Some clients are just no good for you.
When you start a business, you take everybody who comes. You don’t vet them in any way—you’re just grateful for the work that they give you. You need to earn money and any project or client is better than none.
However, sooner or later you come to realise that some of your clients are just no good for you. They’re no good for your peace of mind, no good for your reputation, and they cause more stress than their money is worth.
There comes a time when you seriously have to consider dropping your client—and that’s not an easy decision to make. Nor is it an easy thing to do. However, you are in control of the situation, not them, and sometimes you simply have to move on.
How do you know when it’s time to drop a client?
- Any client you work with should treat you with respect. If you respect someone you don’t need to like them in order to have a successful working relationship. It can even be a benefit. However, there is no excuse for a client treating you badly. If a client is disrespectful, overly critical of your work or rude, then it’s time to cut your losses.
- If you don’t enjoy the work anymore it may be time to say no. If you’re not excited when you get an initial enquiry, consider turning the work down. Most businesses grow through word-of-mouth and through reputation. So it’s important to fill your portfolio with the kind of work that you want to be known for and that you’d like to be offered in the future.
How do you turn down work?
1. Listen to their idea
Be certain that you’re not going to accept their project. There may be a possibility—however remote—that their project will turn out to be one that you want to take on, and it would be a shame to miss out just because you didn’t listen to them.
2. Use an e-mail template
If you would like me to send you the email template for politely turning down a client, or for getting rid of an existing client, please contact me at [email protected] and I will send it to you.
3. Offer them an alternative
If I don’t want to take on a client because I’m too busy or because I don’t want to do that particular type of work, I pass them on to somebody who I know will be happy to do the work. It may seem counterintuitive to recommend your competitors, but it won’t do your professional reputation any harm, and it may even enhance it.
If the client comes back to you after contacting other people, be gracious to them. They obviously chose you for a reason and maybe they feel that nobody else will satisfy them. However, don’t feel that you need to take on the job, even then.
4. Increase your price
One solution I use is: If I’m not sure that what the client is asking me to do is what I want to be involved in, I double my price. I ask for a fee that is commensurate with the stress that goes along with the job. That way, if they still want to work with me, even if I’m not enjoying what I am doing at least I know that I am a being paid well for it.
What do you think? Have you ever turned down a client, or considered it?