Why would you ever want to fire a client? Not all clients are created equal. Some aren’t worth the headache and hassle. One bad client can do quite a bit of damage to your business. Consider this…
A bad client will take your focus, time, and energy away from good clients.
A bad client will hurt your confidence and throw you off your game.
A bad client will bring the energy of your business down.
A bad client is taking a spot from a good client who would greatly benefit from your product/service.
A bad client isn’t getting your best, and even though they suck…they deserve your best.
So, what makes someone a bad client?
The answer greatly depends on your business and the way you have your business structured. You’ll likely have a different definition of a bad client than I do. There are, however, some factors that are consistent across industries:
A client who is rude, sarcastic, and disrespectful.
A client who constantly asks for the rules to be bent for them.
A client who can’t be pleased. (I once saved a client over $10,000 to which he responded with anger because it would require some additional paperwork)
Now, let’s get to the good stuff. How do you fire a client and have them thank you for it?
If you’re unhappy working with someone then they won’t get your best work. It doesn’t matter how good your intentions are, this is just human nature. If they’re not getting your best work, then they likely won’t achieve the result they’re after. This is a lose-lose situation. You’re not helping them reach their goals, and they’re not helping you reach yours.
The easiest, most respectful way to fire a client is to simply contact them (preferably on the phone. Don’t be a chicken) and then explain to them that you’re not the best fit for them moving forward. Keep the focus on their interests. Don’t be rude or insulting to them. No one deserves that regardless of what kind of problem client they are. And then recommend another option for them. Don’t just leave them in the cold.
I like to send the problem clients I fire to my competitors, so that they become their headache. 🙂
Firing a client isn’t easy. I’m never comfortable doing it. Well, that’s not completely true. I’ve fired a few clients that I took great pleasure in letting go. But it’s best to avoid it altogether by attracting the right type of client to your brand from the start!
Make sure your marketing eliminates the wrong kind of prospects. Too many marketers are trying to reach everyone. Don’t fall into this trap. You want a competitive advantage in your market? Then understand this: Good marketing doesn’t just let you know who the product is for; it also lets you know who it’s NOT for.
Create content & a community that fits your personality and style. Likes attract likes. Create content that solves problems for the kind of people you’d love to work with. Build a community of people who have similar beliefs as you. If someone comes into your community or tribe (for those Seth Godin fans out there) and they don’t feel like they belong, they’ll leave on their own. This filters out bad prospects so that the people who are most likely to become a customer and the ones you’re most likely to enjoy working with.
Set guidelines in your business. It’s on you to set correct expectations for your clients. Set your boundaries and understand these are non-negotiable. If you don’t want a client calling you at 10:00 at night, then set that boundary up front.
Build a brand that attracts the right kind of client. Ferrari has built themselves a luxury, high-performance brand. They don’t get tire-kickers and time-wasters coming in for a test drive. They are attracting the right kind of clients. This allows them to greatly avoid any potential problem client. One of the points I make in my book is that If you want better clients, build a better brand. It’s the best way to avoid having to fire a client who is more trouble than they’re worth.
Undoubtedly there will be fear associated with firing a client. Don’t worry about replacing them. The time you free up by letting them go can be spent on acquiring a new client. You’ll find yourself having new energy and increased productivity. Letting go of a client who isn’t the right fit, makes room for better clients.
Photo by TGKW