When Should You Turn Down a Client

By Randall Orser | Small Business

You’ve started our business and it can be tempting to take on every client that comes along. After all, without your clients then you won’t have revenue which your business greatly needs to prosper. So, while on paper it makes sent to take one and all clients, regrettably, frequently that client is more trouble than they’re worth. Is this client a good fit with you and your business? Sometimes it’s not and it’s best if you both just move on.

Clients in a Rush

You’ve worked hard on creating the most productive processes during the development phase of your business. You’ve got the right mix of cost, speed, and quality together. You don’t want to mess with that formula, however, that client in a rush will definitely mess that mix up. The rush client is one of those that phones you just before closing on a Friday, and wants a job done by Monday morning. Avoid the rush client that wants you to work entirely with their schedule. You know what you’re capable of and how fast, so if it’s not possible, then don’t do it. In the end you damage your brand by taking on the rush client as you know they’ll never be satisfied.

The Mundane Job

Not all your jobs will be exciting or glamourous. Your clients can project their enthusiasm for the details, or job, onto you and get you excited for the job. However, there are going to be those tasks that just bore you, and you should avoid those as much as you can. Boring jobs just suck the life out of you and your work, which can upset the quality and your enthusiasm for the business in general. If you want to take on that boring job, then either recommend it to a colleague or someone else in your company, so the client doesn’t leave empty handed.

Not Paying Enough

The most difficult thing you’ll do for your business is come up with pricing for your offering. You have to find a price that’s profitable, but at the same time one that fits your target market. This will require a bit of work but totally worth it in the end.

Whenever you get that customer that wants a discount, you need to just turn them down. You should also turn down those clients that want something difficult or special that you don’t usually offer. You’ve come up with your price for a reason, as it’s what you believe your offering is worth. Stick to your guns when it comes to pricing and insist on the posted price. And, for Pete’s sake, avoid those clients that go on about giving you exposure for a discount, or worse, a freebie.

Your Time is Limited

You only have so many hours in a week to do client work. There may be a time where you just can’t take on a client, even when that client is not in a rush. No time is a good problem to have as it means you’ve gotten to capacity. You may be thinking it’s easy to ignore that new client, until you think about the money it could bring. Don’t take on more than you can handle, unless you’re just backed into a corner, you’re better off to err on the side of caution.

Outside Your Niche

Have you been asked to do something that’s outside your niche? It’s great that people think you’re capable of doing great things, however it could backfire. You have the chance to expand your offerings and learn something new. However, you may not do it at all well, which could affect future business. The best time to expand is when you decide to do so, not when a client asks. You need to focus on what you’re great at and what you’ve designed the company to offer.

Just Feels Wrong

Measurable metrics is what your business revolves around. Getting to your final cost for your offering is a composite of manufacturing expenses and the target market’s average income. However, there’s something to be said for your gut feeling If you’re just not sure about the client, or what they’re asking, don’t hesitate to say no. You’re much better off to lose a client than be forced into things you never wanted to do.

The above usually apply to small businesses that have a small number of clients, however, you can apply them to businesses that sell products as well. The important thing is that you value your time, your effort, and your business. Anytime a client asks you to compromise one or more of them, it’s time to move on.


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.