When You Have To Fire A Client

Oh no! You have to fire a client. Boo! It’s unfortunately something most entrepreneurs have to do at least once in their journey.

However, it doesn’t have to be a totally miserable experience. In fact, if you emphasize the positive and not take the situation personally, it can teach you a lot about how to run your business even better.

Watch my video strategy and learn tips on how to fire a client with your sanity and integrity intact.


Jill Celeste Video Transcript: When You Have To Fire A Client

Let’s talk today about the unfortunate event when you have to fire a client. It is one of the worst feelings in the world, but as a business owner, know that sometimes this happens, and it’s just part of doing business. There could be a lot of reasons why you have to terminate a relationship with your customer. Maybe they haven’t paid you, maybe they’re not respecting your time, maybe it feels like a bad vibe, maybe they’re not giving you the materials that you need to do your job. Whatever the case may be, you will probably have a very good reason on the rare occasion that you have to fire a client.

What I want you to think about when you’re coming upon this situation is to make the separation as positive as possible. That could be a challenge, especially if there’s something icky going on, but if you focus on the positive it will feel better for you at the end.

When you have to fire a client

When you have a contract

How do you fire a client? First of all, do you have a contract? That’s always the first consideration. If you have a contract with your client, the first thing I want to challenge you to do is to see how much longer is on that contract. If it’s just another 30, 60 days, then maybe it’s just better to stick it out, and then just tell that client that you won’t be renewing that contract at the end. That is actually one of the easier approaches. I know it’s never great for your mindset to work with someone who’s not the best customer for you, but it is an easier way to sever that relationship when the contract ends, so that’s something to consider.

If you are in a contract and it’s nowhere near the end, look at the terms that you have in your contract for terminating that contract. Most contracts have some type of clause in there, such as a 60 days’ notice. Whatever it states in your contract, make sure you are abiding by that when you notify your customer.

When you don’t have a contract

If you don’t have a contract, what I recommend is some type of exit strategy, and that could look like determining how many days’ notice you want to give your client. Depending on your industry, that could look like 30 days’ notice, 60 days’ notice, whatever the case may be. You want to give them as much notice as you possibly can. That will make the transition much smoother for them. Also make sure that you are finalizing the payment arrangements. Do they owe you more money? Is there another payment due? Make sure you spell out when that is going to come due and when they need to pay it. Or, on the flip side, maybe you owe them a refund, so make sure you make plans for how you’re going to refund them.

The last thing is, I recommend your firming up those deliverables. Depending on your industry, maybe you have things you have to deliver to your client before the end of the contract or before the end of the termination of the contract. Some things you’re just going to do because it’s the right thing to do. When I always had agency clients, when I owned my marketing agency, when a client was off-boarded, whether I fired them or they just went through the end of the contract, I always delivered to them a spreadsheet with all their passwords to the social media accounts system, because sometimes they forgot, and included whatever best practices I had picked up along the way. I gave them a document that they can just take and read it, and it puts them up to speed as to where they are with the account they had with me. If that’s appropriate for your industry, I do recommend some kind of final deliverable or some kind of final document to get them on their way.

You want to make sure that you get all that in writing, because, again, you don’t have the contract to protect you. Make sure you specify in writing when the contract is going to be terminated, the payment, the deliverables. Put that in writing, and if you can get your client to sign it, even better. That’s another final tip.

It’s not personal

Also remember, don’t take this personally. Try to keep it very upbeat, as I said. Keep it very positive. This happens in business, for whatever reason. Don’t take it personally; it doesn’t mean you’re a failure as an entrepreneur. It just means that you didn’t align with the right person to do business with. Let me tell you, there are a gazillion people out there who face the same thing. You’re perfectly normal for having to do this.

Another thing I recommend, one of the things I always try to do is, I try to keep it classy, not always, but I do try. I like to always send a thank you note or a gift, especially if I’m terminating a contract. I always like to send something through the snail mail to my client to thank them for allowing me to help them through the time that I did. Think about some type of gesture you can do, even if it’s a thank you note. It goes a long way to keep that relationship going. You don’t want to burn any bridges with any client, so think about that as well.

Learn from this experience

Finally, when all of it’s said and done and your client is off on her way, sit back and take some time to evaluate the relationship, because what often you’ll find are opportunities for improvements with your business. Maybe, after working with this client, you’ll learn that you need to add something new to your contract, or to your guidelines, or to your agreements. Maybe there’s a process you need to put in place to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Take some time to evaluate your relationship with this particular client and then use that to improve your business, so that you’re making sure you’re attracting the right people in the future. We don’t like to fire clients, but when we do, hopefully these tips will help you. If you need additional marketing assistance, head on over to my website at Jillceleste.com. Until next time, here’s to your marketing success, and have a great day.

Photo courtesy of Kai Schreiber

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