8 Signs It’s Time To Fire A Bad Client & How To Do It
Client relationship building is a large part of your long-term business growth.
Your partnerships reflect your brand and your services, which is why you need to do your part in respecting your clients.
If your customers do not return the favor, you have the authority to take action.
This article explains why you should end a client relationship, how to amend it, and how to terminate the partnership.
8 Reasons Why It Might Be Time To End A Client Relationship
An essential part of the business is your ability to read clients, their motivations, and how they treat people respectfully.
Below are several situations you should reevaluate your relationship with the client and initiate a change.
1. The Client Requires More Time Than They Are Worth
You are an expert in your industry, so you understand how much your time is worth. If the time spent with the client is wasted and unproductive, it might be time to move on.
There is also an opportunity cost involved in working with a bad client. Investing extra time into a client that drains your energy will degrade your quality in other parts of the business.
Each client is critical and should be valued. However, you have a solid idea of how much each client is worth.
Here are some examples of how a lousy client might waste your time:
- Showing up unprepared for meetings.
- Unwillingness to commit to a plan, delaying the workflow process.
- Shooting down all your ideas.
- Taking a long time to reply to emails, questions, or deliverables.
2. The Client Continuously Shoots Down Your Recommendations
The client hired you for a reason: to guide them to success. Although the client knows their business, they signed a contract with you to provide actionable insights for their organization.
You invest your time to help the client reach goals. However, the client could delay the process by continuously rejecting your ideas, recommendations, and deliverables.
Yes, disagreement is common between a client and a company. However, there should be a mutual agreement that both parties will work it out and align on the overarching goal.
Sometimes the client may not see this and let other factors get in the way.
3. There Is Little Respect Between You And The Client
Respect is the foundation of any business relationship. When there is trust between the client and the company, you can create innovative ideas and achieve great things.
However, the relationship can sour when respect breaks with one of the parties. No respect means no trust, and no trust means it will be challenging to attain your goals.
If the client does not respect you, they will not trust your work. Therefore, it could be the right time to move on.
Always show respect, but you should reevaluate the relationship if the client does not return the favor.
4. There Is Minimal Communication Between You And The Client
When you and the client begin your relationship, you should agree on a primary communication channel. Will you communicate with the client best via phone, text, email, or online messaging?
You should also set parameters on an acceptable timeframe to respond to a message. Emergencies might arise, but both parties should agree on a good time window.
If either party cannot follow through with their commitment to communication, there should be a check-in discussion. If things still do not improve, it is time for both parties to go their separate ways.
5. The Relationship Is Not Progressing
A solid business relationship will continue to strengthen as both parties learn more about each other. If there is a culture or value fit, the relationship should blossom. Trust should build between the parties, and better ideas should flow.
If you engage with the client for several months and do not see an improvement in communication, it might be time to move in a different direction.
As the relationship endures, try to identify the best communication channels for you and the client.
Determine how and when they communicate the best and tailor your messages toward that channel. If you still do not see better workflows, you should speak with the client.
6. The Client Has A Pessimistic Attitude
You become what you think about. If the client constantly projects a negative vibe toward your working relationship, it will be challenging to achieve your goals. Your client relationships reflect your brand.
Yes, it is standard to become stressed, but these pressures should never impact your relationships negatively.
You can do your part to spread positivity. However, if the client shoots down your words of encouragement, it can demoralize your work. You may not feel motivated to produce your best quality work for the client.
7. You Are Losing Money On The Client
Although you run a “relationship business,” it comes to dollars and cents. If the time spent with the client does not produce profitable results, it might be time to go your separate ways.
Whether it is wasted time or minimal profit results, evaluate why you are losing money.
Approach the client about ways to improve the relationship and achieve these goals. If you continue to see no results, it is time to terminate the relationship.
8. The Client Is Verbally Abusive Or Makes Demands You Cannot Meet
If a client is verbally abusive, calls you names, or degrades you in any way, it’s time to let them go. It would be best if you did this sooner rather than later to avoid setting a precedent. There is no reason for you to tolerate abuse in any form.
Similarly, if a client makes unreasonable demands that you cannot meet or gaslights you for being unable to accommodate them, it’s time to move on.
There are some people you will never be able to make happy, and the sooner you end that relationship, the better off everyone will be.
How To Amend The Relationship
Now that we listed red flags to look for in bad clients, here are some strategies to fix, improve, or amend a relationship.
Evaluate Your Perspective
You might step back, take a deep breath, and realize that it is not all the client’s fault. When your stress is high while running a business, it can impact your view of your actions and emotions.
Self-reflection never hurts, so take a minute to reflect on your relationship with the client.
Assess if there is anything you can do on your end. Then, map out a conversation you can have with the client to amend the situation.
Explore Other Communication Methods
If things are not working out with the client, a different communication channel or style might make a difference.
Would it be beneficial to establish a weekly or bi-weekly check-in meeting? Should you communicate via text instead of email?
Exploring other ways to engage with the client might make your information transfer clearer and more efficient.
Start A Fresh Agreement
If your contract with the client is ending and they are considering renewing, you could consider drawing up a new agreement. Start fresh and set new boundaries with the client to establish an efficient working relationship.
Maybe a different game plan could unlock new opportunities and ideas within the scope of your relationship.
How To End The Relationship With The Client
If you have tried to fix the relationship and nothing works, here is how to professionally terminate the relationship with the client.
Step 1: Evaluate The Contract
Before you terminate the relationship with the client, check to ensure you can legally fire them.
However, it is better to discontinue a relationship at the end of a contract instead of cutting ties in the middle of it.
Step 2: Wrap Up The Current Projects You Owe The Client
Another way to show professionalism is to round out all your pending projects with the client.
Confirm which deliverables the client still needs and which ones they want you to finish. Continue to work efficiently with the client on completing these projects.
Do not let your ending relationship impact the quality of your work. Although your relationship is ending, you do not want the client to talk badly about your business to others.
Step 3: Plan Out Your Conversation
When you approach the client, spell out why the relationship ends. Cite the verbiage in the contract that governs your decision, and proceed professionally.
Here are some other tips when planning out the conversation:
- Write out your talking points.
- Practice the conversation.
- Visualize the conversation.
- Be tactful, but direct with the client.
- Have a clear and thoughtful reason for ending the relationship.
Step 4: Tell The Client
There are a couple of ways to break the news to the client. You can email them professionally and spell out the reasons for the termination.
Or you could set up a meeting with the client to tell them over the phone. Either way, stick with your plan and show the client the respect they deserve.
Step 5: Do Not Leave The Client Hanging
It is bad business to leave the client in the dark after terminating the relationship.
Outline a clear exit or transition plan, identify the pending projects to complete, and carry out your commitment.
Final Wrap Up
Because you operate a business, you call the shots. This decision-making applies to the clients you work with. If one of the parties does not hold up their end of the deal, it is time to evaluate other options.
Always show the client respect and fulfill your end of the deal. You should also seek to understand the client before communicating with them. Apply these principles when dealing with a problematic client and continue producing meaningful work.
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