How do I fire a problem client?
Working as a freelancer definitely has its pros and cons. You get to pick your own hours, the type of work you want to do, your own rates, and the clients you want to work with. Sometimes, though, we start to work with a someone only to realize they aren’t our ideal client.
If you’re new to the world of freelancing (and still in the employee mindset) it’s easy to forget, YOU get to choose who you work with. Don’t feel like you have to keep those problem clients around!
Has this ever happened to you? You thought you found the perfect client. Things started out great, but soon you realized this client is not working out. How do you get rid of them? What are the steps you need to take?
I’m hesitant to fire a client
Getting rid of a problem client can seem a little daunting and you may have some hesitations.
I don’t like conflict
Sometimes the fear of conflict can leave us feeling stuck. We don’t like confrontation and would rather suck it up and just continue working for them.
Don’t let your fear of conflict keep you from firing the client. You aren’t doing yourself OR the client any favors. You became a freelancer because you want to enjoy the work and the client needs someone that wants to work for them.
Confrontation doesn’t have to be a negative thing if it’s handled the right way. It’s all in the approach.
I have a scarcity mindset
Are you hesitating to fire a problem client because you’re worried you won’t find another client to replace them? If so, you’re living with a scarcity mindset.
You need to shift that mindset to one of abundance. You were able to find this client, which means there are plenty of other clients out there. Think of this as a learning experience to figure out who you want to work with and who you don’t.
What makes a client and problem client?
There are many different reasons a client isn’t compatible with you. Here are some of the main reasons.
1. Communication Issues. Not being able to communicate with your client when you need to creates issues, especially when working with a deadline. On the flip side, the client could be messaging you at all hours of the day and night and not respecting your office hours. Being able to communicate effectively with your client during office hours is a key component to getting a job done correctly.
2. Unreasonable Expectations. Some clients are just too demanding. They expect you to be at their beck and call and to know how to do all the things. These are not reasonable expectations and they don’t make it a happy work environment.
3. Disrespectful and Condescending. Some clients can really do a number on your self-confidence. They make you feel like your work isn’t ever quite good enough, they micromanage, they always second guess your decisions, or give you backhanded compliments.
4. Boring Work. Sometimes you find the work is just plain boring. Which means you don’t really have a problem with the client, but you still should move on. You don’t want to dread the work they give you because you find it boring and unstimulating. You chose to freelance so that you could be happy about the work you’re doing!
5. Late Payers. Some clients are notorious for either always being late with a payment or never paying. Don’t keep these clients around! You deserve to get paid for the work you’re doing in a timely manner.
Steps to take to fire a client
So, what do you do if you find yourself working for a problem client?
1. Consult your contract. The first thing you should do is consult your contract. It should state that you are an independent contractor which means you are NOT an employee. The biggest benefit to being an independent contractor is that you can terminate any working relationship for any reason.
2. Schedule a meeting. If at all possible, schedule a meeting either in person or via video. It may be daunting, especially if you don’t like conflict, but it’s the most respectful thing to do. You can also record a video meeting to keep for your own records, if needed. Just be sure to let them know you are recording it.
3. Put it in writing. After your meeting, follow up with a written notice.
4. Finish any open projects. Offer to finish any projects (within a reasonable amount of time) you’ve been working on so that you don’t leave them hanging. You don’t want to burn any bridges.
5. Possibly recommend someone else. If you have someone else you could recommend that would be a better fit, this may help alleviate any hard feelings.
6. Learn. Take this time to figure out why they weren’t a good fit. Was it the wrong niche, wrong type of work, etc. Figuring out what the issues were may help you in the future.
Finding clients you can work well with is very important to the success of your business. Also staying with clients you’re unhappy with will not benefit either one of you. It’s important to know who you like to work with and what makes you happy so you can find the right client for you.