No one wants to fire a client, but sometimes these things happen. We, unfortunately, encountered a situation with The Marketing Greenhouse that left us no other choice than to part ways with our client. While I can’t share much detail, I can share that words were expressed that are very much against our beliefs, and Jessie and I made the very difficult decision to release the client.
2020 isn’t a year where you want to turn away business; however, when a client differs on your core beliefs you have a choice to make between morals and dollars. It was the toughest situation I have been apart of yet in business, and I instantly thought – I need to share this. It’s important to me to fuel my fellow businesswomen readers with the content they need to succeed. Thank goodness we had a good contract in place! If you don’t have a contract, I highly recommend getting one from The Contract Shop.
1. Review your contract
Most importantly, review your contract to see if you are able to fire a client and if so, how you are able to fire a client. The Contract Shop really helped us seamlessly streamline our language. If you haven’t heard of them before The Contract Shop offers simple agreements that you can customize yourself for common female entrepreneurial industries like photography, event planning, consulting, etc. They have a full suite of contracts you can order here.
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Based on our contract, I knew that we were able to release a client with immediate notice and a refund for uncompleted work, so that got the ball rolling.
2. Stick to the facts & think about your approach
Situations can get emotional quickly. I highly recommend jotting down the facts about what happened, why you need to sever ties, and how you plan to make it right. If you think the client can rebuttal (which most likely they can), I would also think through how they can rebuttal and how you will respond — rationally.
3. Have a professional conversation
Aside from knowing your contract, having a professional conversation might be the most important step when you have to fire a client. As always, be human-first. People have feelings and we need to respect them. Clearly and articulately explain your point, stick to the facts, and be respectful. Do your best to explain the situation in just a few sentences. If you’re nervous that you’ll be wordy, write out your response and practice it. Better safe than word vomit, right?
4. Leave your client in a good place
No matter what happens with a client, you’re still running a business and reputation is everything. I always over-deliver for clients. Even when we had to fire a client, I was sure to overdeliver based on what was in the contract. One way that’s great to overdeliver is offering your time free of charge to answer any questions, onboard a new business partner, or complete any other task that leaves your client in a good place.
If your situation is anything like mine, you’ll find that a client understands the differences and appreciative of your time. At the end of the day, we’re all adults.
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5. Recap everything in writing
Recapping everything in writing is crucial to avoiding headaches down the road. It gives the client a chance to correct anything you might have misheard. It’s also a “CYA” as we used to call it… Cover your… I always recommend recapping work in general so you know where you left off, but it’s imperative when severing a relationship.
It’s never fun to fire a client, but if you have to, follow these 5 steps and just keep swimming.
Affectionately known to her friends as Millennial Martha for her love of DIY and decorating, Jen can’t help but pour her heart + soul into everything she touches. She’s loved to entertain since acquiring a table and chairs, and giving gifts is one of her favorite hobbies. Jen is the creator of Girl Meets Party. Her dream is to share her passions with the world in hopes to inspire others by making the seemingly unattainable attainable.