Business Tips: How to Tell it’s Time to Fire a Client


Several amazing materials have been written about how to nurture a customer or client relationship. However, no amount of jollying someone along or bending over backwards or sucking it up is to going to change the basic fact that some clients just aren’t worth nurturing. In fact, nurturing them is exactly the wrong thing to do. When a client’s habit or demands goes beyond the point of being occasionally irritating to interfering with your potential for business growth, it’s time to cut them loose.

It would be counter-productive to invest your energy and time in maintaining a relationship with a client who is bad for your bottom line.

You know it’s time to fire a client when he or she:

Gets Abusive

He throws tantrums, throws things, calls you names, stomps around shouting or otherwise acts in a physically threatening manner. Such abuse might also consist of continually belittling you or making disparaging remarks about your gender, race or appearance.

If they did it once, were told that it bothered you and then do it again, it’s time to part ways – even if the comments were reportedly made to someone else. Like the abusive spouse, it doesn’t matter if he says he’s sorry. What matters is it happens.

Makes Unreasonable Demands

Every business owner sets their own personal bar for what’s unreasonable and what’s not. However, some things are generally considered unreasonable.

For instance, if you want to call a business consultant to discuss your latest business idea at three in the morning, that is unreasonable. But if you called a criminal lawyer at 3 a.m. because you were detained behind the counter at a police station, it wouldn’t be unreasonable at all. As a founder or business owner, decide what you will and won’t do in your client relationships and stick to it.

The Client is Consistently Slow to Pay

Clients that don’t pay on time are more than just annoying; they interfere with your business’s cash flow. You simply can’t afford them. Always let such clients know that you’re not fine with it, get them to understand that you have a policy regarding payment.

If it continues, then you really need to stop doing business with them.

Constantly disputes your invoices

The client who is agreeable up front and then tries to “cheap out” and cut down the cost of the project is particularly aggravating. One such experience with such an individual is enough.

Stay stern, go after them for the money and then cut them loose.

Doesn’t Follow your Advice – But Expects you to Pick Up the Pieces When Things Go Wrong

This is the classic “so-why-did-you-choose-to-patronize-my-business?” hair-pulling client experience.  The professional way to handle it is to help solve the client’s problems, if possible. And then be smart enough not to repeat the experience by moving on.

They chose to come to you because you’re an expert at what you do. If you know their suggestion would not end well, it’s important to always stand your ground.

Plays you Off Against the Competition

It hurts when a clients constantly compares you with a competitor. You should never let that happen by cutting off such client. If they need your competitor’s service, they should know where and how to get it.

People getting quotes for work they want done is an excellent practice. But trying to use competitors’ prices or timelines to renege on or get a lower fee on work that’s already been agreed on or is in progress is not.


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