Without clients, our respective businesses simply wouldn’t exist. However, the relationship with some clients can be so bad, you are much better off parting ways.
When one crosses the line, should you try to salvage the relationship, or do you deliver a satisfying Trump-like “You’re Fired!”?
If only it were that easy. Burning bridges isn’t wise.
Here’s my list of Top 5 must-dump clients, and how to do it.
1. The Cheapskate: Have you noticed that the client who pays the least expects the most? If they nickel and dime you right out of the gate – run, do not walk. This client will change scope, change their mind, and change strategies to the point where your average hourly rate pales to that of a baby sitter.
How to break up:
How to break up:Easy: Raise your rates. He doesn’t value your work, and sees you as a drag to the bottom line. You can’t win.
2. Never Satisfied Guy: No matter how may miracles you pull out of your ear, it’s never good enough. This client isn’t ever going to be happy with your work. It may be a communication issue – where he has something in mind he can’t pinpoint or articulate. Or, he just plain doesn’t know what he wants. Naturally you can’t deliver on the unknown.
How to break up:
How to break up:Remember, you risk this guy bad mouthing you. So, if you’ve finished the project, make it clear you’ve conformed to the scope originally agreed upon and cite the agreements from the onset of the engagement. It’s important he understands you delivered exactly what he asked for. When he asks for additional work, you may want to say previous commitments will prevent any additional work now, and refer him to someone else.
3. Abusive Guy: If it feels abusive, it is. You’re a professional, not a slave. Nobody deserves abuse anywhere.
How to break up: Stop the engagement. Make sure all invoices are paid and hand over work to date.
4. Einstein: You know him! In his mind, he’s forgotten more about what you do than you will ever know. And, he took a (fill in the blank) course in college (hey, so did I!). So, why did he hire you in the first place?
How to break up: Like with Abusive Guy, stop the work and get all invoices up to date. Additionally, Einstein will probably take a crack at what you started, so you may want to make certain his final output can not be tied back to you as it could sully your reputation.
5. Zero attention-span guy: He sends you 57 emails a day, most of them after 9pm. They are all on the same topic, but he’s managed to flip flop so much within each email, now even you’re confused.
How to break up: There might be a way to salvage this to make it through the end of the gig. First, let him know that you can’t deliver on your deadlines when he misses his. You may even want to attach additional billable hours to missed deadlines. To work with this guy requires an iron hand in a velvet glove. If that’s not you, he probably won’t change his behavior, so you may want to shy away from future work.
Now, I realize if you’re an agent, some of the “how to break up” advice may not apply. That said, tell me if you’ve run into some of these guys (or gals, as the case may be) and how you said good bye.