Giving Clients the Boot: How to Fire Problem Clients

No one likes a problem client, but no one wants to have to be the one to fire them, either. It’s tough to decide which your business needs more: The money that your problem client is paying you, or the vacancy that will open up for a better client once you’ve fired the problem one.

Let me make this simple for you: your business needs the better client more than the problem client. Clients who make nothing but trouble for you and do little more than give you a headache every time you deal with them need to be shown the door.

But before you put your reputation at risk, let’s take a look at a few ways to gracefully tell your clients that their payments are no longer necessary to the success of your business.

How to Tactfully Fire Problem Clients

The way you let go of each client will depend on what they did to make it into the penalty box. For instance, one who doesn’t ever pay your invoices will be given different reasons for termination than the one who always pays on time but continues to be a pain in the rear.

  • Inform them that your rates are increasing – dramatically. You don’t need to send out an email blast to all of your clients, however. This type of “firing” generally weeds out the clients who came to you because you offered them the cheapest rate, then keep demanding more and more for the same price. These are the clients who should receive this email. Now there’s a caveat with this one. There’s always the off chance that the client you’re trying to get rid of is actually willing to pay the increase. Now what? Do you still need to get rid of them, or are you willing to keep working with them now that their payments equal their demands? Just keep that in mind if you choose this option.
  • Refuse to work on their order until what you have invoiced them is paid. This refers to clients that demanded you submit work prior to payment, but then didn’t pay by the deadline on your last project. This will either force them to pay you soon if they want the project finished, or they will take their order and seek out someone else.
  • Tell the client that their projects or orders no longer fit into your schedule. You may choose to refer them to someone else, or you might not. This type of treatment could go to many clients, especially those who want to call you up at odd hours of the day, send you numerous emails for clarification or revisions, or keep adding on new responsibilities for the same price as the original agreement.

As a fun addition to today’s tip, I thought I would include a video from the USA TV series Monk. If you’re not familiar with the series, Mr. Monk is a private detective with OCD who attends regular therapy sessions for his many phobias. He often takes advantage of his therapist (who allows him to do so, as you’ll see in this video), and this leads to sacrificing more important things in life. This video shows firsthand what a problem client can do to a business.

So now you have a clearer picture of why to fire clients, but may not know where to start. That’s okay, because that’s what the purpose of my coaching club, “Release Your Inner Millionairess,” is. With different levels for different needs, I guarantee that my personal coaching will help you in just about any aspect of your business – especially when it comes to client relations.

To Your Success,

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Published on December 12th, 2012

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