When it's Time to Fire Clients - Why You Should
Updated: Jun 10, 2019
If you clicked on the link to this blog you are here for one of three reasons.
1. You are shocked by this notion because everybody knows "the customer is always right"
2. You are a business owner that is experiencing or has experienced a need to do this.
3. You were the client who got fired and want to know what that was all about.
THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT
Let's talk about that first point shall we. Upon my official entry into employment I received that gold nugget piece of advice "make sure you do whatever they want, the customer is always right." I recall the confusion hitting me immediately. Even though this was my first job and I was in my mid teens, starting as a cashier, I already knew there was an obvious issue with blanketing situations with this idea. If you had asked anyone at the time, they would testify to my being a responsible, respectable, and beyond-my-years reasonable individual who got along well with anyone. My point, I have never been one to create problems where there aren't any. But as I encountered my first situation of "customer abuse" it became very apparent to me that the only person that statement really benefited was the business owner who made the sale because the customer pitched a fit. And what bothered me is that part of my job was to take a punch because someone else couldn't be bothered to uphold a standard of basic and decent human interaction. Yay entry level, mid level, and managerial employees. You seeing my point yet? Caring more about your sales (via customers) than your employees, no questions asked, is a great way to ruin your business morale and by extension negatively impact more than just your overall atmosphere . As we often whiteness, when you don't prioritize employees this directly effects the rest of your business.
WHY FIRING CLIENTS IS NECESSARY
This particular issue is a much younger idea to business and entrepreneurship. After all, we have been taught that if it brings you money, who cares, take one for the team and get a pay check. But unfortunately bad client experiences effect far more than just our wallet. What also happens in this case is that there are a couple ways this issue surfaces.
The client is truly difficult, maybe even rude, and makes you and your team working with them a complete stress-fest from start to finish.
The client is unorganized, though truly a great person, their lack of order drags timelines out, they never follow through, change their mind constantly, and is constantly in need of you and your teams time in way that is draining.
The client and you just aren't meshing. Some people suck it up, but not everyone is at a place in their business where they need/want to.
The client started out great but now is abusing previous agreements and is even to the point of abusing your generosity.
The client constantly micromanages you no matter your accolades. Their lack of trust in you and your teams professionalism is frustrating to everyone and causes unnecessary backtracking to your projects, often times results in products/services that aren't up tp your standard.
These are just a few, and I'm sure you guys have a list all your own. Keep in mind you either comply fully to the terms of the agreement to the agreed upon date and/or forfeit what compensation was agreed upon to be received when you fire them.
Very recently I had to make a decision I didn't want to. I had taken on a local business as a client and was trading it some services. The owner was amazing as a person but when it came to the business, my direct experience was borderline chaotic (I mean that to be representational not rude). It started to effect my mood, my stress, and eventually I made the hard decision to let it go...future opportunities included. To be honest it was a pretty sweet agreement to start with, one that brought a lot of value to my time spent on their services. But after the lack of order internally started to surface, and the lack of professional trust kept being an issue (even though analytics were on my side), I decided that the money (value) of my time wasn't worth the stress. I take ALL my relationships in business very seriously so I was saddened that something that seemed so resolvable was the reason we had to go our separate ways. None the less, I was blessed to be in a place in my professional career where I could make this call.
Some people argue this that you become too emotional in business if this is happening to you. Now, all that being said I'm sure you're also aware that there are also situations where some of these characteristics might apply and you would still keep clients on. This is not a verbal consent to go fire every client you don't 100% get along with. It is not an excuse to being unprofessional. I take the position that as a business owner, it is my prerogative to make this call and it is yours too, so feel free to do what works for you regardless of what others think. There will always be an opposing opinion.
HOW TO FIRE CLIENTS WITHOUT BURNING BRIDGES
I get this type of question a lot. The answer can vary based on your level of comfort and how direct you like to be. Here are some suggestions to approaches I have used.
I am sorry but at this time my team and I will no longer be able to service you because ________. (Be very honest, clear, and straight forward)
I am sorry but we are not able to take on this project at this time. (Politely break away)
I am sorry but we are not able to work on this for you any more. However, if you are interested, we have a __________ available that we would love to chat with you about. (Remove the object of frustration but try to maintain that relationship).
I am sorry but at this time we are not taking on new customers. If you need assistance finding ______ here are a list of alternatives we recommend. (Polite and helpful)
Thank you for the opportunity, we really appreciate it. However at this time we feel your needs may be better suited elsewhere. (Full of gratitude which is always a good note to end on).
Remember always - you are a professional, trust in your experience. Be respectful, don't burn bridges (in most cases) and most of all, choose your conversations carefully - centered around the lifestyle you want to create and maintain for yourself.