It’s normal for entrepreneurs who’re starting out to take any and all the work that comes their way because they’re still trying to build their client list and make their mark in their specific industry. However, you’ll find over time that there are certain clients that are not worth your time and you may need to fire them.
If you suspect that you’re facing a situation where you might have to consider letting go of a client, then read on. In this article, we’ll be sharing with you 6 red flags that are a good indication of when to end a business relationship and what to do if the situation is beyond repair.
6 Signs To Be Aware Of Bad Clients
- Unreasonably Demanding
- Asking For Everything in Exchange For Nothing
- Delayed Payments
- They Don’t Consider Your Advice
- They Disappear
- Lack of Respect
A client that contacts you at unreasonable hours or one that expects you to finish a job in an unreasonably short space of time can safely be labeled as unreasonable.
If you happen to experience the displeasure of encountering this type of client, then you might want to try out the following tips.
It’s important that you clearly communicate with them what your expectations are for the relationship so that they understand what’s acceptable and what’s unacceptable. Of course, this will be different for everyone, as we all have our own definition of relationship boundaries.
For example, some contractors have a strict “no weekends” policy while others are willing to work throughout the week and on weekends, so they have no problem being contacted by a client during the weekend.
Whichever end of the spectrum you fit into, be sure to communicate it to your clients from the beginning so that they can learn to respect your schedule and stick to it.
Rates and prices are often open for negotiation, as projects differ in technicality and difficulty. However, there are certain scenarios where a client will ask for such low rates that it’s practically impossible to reason and negotiate with them.
Penny pinching clients like this probably aren’t even looking for someone who’s going to do a good job in the first place and they most likely don’t appreciate the efforts that go into your work.
Furthermore, clients who grumble about your rate, in the beginning, will probably give you a whole lot of trouble when the time comes for them to settle an invoice.
If you’re confident in your abilities and know that you always put in 120% into your work, then it shouldn’t be a problem to let go of such a client because there’ll be plenty of fish in the sea for you. It might be in your interest to find someone else to work with!
To solve this problem, save up a portion of your business income each month until there’s enough in your “rainy day fund” for 3 months’ worth of expenses. This will come in handy when you’re dealing with a late-paying client.
On the other hand, if a client makes it a habit to pay your invoices late then it might be a good idea for you to let them go. Cash flow is king for any business owner!
A client that constantly takes their time to settle an invoice can be annoying to deal with, to say the least. However, you’d be surprised to learn that such clients aren’t doing this to undercut you, but are rather inundated with so many tasks and are unable to keep track of everything that your invoice includes.
One of the perks of being a contractor or consultant is that you get to help your clients realise their vision by taking your advice or using your services. However, you’ll find that some clients will completely go against your advice even though they hired you for it.
It’s even worse when you’ve been commissioned to do a particular job, only to find that it has been edited to the point where you don’t even recognise it as your work anymore.
The worst part is that this type of client will always go back to the contractor if something goes wrong, even though they’re the ones who failed to implement the advice you gave them in the first place.
Obviously, no contractor wants to work with someone that doesn’t respect their expertise, so you might have to end the client relationship in this scenario as well so that you can stay in your integrity and continue to work with people that will truly appreciate your services.
One of the most annoying situations for a contractor to deal with is a client that gives you a tight deadline and then disappears when you want to get feedback from them about the project. This will make it difficult for your team to do good work (which is vital for proving ROI).
This often happens with clients that wear so many hats within their organisation that they simply don’t have enough time to attend to everything. Their lack of response doesn’t mean that they don’t like your work or anything like that.
However, if you find yourself in this situation, ask if there’s another team member that you can deal with instead and make sure to keep a record of all your correspondence with them so that you have something to fall back on if you miss a deadline due to lack of communication.
If a client cannot show you enough respect to show up on meetings on time, or if they consistently speak out of turn, then it might be an indication that they simply don’t value you. The worst part is that their lack of consideration ends up eating into your time and affecting your business.
Just think about it, the time you spend waiting for them to show up could be spent working on other projects or speaking to potential clients that are genuinely interested in your services.
Similar to our personal relationships, it’s unhealthy to continue working or interacting with someone that doesn’t respect your time, your expertise and energy. There are clients out there who are looking for a talented and professional contractor like yourself to work with, who will show you respect and value your services from day one.
So, you’ve thought about the situation thoroughly and have decided that letting go of your client is indeed the right thing for you to do. Then how do you then fire a client… nicely?
In the next part, we will go through five top tips to help you manage this difficult and uncomfortable process well.
How To Fire A Client Nicely With These Five Top Tips
Pick up the phone
Firing a client over email is not only inconsiderate but unprofessional as well. Instead, give them a call and calmly explain why you’re letting them go as a client and let them know that you’re willing to help them transition to another contractor.
Consider the transition time
The notice period should be covered in your standard contract, and in most cases, it’s about 30 days or more.
Send a recap email
Your client may feel so blindsided by what they see as a sudden move from you that they’ll most likely forget most of what you talk about. That’s why it’s wise to send a follow-up email with all the details that you discussed during the phone call, including a plan of action.
While you’re still serving your notice, be sure to treat your client with respect, and with our the utmost professionalism so that there’s no tension between you moving forward.
Stick with your decision
As the leader of your organisation, it’s important to keep your word and stick to your guns once you decide to let go of a client. Lack of integrity won’t inspire confidence in your employees and will damage your role as a leader.
As you can see, there are several things that you can explore before you let go of a client. Whether your issue is based on poor communication or a lack of clarity from either side, the situation is always salvageable. Take the time to evaluate how bad the client relationship is.
However, if you feel like you’re really at the end of your rope and cannot afford to give the client another chance, be sure to communicate this clearly and with kindness so that you can still work together in the future if needed.
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