How to Know When it is Time to Fire a Client

By Randall Orser | Small Business

After working hard to acquire and nurture a client, it can be difficult to make the decision to fire that client.  However sometimes they are not worth the time and effort that you put into maintaining the business relationship. Also, keeping them can be both bad for your bottom line and also for your mental health.  

Here are some situations where you should fire a client:

  1. When the Client Become Abusive - This can take the form of threats, making disparaging remarks either to you or to others behind your back, or by being excessively rude or demanding to you or your employees.  No client is worth that amount of stress and hassle.
  2.  When the Client is Dishonest - When the level of trust between you and your client becomes eroded.  Occasional misunderstandings are normal but when clearly written or spoken understandings are continually “misinterpreted” by them it is time to let them go.
  3. When the Client Makes Unreasonable Demands - You will set the bar for expected client behavior, what is reasonable and what is unreasonable, in particular your business hours.  If they are continually trying to reach you outside of your work hours, then it could be time to say goodbye.  This also applies to clients who are unable to make decisions regarding the work you are doing for them but they still expecting it to be completed on time.
  4. When the Client is Consistently Slow to Pay Their Bills - Customers who do not pay on time are both annoying and may cause damage to your company cash flow.  Following up on unpaid invoices takes up time and costs money.  You cannot afford them so don’t keep them! 
  5. When the Client Continually Disputes or Nitpicks at Your Invoices - Clients who accept your price upfront, then when the time comes to settle your invoice argues with you in an attempt to get a reduction, are not worth keeping.  Once is enough so don’t waste and effort dealing with them again.
  6. When the Client Keeps Changing his Mind  - This can be annoying but as long as they know that changes you have to make will be added to their bill then you can deal with it.  If they expect you to make changes at no extra cost to them, then it is up to you to decide where to draw the line.
  7. When the Client Doesn’t Follow Your Advice and then Expects you to Pick up the Pieces This is a common experience in client relationships and the most professional way to handle it is to try and solve the client’s problem then not repeat the experienced by parting ways with them.
  8. When the Client Plays you off Against the Competition - It is good business practice for customers to get a number of quotes for work that they want done. It is not good business practice for them to use competitor prices or timelines to renege on or get a lower price on work that has already been agreed upon whether or not it has been done.  
  9. When Continuing to Work with the Client Could get you into Legal Difficulties - If there is the possibility of legal liability, then getting rid of this client is a no-brainer.

If you are suffering through bad client relationships, then it’s time to realise that you are wasting time on this client that could be better spent seeking out new and possibly more profitable customers.  Get rid of them!

From an article by Susan Ward

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About the Author

President/CEO Number Crunchers® Accounting Inc. Learn how to just say stuff it to this bookkeeping thing with our 'Just Say: "Stuff It" To Bookkeeping program.