Clients are the lifeblood of any business. Without them, your venture simply doesn’t exist. On the other hand, some clients are so bad that your business, not to mention your personal sanity, is better off without them. So what do you do when you have a client that pushes you to the brink? You fire them! That’s right, you fire them! I have fired a few clients in my career and although it’s not fun or easy to do, it’s necessary.
Here’s how to give 10 of the worst offenders the pink slip without burning bridges:
1. THE BARGAIN SHOPPER:
As a general rule, the client who pays the least will expect the most. The words “I need this done cheap” should strike fear in your heart, not because of profit margins, but because this client will nickel-and-dime you within an inch of your life for extra work, support and other nuisances that were not in the original scope.
How to get out: This one’s simple: Raise your rates, if only for this particular client. The bargain shopper will move on to the next firm that offers a better price, as he’s concerned only with the bottom line, not the value of your work.
2. THE CLIENT WHO CAN’T MAKE DEADLINES:
This client wants you to have his project as your top priority, because he’s on a tight schedule and needs to get something produced right away. You agree, assuming that you’ll have all of the information you need to get it done quickly. Unfortunately, your client drops off the face of the earth, ignoring your requests for approvals and other correspondence, until your previously agreed upon due date comes and goes. At this point, you’re both blaming each other for the project’s delay, and it’s not pretty.
How to get out: Establish the fact that you are not able to meet deadlines, unless your client is able to meet theirs. Instead of setting a concrete date, make it contingent upon receipt of information, such as a certain number of days from the signed approval date. Don’t accept any future work from this client, as his habits are not likely to change. Instead, tell him that you’re experiencing a high volume of work and offer to refer him to another firm.
3. THE CLIENT WITH A NOT-SO-SMALL PROJECT:
You get a call out of the blue from a new customer who wants you to complete a small, simple project. He thinks it should be easy and uncomplicated, so he’s only willing to pay a small fee. You agree that this is fair, until you realize the client is going to make this small project a major pain with endless changes and additions that were not a part of the original budget.
How to get out: If you agreed to do a certain amount of work for a particular price, deliver it and do a good job. But if this client pushes boundaries, clearly inform them that extra work will cost extra money. If they refuse to respect your rules, invoice them for any unpaid work and stop the project in its tracks. Give them what you’ve produced up to the point where you severed ties, but only if they’ve paid for it.
4. THE ONE WHO’S NEVER SATISFIED:
Even if you come in under budget and over deliver, this client just isn’t happy with your work. He may have something in his mind that he just can’t communicate to you, and when you don’t deliver this idea that lives in his head, he’s disappointed.
How to get out: Ask the client to clearly describe or sketch what he’s looking for, or even send you an example. He may want a product that looks like his friend’s, but he’s afraid to say so. If you’re already done with the project and you’ve done a great job, don’t sweat it. Make it clear to the client, citing any agreements that you’ve made, that you stuck to the scope of the project and delivered exactly what he asked for. You don’t want to have him bad-mouth you or stiff you on an invoice. Consider offering to do additional work on this project if he can provide more clarity on his desires. If he would like to hire you again in the future, you may want to tell him that your business has gone in a different direction....more via