Firing a Client

Those of us who provide a service for a fee must continually generate new business to replace the work that goes away, for whatever reason.

That’s why it’s hard to tell a client that you don’t want to work for her or him anymore. When earning money to pay your bills is your motivation, it is difficult to say, “I don’t want your money.”

Sometimes the reason you don’t want her money is because she is so stingy with it—always delaying payment and/or frequently questioning amounts charged. If you know that you are providing good value for your client, it’s actually a bit insulting when the client tries to “nickel and dime” you.

Another reason is frustration. Your client pays for your guidance and expertise.  Then, he fails to follow through on your suggestions. You design a plan of action that you are confident will generate good results. But the client only goes with part of the plan and expresses disappointment when results are not what were anticipated.

Sometimes you become aware that a client is doing something that is borderline unethical, although not technically illegal. If the activity makes you feel sleazy or even just a bit uncomfortable, it’s time to step away. Everybody needs to make a buck, but you also need to be able to sleep at night.

Maybe the worst situation is when you do your best, but fail to achieve the desired result. The client likes you and your work and is not particularly impatient, but you feel deep dissatisfaction because what you were hired to make happen… has not even begun to happen. Rather than continue a futile effort, you decide to resign the account.

Remember, when you chose to end the relationship, be just as polite as you would want the client to be to you. In some cases, you may want to leave the door open for an isolated project or two somewhere down the line. And, if you burn bridges, the spurned client may say things about you that you wouldn’t appreciate.

I hope that you and I will be in good enough financial shape that we will be able to dismiss problem clients, if it becomes necessary. Until then, let’s work hard to keep our wonderful clients that we love happy and successful!


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