It sounds counter-intuitive doesn’t it?

How can firing your clients make your business grow? You need clients to generate revenue that you can invest in your business, right?

Yes, but they need to be the right clients for you and your business.

I’m talking about the clients you enjoy working for and want more of the same rather than the ones you keep putting off, hate talking to and actually wish would go to someone else.

Those clients are holding you back.

They’re quite literally draining you of energy and time that can be put to better use, i.e. growing your business. And while you might be worried about the hit to your income, having more time for your good clients, for marketing and for networking will quickly recover your losses and improve your profit.

How can you fire your clients without ruining your reputation?

Identify the clients you want to fire and why.

Is the problem because of them, or is it actually you? Sometimes, especially when we’re new to business, we bend over backwards for our clients and end up shooting ourselves in the foot as a result.

If your client is constantly contacting you at all hours of the day and night – did you make it clear what your office/contact hours are?

If your client is frequently asking for changes, revisions or ‘more’ for the same amount – do you have a clear contract in place of what they can expect and that you’ll charge extra when they want more than that?

I’m talking about setting boundaries and sticking to them.

If we don’t make it clear how we’re going to work with our clients, we can’t really blame them when things get difficult.

A quick email explaining that you’re changing your working hours or introducing contracts for all clients is a good way of creating boundaries that work for you and weeding out the bad clients if they refuse to sign.

When you genuinely have a bad apple of a client honesty is the best policy

You don’t have to explain your reasons for wanting to end a working relationship.

So long as the work paid for has been done, or you offer to refund, it’s a simple case of saying you want to terminate the arrangement and when.

Of course, you’re going to have to say something in your email or letter (and while a phone conversation might seem the better option to take, you need proof and formality here so stick to the written word), so here are a few approaches you can take:

We’re just not a good fit

If you’ve run into a lot of problems or constantly being asked to amend and revise your work, it’s a good indication that you’re not a good fit, and the perfect reason for ending an arrangement.

A simple sentence of “due to the recent problems/delays with the work/project, I feel that we’re not a good fit for each other. Your requirements are beyond our/my scope at present, but I’d love to recommend Jane Bloggs who I think would be a perfect match for you”.

Introducing a contact who is happy to take on the client (make sure you check they’re happy with that first!) is a great way of easing the blow and ensuring your reputation remains intact.

I’m unable to provide those services any longer

When you’ve evolved your business and providing different services, it’s a great reason for firing those earlier clients. Even when the services you offer are the same, you’re unlikely to be challenged too much.

Try saying something like this.

“I just wanted to let you know that I’ve changed direction with my business and will no longer be offering x, y and z services. I apologise for any inconvenience this may cause, but from this date, I will no longer be able to continue with our contract/arrangement. I’d love to recommend Jane Bloggs to you who is great at offering this service and will be happy to hear from you”.

My fees are increasing

This might end with you keeping the client but with a higher rate of pay for the work that might just be enough to stop them feeling like such an issue, if you really do want to fire them then make sure the price rise is too high for them to want to continue with.

“I’m writing to let you know that from this date I will be increasing the fees of this service due to rising business costs. As this is a service I’m offering to you, I wanted to give you the opportunity to decide if you want to continue using me to provide these services. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to discuss this further.”

It’s not easy breaking up with a client, but it is worth it in terms of your time, energy and sometimes your sanity! Stay firm, stand your ground and try not to enter into lengthy dialogue about things – this is your business so do what’s right for you and your success.