional relationship.
But at the same time, instead of spending time on an unfixable situation, it is better to fire the client at the right step.
In this article, we will be discussing due diligence and the plan to fire a client professionally such that everything ends on a positive and healthy note.
The article covers the following!
- What are the factors that lead to firing a client?
- When is the right time to fire your client?
- How do you fire clients the right way?
- Sample scripts to fire the client politely
- How to avoid the problem of bad clients?
- Bottom Line
- Key Takeaways
What are the factors that lead to firing a client?
Firing a client is not just the result of one factor!
There are a lot of factors that make one realize that it's probably time to end the client relationship.
The major five factors that lead to firing a client are as follows:
- Clients who are unresponsive and don't respect your time and boundaries.
- The clients who think that every project is easy to do without realizing the complexity of the back end work
- The clients who are dishonest and are abusive to you and your team members.
- The clients who cost your mental health, time, and efforts.
- Clients who expect you to be available 24/7.
There is no doubt that a business owner can adjust their style and process based on clients, but the client should also understand and realize being on the other side.
If they do not understand your side, they cannot be your trustworthy partner.
When is the right time to fire your client?
Evaluating the right time to fire a client is indeed a difficult job!
Before making the final decision to fire the client, there are a lot of questions that you need to answer beforehand like
- What if my major part of my income depends on them
- What if firing a client would be unethical
- What is firing a client will lead to a bridge of contract
Before jumping to a conclusion, the first step you can take is to address the situation by raising the pain points with your client.
It is always better to communicate with your client, find solutions and amend the ways to make it easier to work together that can turn the relationship around.
It starts with simply setting up a meeting with the problem client, understanding the two-way rounds, and resetting the relationship with the new contract or new processes.
You can either offer a transition period where you can volunteer to find out and train the replacement who will be working with the client or handle the situation diplomatically by saying that,
"I have been observing these problems for a few days, and I feel it isn't working out. I wanted to discuss how we can rectify and believe that we can work together more efficiently."
Despite all the efforts you put in
If these tactics don't work out, realize that a situation is only temporary, and it's time to map out the exit strategy.
It is not a guarantee that the process will work out, but at least you tried and gave your best efforts to build conversation and mend relationships with your outgoing client.
How do you fire clients the right way?
Once you have decided that the client isn't worth keeping, you still have the feeling to end things the right way.
Being rude to the client, saying nasty things to the client, or insulting the client is not an option, even if you hope not to deal with them ever again.
The reason is that people talk more about their bad experiences as compared to good experiences in the business.
If you practice such methods, it can definitely tarnish your reputation and may lead to difficulties finding the right opportunities and better clients in the future.
Then how to end the client relationship?
The answer to the question lies in practicing a few considerate and professional ways that can help you easily fire the client without any heated conversations.
The list of the three ways to fire the client is as follows:
- Finish all your tasks
- Put your words in writing
- Follow up with a phone call
1. Finish all your tasks
If you have any work in progress, deliverables, or tasks that needs to be completed before the delusion of the contract, complete it way before and perfectly wind up the engagement.
If the work needs to be carried out in the future, you can refer to your contacts such that they can take it up from there.
2. Put your words in writing
When it comes to firing a client, email is one of the most effective ways to communicate your decision.
Before that, you are free to carry out a conversation with the client over the phone or on meeting platforms, but putting the words into writing can serve two purposes:
- First, it will not put the client on the spot and
- Second, It will clearly state the reasons for your decision so that the client can't argue about what was said later
3. Follow up with a phone call
Take this as a final step of getting over a call with the client to ensure that the client has read the email and understood the reason for not working together.
Since it is a business decision, please do not end up making the argument personal and keep it calm and professional.
This step is also a good opportunity to discuss procedures like returning access to the necessary files, collecting any outstanding balance, or referring them to your contacts.
Instead of leaving them frantic or stranded, help them gracefully overcome the situation and end up on happy terms.
Sample scripts to fire the client politely
Before firing the client, putting your words into writing is a serious task!
If you are not sure what to write, the following are the samples scripts that you can adapt to fit your situation and politely deal with the client:
- If you and the client agree that you are not able to meet their needs
- If the client is horrible to deal with, you need to present your thoughts politely
- If the client is not paying the bills on time
1. If you and the client agree that you are not able to meet their needs
" Dear (Client Name)
Hi! It was a great opportunity to work with you over the last year.
But as a result of our previous deliverables and outcomes and after discussing with my team, I have concluded that we are not the best business to meet your expectations and needs.
We think you need a different partner who is on the same page with your vision and expectations.
Unfortunately, our business term ends here, and we hope you respect our decision.
But since I have closely worked with you and know your expectations, I have a person in my contacts who will be a better fit for you.
Please let me know if you need the details, and I will help you connect with the concerned.
Once again, thank you so much for considering us as your business partner, and I hope you end up getting the best person for your work. "
2. If the client is horrible to deal with, you need to present your thoughts politely
" Hey (Client Name)
As our business association for the past three years, it's been an honor to work with you. Unfortunately, I have been evaluating my business for the past few months and have decided to move in a different direction.
