In an ideal world, every client you work with will be a joy. You would never have to fire your client. All clients would be communicative, understanding, and respectful of you and your time. They would pay on time, and they would appreciate your work. But, as most entrepreneurs know, this isn’t always the case. While nightmare clients are easy to spot and easy to severe ties with, the borderline ones are tougher.
So, how do you know when it’s time to fire your client?
Can you handle the loss of income?
The first thing you need to ask yourself is, can you handle the loss of income? No matter what size your company is, do not allow yourself to rely on one client for a majority of your income.
As we talked about in a previous blog post, if you rely on one client too much, then you’re allowing that client to dictate the rise and fall of your business. If that client goes away, you’re stuck without a backup plan and without that much-needed revenue.
That’s why most pros tell you that a client should not account for more than 20% to 25% of your business.
If you can’t handle the loss of income, you need to grow your business until you can.
How do I know I need to fire your client?
If you can afford the loss of income, then keep reading. The following are signs that it’s time to fire your client.
Fire Your Client Who is a Drain on Resources
Time is money.
If there’s a client that only accounts for 5% of your income, but takes up 50% of your time or your team’s time, then it’s time for that client to go.
Your time would be better spent on ten different clients who each pay you the same fee that the one client paid.
They Do Not Respect Your Time
Along the same lines, if a client fails to respect your time, you need to sever ties.
A client who calls you after dinner or early in the morning and expects you to be available doesn’t respect you.
If that client emails you at 11 p.m. and then gets upset when there’s not a response first thing in the morning, they’re a bad client.
Do not allow a client to dictate what hours you work and which ones you don’t. Boundaries must be set and respected.
Fire Your Client Who Does Not Respect You
Not respecting your time is one thing; not respecting you as a person is another. It is not okay for a client to be verbally abusive.
If you find yourself in a situation where a client is verbally abusive. Fire that client immediately. Putting up with a client like that can drag you down emotionally, and that can affect your work with other, more likable clients.
Fire Your Client If Asked To Do Something Outside of Your Ethics
Different business owners have different thresholds. Some like operating by the book; others don’t mind a little gray area.
No matter what type of business owner you are, never sacrifice your ethics for a client.
If a client asks you to do something unethical or, even worse, illegal, it’s a sure sign it’s time to fire that client.
Fire Your Client If They Are Unrealistic
On the outside, an unrealistic client is someone that every business owner has to deal with sooner or later. However, if the client is unrealistic and unyielding, you’ve got a problem.
Unrealistic clients who are unwilling to listen to you, the expert, will not be good clients. Ultimately, no matter what product you deliver will not meet their standards.
Working with an unrealistic client will only lead to failure and, most likely, an angry client.
Cut ties before things go wrong.
If The Client Does Not Pay or Pay on Time
Repeat business is great, but only if the client pays.
Never work with a client that hasn’t paid their last bill. You’re just doing work for free.
It may also be time to think about firing clients that don’t pay you on time. 30 days past due might be something you can deal with, but what about 60 days or 90 days?
You need to decide if getting paid three months after the final product is delivered is okay for you and your company.
If The Client is Looking for a Deal
Everyone loves a good bargain, but you shouldn’t sell your work at bargain-basement prices. If you find yourself working for a client that always wants the lowest price or is always looking for a way to cut corners, it’s probably time to cut ties.
Know your worth and demand it. Good clients who also know your worth are willing to pay what you charge.
Those Clients That Can’t Decide
An indecisive client can bring work to a standstill. If you have a client that simply can’t make decisions and it happens frequently, it might be time to fire that client.
Every decision that’s not made is wasted time. You’re the one working on a deadline, but that work can’t happen if the client can’t make a decision.
Fire Your Client If They Do Not Communicate
No project can get done if only one side is communicating. Sometimes a client will make the initial connection and then just stop responding for days or weeks at a time. These clients can be challenging to work with, especially if they expect you to meet your deadlines.
If you find yourself stuck with an unresponsive client and it’s adding more stress to your business life, it might be time to fire your client.
Or if You Simply Don’t Like the Client
Until now, these suggestions are all about what the client does; however, what about how you feel?
Maybe your personality doesn’t mesh with the clients’. Perhaps you’re stressed out every time you get off the phone with the client. Maybe you spend way too much time talking about the client’s personal problems rather than work.
Whatever the case, if you feel like a client is destroying your quality of life, then it’s probably time to fire them.
Remember to Communicate
In any of these instances, firing should be a last resort. Sometimes clients just don’t know they’re difficult. It’s okay to have an open and honest conversation with a client as long as you are polite and respectful throughout.
Most people are reasonable, and a conversation may be all it takes to correct the behavior.
However, if that doesn’t work, the best course of action for you and your team may be to fire the client before things get out of hand.
While it may be a difficult scenario to deal with in the moment, ultimately, you’re going to be happier if you talk to demanding clients and fire the ones that refuse to change.
Written by Erika Towne