How to Fire a Client
How to fire a client and still have them say “Thank you!”
It happens to all business owners at one point in their businesses. The dreaded moment when you need to fire a client. Sometimes we end up with clients who have the best intentions, but just aren’t working out. Maybe they are taking too long to get back to you with feedback, maybe they aren’t committed to the process, or maybe you are having a serious clash in personalities. Whatever it is, at first it might feel awkward to say “Bye Felicia” when the time is right, but you can do it in a way that doesn’t leave them feeling like you just dumped them, but instead has them saying “thank you.” Sound far-fetched? It can be done! Read on:
- Have a Backup plan for them
If you’re ready to say adios to a client, especially if it’s someone you have worked with for some time, it can be nice to offer them a backup plan. Now, if your client is a real pain in the you know what, it might not make sense to pawn them off on someone else. But, for those clients who are generally good, but maybe need a little more hand-holding than you have time to give, or perhaps stylistically they just aren’t a match, it can feel like less of a sting if you have someone else in your network to refer them to. When you bring this up, let them know that you have been thinking about it, and you feel like they would be better served by working with (fill in the blank). This way, they won’t feel like you are just leaving them in their moment of need, but instead that you are helping them get the most out of their business.
- Have an exit plan for them
If you are working month to month with a client, let them know the end date for your services. Unless it is a volatile situation, it makes sense to give them some notice that your contract will be coming to an end. If it is a one-time project that you will not be completing, have a plan in place for how much of the project will be complete before they get their walking papers. Of course, if you have the back up plan to offer them, it makes the exit strategy much easier to present and follow through on.
- Be clear about your reasons
If you need to fire a client for any reason, be clear with them about why. You don’t have to let them know you think they’re an a**hole (if that’s the case), but let them know (in the politest terms you can muster) why the relationship is not working out. This gives them a clear understanding of what went wrong, and also ends the potential back and forth that could occur if they want to try to convince you to stay on.
- Have a clause in your contract
Now, this is something that won’t help you if the relationship is already in progress, but keep this in mind for any future clients you sign up. There should always be a clause in your contract (especially for long term client relationships) that states how things can be brought to an end if needed. This will potentially save you a lot of heartache down the road if you can point to a specific clause in your contract when ending the relationship. If you don’t already have this in place, you may want to talk to a lawyer to make sure you add in the right language that will hold up, should that need ever arise.
When it comes to firing a client, it is never a fun process, but it doesn’t have to be a completely agonizing experience either. You can part ways with a client and have them thank you for it if they feel like you did it in their best interest as much as your own.
Have you ever had to fire a client? Leave a comment below and let me know how it went!
Dawn Sinkule, the Founder of Digital Dawn, is an MBA graduate, Strategy and Business Growth Consultant as well as a Certified Online Business Manager with more than 16 years of corporate experience working for a Fortune 50 company. Dawn and her team work with passionate six figure business owners who want to grow, expand, and explode their businesses. Dawn and the DD team provide your choice of self-implementation or fully done for you solutions, and both include detailed business strategies, automation, systems, and most importantly the satisfaction of knowing your business is heading the right direction. Her clients get not only the experience of a Fortune 50 leader, but also a personalized and customized strategy as well as an implementation team: AKA your secret weapon for success.