Let’s face it; some clients are simply not worth the trouble and stress they bring into the business relationship. Perhaps your bad client consumes significantly more of your time and resources than others, or they are that dreadful type that just never seems to be satisfied with your services, demanding change after change after change.
Ending your relationship with any client is a difficult decision to come to, but there are ways to bow out that are not awkward, chaotic, or damaging. Here are five tips to consider when setting a bad client free that can help you get out with grace.
1) Talk it out – A business relationship is like any other, and communication plays an important role in maintaining productivity. A frank yet civil discussion with the bad client about your relationship may clear up some misunderstandings or yield solutions that were once unclear. Be firm that you are ending the relationship, but don’t dump insults on the client. “We’re not right for each other” works just as well as anything else.
2) Don’t hide – Treat the bad client with the same dignity you would want if you were in their position. By delivering the news in a face to face situation, they will ultimately have more respect for you and your business than if you had played the role of a high school boyfriend and dumped them through a cowardly email or phone call. (Exceptions are allowed for clients you’ve never actually met in person.)
3) Maintain civility – Avoid bringing negative emotions and feelings about the bad client into the discussion. It’s easy to get caught up in a tense moment, but the future of any business is rarely certain. You never know when you may need to call on an old client for a favor, or when that client may suddenly become appealing again.
4) Offer alternatives – If you know of another business that would be able to handle the needs of your client and save you from pulling your hair out, take the appropriate steps to introduce the two parties. Be honest with the other business about your reasons for sending work their way, though. Creating enemies can produce more problems for your business down the road.
5) Finish your work – Never abandon a client with business left unfinished. By walking out on someone without completing your agreed-upon work, you may develop a reputation of being a quitter. This can have a profound impact on the long-term success of your business as potentially good clients start asking around about your past performance and other clients’ satisfaction. Complete all current assignments before severing the relationship.