We’ve all had that extremely tough client – the one that makes us wonder why we went into the design business at all!! But before you throw in the towel, remember that you can “fire” your client if you need to. It’s a delicate business, but there is an art to it. Read on for my best tips!
Timing Is Everything
First, you want to have good vetting processes in place when you take on new clients. That process will throw up red flags for you – and you should pay attention to them! That keeps you from taking on the wrong client in the first place. But let’s say they slipped past your vetting and they’re now your client. If you’re in the middle of a project, or near the end, the timing may not be right for firing that client. Ask yourself if you can just hold on till the installation – otherwise you’re going to look unprofessional for leaving a job unfinished.
It’s better to get rid of a client in the very beginning, of course, or before you’ve ordered any furnishings. That way you can hand them the design and walk away (once you’re paid, of course). Finally, check your contract to be sure that leaving the project won’t put you in breach of your agreement! Firing a client needs to happen only in the worst-case scenarios!
Don’t leave by burning bridges and causing drama! You want the exit to be as professional as possible. You can always use excuses like: “It isn’t you, it’s me.” You can tell them that the fit isn’t the best and you want them to have a terrific experience. Whatever you decide to tell them as your reason for breaking things off is up to you, just try to make it as easy and calm as possible.
Have a Plan
The most important key to firing a client is to be as professional as possible. You need to meet in person, or at the very least on the phone. Do not ever fire anyone – client, employee, or sub – by email. During your meeting, be as calm as you possibly can, and don’t make things personal. You should also have a plan ready for them that spells out next steps. You don’t want to strand them with nowhere to turn. That’s just not going to do your reputation any favors.
The most important thing you can do is avoid having to fire clients! Be sure to listen to your gut, keep your eyes open for any red flags, and be sure you’ve talked over all of your expectations for the project with your client. That really does help avoid a lot of major issues! Download my FREE Client Expectation Guideline Template to help you keep things on an even footing!