The first step to terminating a contract with bad clients is knowing that you have one. There are a lot of factors to consider when deciding whether or not to fire a client.
The most important thing is that you have been honest about your expectations from the beginning, and that you have communicated openly with them throughout the process.
If you find yourself wondering how to fire a client, then this article will help you to understand the signs that your client may not be a good fit for you.
Client Management is a huge part of being a business owner. Identifying the good and bad clients is an important part of your role.
Setting expectations for your clients and understanding what they expect from you are at the heart of managing a business relationship with them.
If you haven't had this conversation in advance, then it's time to put things on paper so that there can be no misunderstandings about their expectations when working with you.
Be sure to get their feedback and make adjustments where needed. It's important that you don't let your clients believe they can walk all over you.
However, if there is a way of understanding each other better in this phase, then it will save time later on when both parties are more comfortable with the arrangement.
5 Signs of a Bad Client
1. Unrealistic Demands
When clients start to make unreasonable requests or set deadlines that are not feasible for you to meet, then it is time to pull the plug.
Don't be afraid of being upfront with them about your own needs and limitations as a freelancer.
2. Bad Business Etiquette
This includes things like asking questions related to your projects without signing an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement). If they are unwilling to sign an NDA, then there is a good chance that your intellectual property may be compromised.
This can cause long-term damage to both your business and reputation in the industry.
If you have been providing work for them on a regular basis without receiving payment from them, then it's time to move on.
Paying long after agreed-on deadlines is also a sign that they are not willing to honour their side of the contract.
4. Only out for Themselves
Be wary if your client only ever talks about themselves and avoids questions related to you or your business process.
This may be because they don't really care about you as much as you think, and will try to get as much work out of you while paying the bare minimum.
5. Poor Anger Management Issues
If you notice that your client gets angry very easily or is especially demanding, then it may be a sign of them not being able to handle the stress.
They might also try to take their frustrations out on you by giving unreasonable demands and deadlines, which can cause harmful effects all around.
6 Ways to Fire a Bad Client
1. Figure out the right time
Find the right time to talk to your client about the situation. It might be when you're working with them on a project, or it could be at an earlier stage depending on the relationship that you have built.
Don't wait until it's too late and they are already frustrated by not being able to get their work done in time. Make sure that both parties are clear about the expectations from the beginning, and that they're willing to work within your business model.
If communication is not possible with them for whatever reason, then it's time to move on. You can't build a solid relationship or trust if there are no lines of communication between you both.
Sometimes firing bad clients just takes patience. If there are problems with them not meeting deadlines, then you can either raise your rates to compensate for this stress or offer a transition period in which both parties agree on what needs to be done.
It may feel unfair that the client is asking more of you than they signed up for when they hired you. However, it's important that you stick to your guns and do what's right for you.
2. Raising Rates vs Offering a Transition Period
If the client is not willing to cooperate with your new rate, then it may be time to move on. You can't afford to work at a loss just because they're unwilling or unable (because of their own limitations) to pay a fair rate for your work.
When offering a transition period, make sure that you're clear on the expectations from both sides and how long this period will last.
You can then end it at an appropriate time to ensure that they are able to find someone else as well as giving yourself enough lead-time before starting another project with them.
Firing your client is not always easy, but it will help you to move on with life. Make sure that you're upfront and honest about the situation without blaming them for everything (even if they are at fault).
Take responsibility where necessary. If you need more time before making a decision then give yourself some space while still remaining friendly towards them.
3. Communicate in a Professional Manner
Your client may not engage in the conversation in a professional manner. However, you are obligated to be polite and make the best of your situation by continuing to communicate with them in this way.
You can also use their behavior as feedback on how they might approach future projects, which will help you decide whether or not working with them is really appropriate for your business model.
They may also go MIA on you and stop responding to emails or messages. This is a good time to take a break from your project with them as well, because it could lead to big problems in the future if they're not willing to communicate properly.
Don't let emotions get involved when firing bad clients. Instead, focus on having a level conversation and being firm about the situation.
You can then move on to working with clients that are more reliable and respectful of your time, which will benefit both you as well as them in the long run.
4. Offer Excuses like Switching Business Approach
Make clear that you're changing your business approach. Switching to another industry or focusing on other services is an option.
However, make sure that whatever direction you decide upon will be outside of what the client would need from you in order to continue working with them. After all, they shouldn't follow along if there's no benefit for them to do so.
If they're not willing to go along with the change, then it might be time for you both to part ways. You can't build a solid relationship or trust if there are no lines of communication between you both.
5. Have a straightforward Talk
Don't beat around the bush when firing bad clients. It's okay to sugarcoat things a little, but don't pretend like everything is fine in order to save their feelings.
Though it might be difficult for both of you in the moment, having an upfront conversation will make your relationship better moving forward (even if they can no longer benefit from your services).
Once you've said your piece, it's best to leave the client alone. Let them process everything that was just discussed in order for you both to remain professional and communicate in a respectful manner.
It may feel unfair that the client is asking more of you than they signed up for when they hired you.
However, it's important that you don't take this personally. Instead, you should focus on what the client needs from you and why they may be unable to fulfill their end of the contract in order for everyone involved to move forward successfully.
It takes a certain amount of maturity when firing bad clients because it could result in a loss for both parties if not handled properly.
However, being honest with your clients is the best way to maintain a professional relationship in order to have positive outcomes for both parties.
6. Frame it in a way that benefits them
Make it clear that you're making a business decision rather than one based on emotions. This will help them to see that you're doing what's best for both of your interests.
You can also let them know that this has nothing to do with their work ethic, personality, or potential as a client (if any of these factors are actually true).
If the split is amicable then you can offer to keep in touch with your client and let them know when you'll be starting new projects.
This way they might still benefit from working with you at a later date, which is always better than never knowing if the two of you could have had something great going forward.
It can be difficult to fire a client, but it's necessary if you want your business to succeed.
Keep in mind that the situation is also difficult for them as well and focus on being professional throughout the process so that both parties walk away with their dignity intact even though things didn't work out.
The end of a project is always hard, but it's especially difficult when you have to fire somebody. It can be tempting to hold onto hope for the sake of saving face or maintaining the contract between both parties.
However, this could result in an even more toxic relationship moving forward if they're not willing to work with you on business decisions that are best for your business.
It's up to you whether or not the two of you will be able to remain in contact after a split, but make sure that your decisions are always in line with what would benefit you both going forward.
After all, it could harm your future relationships if word got out about how difficult they were when working under them as a client.
Learn to say goodbye when it's best for your business in order to keep working relationships healthy and strong moving forward so that you can continue creating great work!