While most clients are faithful, disciplined and easy to work with, some can be complicated and stressful. Aside from the obvious financial advantages, having a good client relationship can help you improve your portfolio and attract other clients. However, a bad client can frustrate you, halt the progress of your business and can hinder your chances of acquiring other clients. At this point, as sad as it may be, letting a difficult client go is your only viable option.

Steps to firing a client

Before ending a relationship with a client, identify the pros and cons of your decision. Justify why letting the client go is the only option left. If by firing the client you will have less stress, give room for more and better clients, improve your profits and enable a better working relationship with your other existing clients, proceed with your decision with your head held high.

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Review your contract

Firing your client in the middle of a project or when there's a lot of time left on your contract could be a terrible idea. The client might sue your company, and you may end up losing more resources than you wanted to save. However, if there is little time left or the contract has expired, you can choose not to renew the contract and let the client leave.

In some cases, you might have a clause in your contract or engagement letter that allows for mutual termination of your services. If you have this, consider inviting your client for a face-to-face meeting, explain why you have chosen to activate the clause and wish the client well.

Professionalism is key

Especially in cases where the client is hostile, resist the temptation to talk back or react with the same anger. As the adage goes, "two wrongs don't make a right." Always maintain professionalism regardless of whether your client is professional or not. Invite them for a chat, explain the situation, do not play blame games or do anything that will insight further conflict.

By handling the firing professionally, you maintain the reputation of your business. The perception of the services that you offer remains positive in the general public's eyes, even if letting go of your client was messy on their end.

Figure out the 'when and where'

When and where you fire a client depends on the nature of your business and why you are letting them go. The best option is to inform your client of your decision over a face-to-face meeting. For instance, if you provide services that require appointments, holding a conversation with the client after a meeting in privacy is a good idea.

It is important to deliver your services first and then inform your client why you think it's time to part ways. In situations where physical meetings are not possible, consider calling them or using a communication channel that they use most. The goal is to deliver your message effectively.

Let the problem take care of itself

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If you want to fire a client because of the numbers, increasing your fees or additional charges can do the trick. However, this strategy is a bit of a gamble because the client might agree with the new terms. Only use it when you are confident that it will work.

How to prevent signing a bad client

To avoid similar cases in the future, consider doing the following:

  • Improve your qualification and onboarding process
  • Have a priority client list
  • Have reliable lead-gen sources
  • Change the structure of your pricing

Key takeaways

Firing a client is a tricky affair. It requires diligence, professionalism and patience. Before reaching that ultimate decision:

  1. Look at the pros and cons of letting the client go.
  2. Once the decision is made, complete any pending projects to make a clean getaway after the firing takes place.
  3. Have alternative options for the client, maintain professionalism and use proper communication channels to relay your message.