It's a difficult decision for me, but this is what the situation demands right now.
As a result, I will have to let go few clients and will be no longer be able to serve you from (Proposed date of discontinuing the services)
I promise to complete all of the deliverables mentioned in the contract and close it on good terms.
I appreciate your understanding to embark on the new phase of my business and would be happy to help you find a new partner who can provide you the services based on your expectations.
Thank you so much, and I wish the best to you."
3. If the client is not paying the bills on time
" Dear (Client Name)
I hope you are doing well. With reference to our conversation over the call, I am writing this email to let you know that as of (Mention date), I won't be able to serve you.
As per the contract terms, I will wrap up the project we have scheduled for the month. I am sending you the final invoice of our collaboration.
I request you clear off the bill within 3-5 business days and close the deal professionally.
I again appreciate the opportunity to work with you and wish you the best in all future endeavors.
Please let me know for any other clarity."
By creating and following these scripts, you can fire the client on a polite note by mentioning every point in clarity.
You can also customize your script based on the situation, followed by a solution and defining the next steps.
How to avoid the problem of bad clients?
As a result of conducting numerous prospect and client calls over the business time, you can understand recognizing the problem clients.
Though it isn't easy to recognize them in the first place, as soon as you realize it, it is always better to avoid working with them.
Following are the four tips that will help you to avoid the problem of dealing with bad clients:
- Qualify your client and create a client acceptance criteria
- Watch out for red flags
- Provide a clear and upfront communication
- Rank the reference sources
1. Qualify your client and create a client acceptance criteria
You cannot take responsibility for everything. So it is better to be clear about whom you want to work with and onboard only those clients that fit your "ideal client" criteria.
For example, your criteria can be working with clients in a particular niche, so you will choose only those clients that will match up with your expectations and deliveries.
It also depends upon person to person and the nature of the business that one owns!
2. Watch out for red flags
If your client doesn't pay on time, or sets any kind of unrealistic expectation, or is unresponsive with meetings and messages, it's a big sign to walk out before working together.
Clients who don't respect your time and treat you poorly before the official onboarding are unlikely to improve their behavior later.
So without wasting any time, it's better not to take the deal forward.
3. Provide a clear and upfront communication
Communication is a two-way process that clearly outlines the scope of work, deliverables, fees, and terms and conditions to be made by both parties.
Before signing the contract, explain the processes and expectations to the clients to ensure that both parties are in the same boat. It also helps you prevent any kind of misunderstandings in the future and ease the work process.
4. Rank the reference sources
If your same referee is giving you demanding clients, it is imperative to watch out. There might be chances that one of your competitors may be referring to the same problem client that has approached you, and you can end up badly.
It's always important to consider whether you want to accept the reference from that source in the future or not.
The situation of dealing with a difficult client is bound to happen!
It is not easy to fire a client, but it's better to get rid of the problem client who doesn't value your services and costs your inner peace.
Firing a client is always an absolute last resort!
It is that final step that you take upon considering that the relationship is beyond repair, and if you continue working with them, it may hurt you, your team, and your customers.
Letting the client go is extremely difficult!
But if you are clear, direct, and honest in your arrangement, the final closure may be less painful.
Just make sure that if you have made up your mind to fire the client, there should be no scope of negotiations or discussions that can overpower your decision.
Short-term pain is better to deal with rather than long-term pain!
The next step could be to spend time serving good clients and networking to find better clients who will value your services and respect your boundaries!
Every business has to deal with the occasional bad client. Therefore, it is important to recognize and let go of those clients who are causing you grief and costing you money.
Those clients neither respect your expertise nor work ethics, so it's better to cut the cord with the right plan and end the way.
In this article, we determined the factors before making the ultimate decision to fire the client and discontinue the operations.
We also observed the client-firing ground rules and laid three scripts that you can follow to fire the client politely by keeping your professional reputation intact.
Following are the key takeaways of the article:
- Factors like unresponsive behavior, dishonesty, and unrealistic expectations laid by the client lead to the decision to fire the client and end the relationship
- Evaluating the right time to fire the client is based on a lot of ifs and buts.
- Every business owner tries to solve the problem and amend the ways to make the client relationship work. But despite the efforts, if the tactics don't work out, it's better to map out the exit strategy.
- It is crucial to ending things the right way before ending a client relationship without sounding rude or insulting the client.
- A list of professional ways can help you easily fire the client without any heated conversations.
- The list of ways includes finishing the tasks, putting the words in writing, and following up with a phone call.
- If you are facing difficulties in drafting an email, then you can follow the sample scripts to adapt and fit as per the situation.
- Getting an understanding of recognizing the problems clients can help you to avoid the problem of dealing with them.
- Tips like qualifying your client, watching out for red flags, providing clear and absent communication, and ranking the reference sources can help avoid dealing with bad clients.
- Firing a client is always an absolute last resort.
- If the relationships are beyond repair, it's better to spend your time serving good clients and networking to find better clients who value your services and respect your boundaries.