Should you ditch that Nightmare Client?

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As a growing small business, it can be very difficult to want to turn away cash in hand. However, there is indeed a time, place and situation in which you may want to consider passing on the business, to avoid the nightmare client.

All clients are not created equally! Therefore all sales will not follow the same path. You want to focus only on those who fit your ideal client mold.

The other end of this spectrum is where you find the nightmare client. Best advice would be to get out ahead of yourself and say no from the start, avoiding the awkwardness down the line.

Ask yourself: Does this project/client get you fired up? Are you passionate about it/him/her? If the answer is no, your answer should be no.

Once involved in the working relationship there are a few red flag situations that should be enough for you to ask to be relieved of the client:

  1. Issues with respect and professionalism. If the client does not offer you respect and maintain professionalism from the start, you should feel justified in ending the relationship. Sometimes it may mean removing yourself from the project and other times it may mean dissolution of the project.
  2. Compensation is not reflecting the work/time spent. Often clients can bog us down with perfectionist details, and it’s important to start the relationship with clear boundaries and rates that are agreed upon. If you feel low-balled or like you were misled in terms of the workload, you may want to consider severing ties. It speaks to a dishonest nature.
  3. Do you see missed payments, missed appointments and constant rescheduling with this client? This does not bode well, and would be a good sign that the relationship will not be symbiotic.
  4. Has the client stopped taking advice and started acting on their own instincts? This simply means that no matter what happens, you will be held accountable, whether you implement the idea or not.

So you have determined that your client relationship cannot continue. How do you go about best ending the relationship?
Some experts say that firing a client can leave a bad taste in other clients’ mouths and leaves you dealing with a reputation problem, no matter what the circumstance. The preferred tactic is to first attempt to get the client to leave on their own.

Try raising rates, making deadline changes, staffing manipulations, or simple changes to your terms and conditions. This gives the client an out, they will feel they left on their own, and you are in the clear.

Engage your conflict resolution skills and try and open and honest conversation. Some problems can be addressed and fixed, others maybe not so easily. You do at least have to try.

If breaking up is the only way out, so be it. Save yourself! Just remember to be professional, polite and firm, yet kind. Be clear and focused in your message, avoid the blame game. Try and find a way to encourage them that this is best for both parties, as the best relationships should always do.

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