As a female in business, or any gender for that matter, it can be challenging having to take the dominant position, especially when it comes to dealing with clients. While we all certainly dream of working with only the best clients, there will always be those that push our buttons. In the end, though, a few misunderstandings are no reason to fire a client – unless those issues are far greater than a simple, one-time scare.
With bad clients, there will always be clear warning signs. If you note any one of these, the client is a detriment and ties should be severed as soon as possible.
The first is that they are unreasonable. Whether they call at weird hours of the night or stress out because they gave you last minute assignments to finish without the proper time in which to complete them, such behavior is not something you can idly allow to happen. If you speak with them to clarify your expectations and they still don’t change, it’s time to move on.
Secondly, a major warning sign is if they try to get you to work for free. Though helping out occasionally is always a great way to further develop the relationship, you have bills to pay. A client that doesn’t respect this simple fact does not respect your value as a professional.
Slow payers, though not always a problem, can be an issue if you tracking down their lack of payment eats into your work time. You’re not being paid to babysit their lack of organization or to continually remind them that a bill is due.
As an expert, you are hired to take care of things that clients don’t know much about. That’s why when they don’t listen to you, problems can arise. Of course, good discussions certainly stem from great questions clients bring up, but if they consistently doubt your authority, the stress is not worth it.
Like the slow payers, some clients simply disappear. They’ll do great with communication then suddenly disappear when you have important questions relating to the project. Do what you can, but if their priorities have shifted away, you should plan to shift away as well.
Firing a Client
When a client becomes more hassle than what you’re being paid, it’s time to put your foot down and let them go. Just remember, though, that they have friends and will talk about their experience. Even if all you want to do is burn the bridge so that a new one can never be built again, always show restraint and be the bigger person. Explain why you must move one, thank them for your time together and graciously move on to work that won’t have your hair turning gray. In most cases, they client no doubt feels the same and will be relieved that you were brave enough to call out the bad relationship for what it was.