The Power of Goodbye – Tips On When And How To Terminate A Client
Anyone in business has probably encountered the impossible client. You know the one I am talking about – that one client that is ultra-demanding, time consuming, indecisive, and arrogant……. The client that won’t listen to your advice and is then not satisfied with their results.
At some point, no matter how much money this client pays you, you’ll decide that it just isn’t worth it. It’s not worth the drain on your time or your sanity. When you get to that point it’s time to treat this as you would any other type of relationship where you aren’t treated with respect; it’s time to set yourself free by saying goodbye.
If you’ve reached that point with a client, then the following tips can help you to better manage your breakup.
Before you break up
Take a deep breath, and before you say anything, read your contract. Make certain that you aren’t contractually obligated to continue working for the client before you advise them that your working arrangement is over. If you find that you do have a contractual obligation, discover what the steps are to meet the obligation and then wrap it up. You certainly don’t want to sign a new contract or verbally agree to any additional assignments during this process.
Once you know what your contractual obligations are, and have taken steps to wrap up your work and fulfil your contract, take a moment and write some notes down as to why you will not be taking on additional work from this client. Writing it down will help you to organise your thoughts and may even release some of the tension and stress that you have felt during the relationship.
If terminating your relationship will put your client in a bad position, line up a list of alternative suppliers and businesses that can provide similar products and services. This can help to dispel any hard feelings that your client may have when you notify them that you are ending the relationship.
Making the break
Advise the client that you need to meet to discuss your working relationship. While it’s tempting to send an email or text message or even a form letter to avoid a confrontation, it’s more professional to meet in person where possible or over the telephone if necessary, to discuss the matter.
When you meet, regardless of how bad this client made you feel, take the upper road and start out your conversation by thanking your client for the work that they have given you over the course of your working relationship and then apologise that unfortunately the relationship must come to an end. This is not the time for recriminations or personal attacks.
Calmly give your reasons for ending the relationship, and try to explain in professional terms. Listen to the feedback that the client provides. Acknowledge their feelings and apologise again that the relationship must end. Advise that you’ve prepared a list of potential replacements for your services and let them know that you will be happy to speak with your replacement if necessary to bring them up to speed. Thank them again and no matter how much this client, kicks, screams, begs, yells or cries, remain calmly resolved that the relationship must end. Conclude the meeting.
Completing the break
Follow up by sending a letter to the client after this meeting that briefly restates your thanks for their past business and confirms that the relationship has ended. Include the list of other suppliers that the client may wish to consider and any remaining unpaid bills or balances and terms of repayment as well.
As with any other personal or professional relationship, breaking up with a client can be hard to do, but sometimes it is necessary. Following these tips can make the process easier and more professional for both parties.