Knowing when to say goodbye to a client can make your work a little easier — and profitable.
Letting go of clients who are difficult to work with or don’t fit your business model, says Rosemary Smyth, coach and owner of Rosemary Smyth and Associates in Victoria, enables you to focus your resources on clients who fit your ideal-client profile.
Follow these tips to help you determine when and how to fire a client:
> Look for the signs
There are several reasons why you might need to “fire” a client, according to Smyth.
Some common red flags are: abusive, rude or threatening behaviour; a client who frequently request changes to trades, which could be costly to your business; a client who takes up a lot of your time, yet does very little actual business with you; a client who consistently ignores your recommendations and advice.
> Keep a record
If you feel a client is taking up too much of your time, Smyth says, make sure it’s not just all in your mind.
For example, she says, if you believe a client is wasting your time on the phone, keep a record of the phone calls, their length and subject, to make sure that is actually the case.
As well, ask team members if the client is also calling them frequently, to give you a clearer understanding of how much time the client is taking away from your business.
> Avoid acting impulsively
Give yourself time to think the matter through before saying anything to the client that you might regret.
If you’re angry with a client, Smyth says, give yourself a day or two to cool down. Take the time to decide whether you want to “fire” the client, or if it’s just a one-time misunderstanding.
> Talk with a manager
Depending on the situation with the client, it may be best to get management involved.
Some circumstances, such as a client being excessively rude or making unreasonable demands, may require that you bring the matter up with your branch manager and have him or her talk with the client.
> Watch your tone
Before “firing” a client, think carefully about how you will let him or her know of your decision.
For example, Smyth says, you might tell your client that you don’t feel that your business is the right fit for him or her. Or, you might say that you are restructuring your business and letting some clients go. Remember to always offer a referral for another advisor.