Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Firing a client

Firing a client is never easy, but every business owner will be faced with this decision. Clients come in all shapes, colors and sizes; some are difficult, some are an absolute joy to work with and the rest fall somewhere in between.

What makes a client difficult? There are many things that make a client harder to work with including: being unprofessional and uncooperative, being rude, failing to pay bills on time, being unresponsive, being indecisive, and well, the list goes on. A difficult client can put a real strain on your resources, significantly impacting other clients. A savvy business owner understands when a client is hurting the business as opposed to helping it.

Before you fire a client, consider whether opening up the lines of communication might not resolve your issue. If you have a client who is constantly rude, figure out if there isn't another point person that can be assigned to deal with your company. Other times, just going over the procedures in place and making sure everything is being followed can help solve other issues. My recommendation is that if you plan to fire a client, you first give them the opportunity to continue your working relationship. Never make a hasty one-sided decision, it's best to give them the opportunity to continue to work with your company.

Now if you have already tried to save the relationship and there doesn't seem to be a way to continue to service your client, make sure you follow the following steps:

Begin by reading your contract- It is possible that the contract you initially signed offers some insight on discontinuing the relationship. The contract will outline each party's obligations when it comes time to move on. In many cases, you will have to provide your client with advance notice, anywhere between 30 days to 90 days. Make sure you understand what you still owe your client and what compensation they owe you; you don't want to leave any loose ends as you move to end the relationship.

Schedule a meeting- The best way to speak to your client is in person. Much like breaking it off with your boyfriend or girlfriend, in-person is always the right choice. Schedule a meeting to discuss pending work, as you will have to complete anything that you are currently working on for them.

Prepare a list of recommendations- As a courtesy gesture, provide your client with a company that can service him from now on. Perhaps you know someone who might be a better fit in personality. Just because the client was not a good fit for your company, doesn't mean that won't be a good fit for someone else. Of course if there are serious reasons why you can't continue your relationship, then it is best not to provide a recommendation. If the clients don't pay, it would be in poor taste to pass them along to someone else.

Know your reasons- During your meeting you must make clear the reasons for breaking off the relationship. It is okay to give your clients the honest reasons why you can't continue to service them. This could be very helpful to them as they engage in a new relationship. They might have to reevaluate the way in which they do business, and even make adjustments to their processes. However, if you feel that your client might make a scene, it could be worth it to provide a general excuse and not pin-point his shortcomings. The decision on how to handle the meeting will come from your experience working with the client. Again, while it is best to be direct, it might not be feasible or worthwhile with certain clients. Once you have ended the relationship peacefully, you can bring up the referrals you previously compiled.

When firing a client, is it critical that you are as gracious and professional as possible. Regardless of why the client must be fired, it is essential to act professionally and follow the outlined protocol. Clients might feel indispensable, but they have to be a smart decision for your company. Ultimately, as a business owner you have to keep the best interest of your company at heart, and sometimes that means giving up a client.


Raghunandan JAGDISH
CEO & Director
Nandan GSE Pvt Ltd 
>>> +91-9322692934 (send me SMS)
Forgive Brevity... composed on my handphone

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