Most of the time, having clients is a good thing for a business, but when things get to the point where a client is more trouble than he’s worth, it may be time to cut him loose.
Every business has had at least one client that was just not worth keeping. These are clients that don’t just require a little help; they are demanding far more than you are willing to give. Unfortunately, if you’re not careful, they can end up taking time away from other clients and pay less in the process. It’s important to know the signs of a bad client and know when to get rid of them.
Signs That Your Client Should Be Fired
No one wants to turn down work, so it can be difficult to know just when to cut someone loose. After all, they’re paying you to do a job, so it seems wrong to tell them you don’t want their money any more. However, for sanity’s sake and the sake of your business, it is sometimes necessary to get rid of bad clients.
Sign #1: They don’t know what they want
Some clients are indecisive, while others will simply change their minds continuously for months. This is particularly common when working for a business where two or three people come up with conflicting ideas for you to work on.
Sign #2: They don’t meet deadlines
When you need information from a client in order to move on and they keep stalling, it can throw off the entire schedule, not only for that client, but for your other projects. Once may be a minor issue, but if the client keeps doing it, it’s time to show him the door.
Sign #3: They think you should always be available
Getting emails at 3 am insisting you respond immediately is a pain in the neck. Getting a phone call at the same time with a problem from a client gets old the first time it happens. Some clients just don’t respect your hours, particularly if you are a freelancer and they feel that you should be available to them at any time of day or night. This is a client you do not want to keep around if they refuse to respect your boundaries.
Sign #4: They don’t listen and then blame you.
You’re the expert, which is why the client is coming to you. However, in some situations, the client may feel that he or she knows better than you and try to tell you how to do your job. When you do things their way, against all logical advice, they blame you for the lousy results. Yet another sign that this client has to go.
Sign #5: They always want more than they paid for.
This type of client can be sneaky because they start out with a legit request, then keep adding to it, using small requests to get more and more from you without paying anything extra. This can go on for a long time, making you feel very resentful toward this client.
Sign #6: They don’t pay on time.
A client that is always late in paying or who pays only when she gets paid is not a good one to keep around. If you can’t arrange for on time payment, you’ll need to fire them.
How to Fire a Client
Knowing that you need to get rid of a client is one thing, but actually doing it is another. There are a few ways to go about firing a client you don’t want to work with anymore.
Raise your rates.
This is a great method to go with because if the person does agree to your new prices, it will actually be worth it, but in most cases, you want to raise your rates enough that they will balk and go find another sucker to work with. Many difficult clients are interested in getting the lowest prices possible and will continuously whittle you down, so jumping the price up should work to get rid of them.
Tell them you’re busy.
If you have a client that you just can’t handle anymore, you can tell them you’re just too busy to take on their next project. This works in all cases because you will simply block them out. If they ask how far ahead you’re booked, make it a few months in case they attempt to book later.
Start billing for everything.
When it comes to clients that just keep adding little tasks to the main one, you can end up doing a lot of extra work and not getting paid for it. Let the client know what your new limits are and then stick to them . . . bill her for every extra task. It shouldn’t be long before she either leaves or stops adding the extras.
Sometimes enough is enough. When your blood pressure rises just thinking about a specific client, it’s probably best to walk away from them. This can be harder than it sounds, particularly if you have a very persistent person that you’re working with, but in the end it’s worth it. You will free up more time to work on other projects that pay better and you’ll be free of a lot of stress, which can also drag you down if you aren’t careful.