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When You Should Fire Your Client

There comes a time when enough is enough, and your working relationship with a client is no longer effective. When ...

When You Should Fire Your Client

There comes a time when enough is enough, and your working relationship with a client is no longer effective. When is it time to say, “It’s been nice, but…?”

 

There are four red flags to which you should pay close attention:

Problems communicating with the client

  • You have no idea what the client wants and you are wasting billable hours trying to get a scope of work so that you can actually do the work.

  • The client is unavailable.

Problems with client expectations

  • The client doesn’t understand that you have other clients, and thus assumes you are at his or her command.

  • The client paid for one type or level of service, but expects far more for their money.

  • The client changes course on a dime. First they want this, and then they want some other thing.

Problems with your own scheduling

  • You’re too busy with other projects to meet the client’s delivery expectations.

Problems with agreed terms of delivery or payment

  • The client doesn’t pay the agreed amount for hourly or fixed-fee work.

  • The client doesn’t pay on the agreed schedule of payment.

  • The client expects on Tuesday what you agreed to deliver by Friday.

 

Any one of the above problems is a deal-breaker and threatens your ability to get work done, and any one of these problems is suitable ground for firing your client. But, be cautious about HOW you fire the client…

  • Make the phone call or email as pleasant as possible. Since your client is working in your chosen field, it’s important to part with them amicably lest you jeopardize possible work with the client’s associates and peers. And of course, if your client is a kingpin in your industry, you risk being blackballed from the field if you don’t handle the situation with sensitivity.

  • In the last call or email to the client, it is good business practice to point out something positive about your experience working with them. You liked the product or service, or you liked some element of the working relationship. Remember that even if you fire your client, he or she might serve as a reference later on, even if there was a problem working with them directly. Don’t slam the door in their face.

  • If you are under written contract with the client, you may need to consult a lawyer to make sure you can avoid the possibility of a “breach of contract” suit against you.

Work should be a rewarding experience for both you and your client. It is wisest to give time to solving any of the problems listed above before using the problem as justification for terminating the work relationship.

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