Don’t let a problem client bring your business down!

There are times in business when problems with others are going to arise. Conflict with others is a natural part of life. Two people may not agree on how something should be done or personalities might clash. Some conflicts are minor and may easily be resolved through understanding, compromise and empathy. However, not every conflict can be so easily solved.

Firing a problem #client is liberating yet takes skill and #tact! #SmallBiz Click To Tweet

There are times when a relationship must be ended for the continued welfare (and sanity!) of everyone involved. When it comes to the point when you need to discontinue a relationship with a problem client you may feel a bit nervous about how you should approach it. As liberating as it can be, change can also be frightening and it is not wise to burn bridges. So, how does one discontinue a relationship with a client?


Firing a Problem Client - ReasonsFirst, consider why you are firing the client. Is it an issue that can be resolved through communication? Have you clearly communicated your frustrations or grievances to your client? If so, consider how they have responded. If the client has at least attempted to change any objectionable behavior or attempted to work with you, the relationship might be salvageable. If the client has not even attempted that, it’s doubtful that the relationship is still workable.

There are certain behaviors that should immediately be considered deal breakers. There is a difference between a client who is merely annoying and a client who is dishonest. A client who deceives you is one that you do not want to continue having further dealings with. A client who is verbally abusive or aggressive is one you should immediately show the door. A relationship requires mutual respect. If the client is not willing to treat you with respect, the relationship needs to end.

Other reasons to fire your client include the client making unreasonable demands, not paying for your services or they never respond to you. What constitutes an unreasonable demand is a matter of opinion, but if your client is calling you in the middle of the night requesting that you do something for them you might want to reconsider the relationship.

There are reasons to fire a client other than the ones I have just stated. Sometimes, people simply do not get along. Their personalities may clash or they might simply have clashing values. If you find that you and your client are spending more time in conflict than you are being productive then it is time to say goodbye.

Sometimes, #clients and #vendors do not get along. There is a solution! #SmallBiz Click To Tweet


There are several ways to fire a client without causing hurt feelings or an awkward situation. Honesty, as always, is key. One script you may consider using when firing a client is the classic “it’s not you, it’s me.” Simply explain to the client that you and the client are not getting along and that the client would be better served going elsewhere. You can give the client reasons, but that is up to you. Pointing the client to certain competitors is also something you can do as it points them in a direction away from yourself. The competitors might be annoyed, of course, but they might be a better fit for a client.

Firing a Problem Client - shaking handsAnother script which can be used is to make it professional rather than personal. In fact, this script probably works best in most situations. Inform your client that your business is moving in a new direction and will no longer be offering them your services. As in the last script you can point them in the direction of other businesses that might better fit their needs, personalities or values. The advantage of this script is that it comes across as a business decision rather than a personal one therefore making you look professional.

No matter the route you choose to dismiss your client, there are some things to remember. Be direct, be polite and be firm. An aggressive client might be expected to be as difficult leaving as they were in other areas. Simply remain firm and calm. In general, calmness tends to defuse a potentially hostile situation.

When firing a #client, keep things professional - not personal. #SalesAndMarketing #SmallBiz Click To Tweet


Firing a client can be a difficult decision. You might worry that your business could suffer loss of revenue or you might not be sure of how to end a relationship with a client. The easiest way to go about firing a client is simply to do it. Be direct and honest with your client and you will find that your business will benefit.

Freeing yourself from this situation has both personal and business benefits. On a personal level your stress will probably drop significantly. With your problem client gone you will be able to find a client that can better fit your business needs.


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About Charles

Charles Alexander Neal is a graduate of Southern New Hampshire’s creative writing program. He is a novelist, short story writer and locally produced playwright. He also plays the flute and performed with the Cape Fear Community College orchestra.

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