This post first appeared on Flying Solo.
The repercussions of firing a bad client can be scary. To the world outside, it may appear as if your client fired you which is bad for your reputation. And the momentary loss of income will affect your ability to pay employees, cover overheads and put food on your table at home.
The problem with keeping bad clients is they can tear your business apart from the inside out, without you even knowing it. Over time, bad clients have endless negative effects on your work, your business and your personal life.
If you’re considering firing a client but can’t bring yourself to do it, here are 7 solid reasons to go ahead RIGHT NOW.
The client doesn’t communicate.
Client can’t be bothered picking up the phone to speak with you? Never gets back to your emails? Doesn’t write briefs but expects the world of you? Takes 3 months to send feedback?
These ‘closed-book’ clients are impossible to work with and please. You never know what they’re really thinking or what they really want. They put you on the back foot, leaving you unsure if anything you do actually helps their business.
All successful relationships are an open, two-way street. Business relationships are no exception. If your client doesn’t openly communicate and tell you what they need, fire them. Don’t burn your energy, time and resources to work out the things that a good client would give you from the start.
The client doesn’t respect your time.
If clients are repeatedly late to meetings or just never show up, it means they don’t respect your effort or your time.
Constant lateness and no-shows mess with your business and personal life. They knock out appointments with your other clients. They push out your work schedule. They negate the time you spend to shift heaven and earth to make meetings happen. And they negate the energy you spend preparing for them.
Ultimately, you’re left working after hours to finish tasks you could have completed, if not for the time you wasted on a client who doesn’t care. If your client repeatedly behaves this way, let them go.
Don’t let them waste anymore of your time.
The client doesn’t listen.
It’s healthy to get into debates with your client, especially if you’re both passionate about what you’re doing. Sometimes your client will agree with you, sometimes they won’t. But if your client overrides every single suggestion, offering, idea or bit of advice you give them, it’s time to fire.
Your client may be the one who knows their business and brand best. But there’s a reason they hired you to help them in the first place — you’re the expert at what you do.
If they override all of your advice, it means they don’t care for the value you bring to their business, anymore. And when things inevitably go wrong because they ignored you, they’ll be looking for someone to lay blame on.
Don’t be their scapegoat!
The client complains about your pricing. All. The. Time.
It’s natural for a client to question the cost of anything and everything. After all, they’re in business and they have a bottom line to take care of.
The problem is when they complain about pricing non-stop. Each and every time you put a quote together. Each time you complete a project and send an invoice. Each time your service helps them earn more. Each time you kick a goal for their business.
If they’re incessantly attacking your numbers, there’s a high likelihood they’re not acknowledging the value you’re giving them. Wrestling with a client like this is a drain on your energy. They’re not worth keeping around.
Stick to clients who understand, acknowledge and reward the value you add to their business.
The client doesn’t honour your terms and tries to take advantage.
Clients who pay top dollar for top service and/or product will expect a lot from you. They want results and it’s only fair you deliver to their needs.
The challenge is when they push for a bigger bang than what their bucks are paying for. When they try to squeeze out more than what your signed-off terms of work promise. Or when they change their mind mid-project to explode scope beyond reason.
It’s okay to give and flex a little, but if your client expects that you deliver far more than agreed each and every time you work with them, it’s time to let them go.
Clients like this only become inflexible if you push back on their unreasonable demands. If you give in to please them, you’re burning your own time, energy and resources on a client’s appetite that can never be satisfied.
The client seeks quotes from competitors as a strategy to reduce yours.
If a client is seeking out a new supplier, it’s in their interest to get quotes from a selected range. They’re trying to work out who they gel with and more importantly who fits into their budget.
The problem is when they seek out quotes from every man and his dog, on each and every project, as a strategy to reduce their costs. This leads to a race to the bottom on price, with the client the only winner. And it will leave you in a compromised position where you can’t quote what you’re really worth, on anything.
If you have a client who’s always playing this dirty game, remember what you’re bringing to the table and fire them as soon as possible.
The client doesn’t pay you on time.
If you’ve provided top quality service or product to your client, you’re legally entitled to be paid what you’re owed, on time, as per agreed terms.
But there are a variety of reasons your client might not do this, the worst being, they simply don’t have the money in their pockets. If their business hasn’t got any cash flow, yours won’t either.
Remember, you’re a business, you’re not a charity. It’s not your responsibility to be your clients’ financial safety net. Your responsibility is your business, not theirs. If you’ve got a pile of unpaid invoices from a ton of clients, send the debt collectors in to get your money, then eliminate them from your roster.
Don’t wait a minute longer.
Firing a client isn’t an easy decision to make and it’s never easy to do. But if your business is suffering and you’re personally getting dragged through the mud, it’s time to pull the trigger.
You don’t have to put up with bad clients. By firing them, you’ll be opening your business to new relationships and new work opportunities.
I’ve fired a number of bad clients, for some of the reasons listed above. Each time I have, a new, better client has taken the place the bad ones left behind. It’s how I’ve built my SEO copywriting business and it’s what makes me excited to work with all my current clients.
If you want to fire bad clients, don’t wait any longer. Have faith in your business and yourself. Fire them today and see what happens.