When and How to Fire a Client

Despite one's best efforts at increasing efficiency at every step within the office, they always end up bringing miniscule changes. But if you want to increase your productivity dramatically, it's important to zero in on the most stressful and lost-time offender: problematic consumers.

When and How to Fire a Client

There are different types of clients you will meet across the span of your organization. While most of them will be amazing to work with there will always exist a few bad eggs whom you will have to let go.

On one end you have the nonresponsive, disappearing artist, and on the other hand is the clingy, nitpicking customer who fires off multiple emails in an hour and phones, texts, or issues an warrant asking why you haven't responded to the slightest change demanded by them.

You decide to be considerate towards them and make adjustments according to their unreasonable demands but after a while you discover that the clients who are being a thorn in the flesh are also costing you money and resources.

For each second you're investing trying to fix something that is broken beyond repair, you could be working with your ideal clients and earning more.

Despite one's best efforts at increasing efficiency at every step within the office, these always end up bringing miniscule changes to productivity. But if you want to increase your productivity dramatically, it's important to zero in on the most stressful and at many times overlooked offender: problematic consumers.

Many business owners and executives struggle to let go of a client even though they know it's for their best interests, knowing that retaining a client is easier than acquiring a new one. That may be true, but sometimes an opportunity is lost due to this stubborness to stick with a client.

Here's how to recognize when it's time for your business relationship to end. This article will try to elaborate upon and try to answer the key question which is "How do I Fire a Client?"

So, how can you tell when it's time to let a client go?

  1. They aren’t paying their bills: If they haven’t paid any invoices or made any payments for months, then it’s safe to assume they won’t pay anything in the future. Clients who don't pay on time are more than just a nuisance; they make it difficult for your company to operate. You simply can't afford them. One such experience with such an individual is enough. You need to be stern, and cut the strings loose.
  2. They are constantly late: When deadlines are not met over a period of time it leads to you losing on both time and money. You should try reasoning with them at first but when everything fails, you do not have much of a choice.
  3. The client Is verbally abusive: It's one thing to nitpick mistakes. It's another thing altogether to shout and abuse your team. If you have a client who frequently insults you or your employees, it's time to terminate the relationship instantly.
  4. They don't pay what you're worth: This is a difficult situation. Old clients, family or friends, and non-profit groups often ask for pricing which is less than the market value. If you dread working on a particular clients' projects or are overwhelmed with additional high-paying work, it's time to think again on what is best for your organization.
  5. The client keeps changing their mind: If you can handle the frustration of having to redo things time after time and have a clear understanding with the client that the constant changes will be added to the final bill. Otherwise, this is another case where you need to decide where your personal line is and if crossed you should promptly do what is necessary.
  6. When you give advice to a client and the client doesn't follow it, they expect you to pick up the pieces when things go wrong: The classic "I can do it better" hair-tearing experience is one of frustration and helplessness. The best approach to address it is to assist the client in overcoming his or her problem, if feasible. Then make the decision to not repeat the mistake by moving on.

If you are still contemplating on whether to fire a client or not, here is a link to more reasons you may be required to pull the plug. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/278437

Different types of nightmare clients

1. "I needed it yesterday": The client believes that just discussing an idea means the work will get done immediately. No matter how many times you try to set expectations appropriately, the client just is unable to comprehend it.

2. "Can't pay that right now": The client seems professional and put-together, but not only are they extremely demanding – requesting multiple revisions and lots of attention from your team – but only when it comes time to pay the bill they end up mentioning their cash flow crunches. All you need to do in this regard is to knock down the price and just let them go.

3. "This is all your fault": The client loves to speak over everyone. More than anything, they love to blame other people when things go wrong – loudly, and in front of their colleagues. They delight in making others feel small and shirk responsibility whenever something ends up going wrong.

To ensure these clients don’t end up on a project with them, many companies have strict guidelines and well-defined criteria to select their customers along with which customers are to be eliminated. This leads to a better workplace culture and less stress on the employees which ends up boosting productivity.

So now when we know which clients to fire and why, let's move on to how to say no to a client. This is important since if the client badmouths you to other prospective clients, it may lead to you losing a significant chunk of money over time. Here are a few ways with which you can avoid this scenario and make sure your relationship with the client is not harmed.

1. Be honest: As simple as this sounds, it is one of the most important steps to sever relations cordially. Also, do not mistaken being honest for rude. At the same time, writing multiple paragraphs explaining why you can't work with them, is quite detrimental and the reasoning should be limited to a couple of lines only.

2. Give the client alternatives: After saying no, you should not just leave them hanging. This  is a great opportunity to show that you genuinely care even if you cannot directly serve them. The best way to keep your ex-clients happy is by referring them to a high-quality alternative who can serve them better. This will lead to the ties still being cordial.

3. Write a script: Having confrontational talks might cause you to hesitate, stutter or simply forget what you wanted to convey. To avoid this, and to ensure that you say the proper thing, prepare a script before your conversation (or, use the scripts I have provided below). It's easy to want to obscure the negative facts between complimentary statements. Aim for empathy and honesty in your discussion. Make sure you set out an exit strategy ahead of time, as well as a clear understanding of the outcome.

If this wasn't easy enough, I will even throw in 2 readymade scripts for you to follow:

Script #1: You're Shifting Focus: In this case, you're informing them that your interests and business have shifted away from the existing profession.

“Mike, thank you again for allowing me to work with you. I've been considering my company over the past year and decided to pursue a new focus rather than continuing with my current profession. As a result, I'll need to reshape my client base Please know that it's been amazing working with you, and I appreciate your understanding as I enter this new phase of my life. I know you have a lot of work in the pipeline, so I'd be happy to help you find another partner who can give your business the attention it deserves.”

Script #2: You are Raising Rates: In this scenario, you want to double (or more) your rate to guarantee you'll price out your bad client.

“Zoey, it’s been a real pleasure to deal with you and your team. When we found out you had chosen us as your partner, we were overjoyed. Over the course of [five years], we've accomplished X and Y objectives together. I've lately reviewed my pricing and determined to adjust it. Over the last year, my company has expanded at an exponential rate, necessitating that I increase my fees to X as of Y date to meet this demand. If this does not work for you, I would be more than happy to refer someone in line with your budget. I'd really want to apologize for this inconvenience. I will try my hardest to assist you through this transition period. Please let me know if there's anything more I can do to make your stay here less challenging."


I hope you found that reading this article answered all your questions on how to fire a client. Make sure the step is absolutely necessary before going through with it and ensure that no bridges are burned along the way. Firing a client is understably difficult but trust me, you will definitely be better off once you've done it.

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