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How to Fire a Client Without Endangering Your Business

Ready, Aim, Fire…Your Client

Yes, you read that right. Every once in a while the customer is just plain wrong and you need to break off the relationship in order to protect your bottom line. At first glance, it might seem crazy to send a client packing, especially if you are struggling to maintain positive cash flow or if you’re thinking about applying for a line of credit, but if a client is wasting your time or your money, then it’s probably time to tell that client to hit the road.

Overbearing or negligent clients can undermine a small-business owner’s sense of purpose, and worse, they can monopolize a business owner’s energy. You know it’s time to let a client go when:

– They constantly complain. About prices. About schedules. About service. Especially if a client is demoralizing your managers or employees, then your business is probably better off without them.

– The client demands too much of your time. They are constantly calling and emailing. Problems fester and you suffer for it.

– The client pays late or skips payments. Once is acceptable. Twice is dicey. Three times is two times too many.

Protecting Your Reputation and Credibility

If you truly care about your reputation, then honesty is always the best policy. Lies are like boomerangs, they always come back around. If the issue with your current client is money, then say it’s money; if it’s a personality conflict, then say so. Of course, you should still be polite, but there is no reason to complicate an already messy situation with a fib.

If all else fails, then suggest that you and your client renegotiate the terms of your agreement. If the client is having trouble paying on time, then ask for COD terms. Whatever the issue is, you can address it head on with new terms. That way, if the client decides not to accept your terms, he is walking away from you, rather than vice versa.

Author:

Marshall Walker Lee graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Michigan's Honors College with degrees in Writing and Philosophy. As a freelance writer and designer he has developed branding strategies and programming for J. Walter Thompson, Nike, the Kellogg Foundation, Spike TV, Sony Films, and General Motors. He is the co-founder and director of Poor Claudia, a 501(c)3 non-profit publishing enterprise based in Portland, Oregon.