It happens to all of us-that one client that drives you crazy. Emailing and texting you 100 times a day at all hours. Demanding your time and energy on their crazy requests. Not reading the emails you’ve already sent detailing how to do this or that.
Requesting info you’ve already sent.
Never making up their mind-constantly wanting changes.
We all have clients we would LOVE to fire. But should you?
As yourself: Do you really need to let the client go?
If you’re having nightmares, trouble sleeping, dreaming of firing them, or dreading calling them, it might be time to let go. But before you do, consider a simple conversation to clear the air. Email tends to escalate things so pick up the phone and talk to them before you go further.
If you’re still thinking of letting the client go, check out the items below before you cut the cord.
1) Can you afford to let the client go?
Will the loss of the income be a financial blow? If so, it’s time assess the situation and find ways to improve it. Often this means providing guidelines and policies for your client to follow. Be prepared though-conversations like this can get ugly so you should be ready for your client to balk or even fire you!
Keep in mind that keeping a customer is much cheaper than acquiring a new one so you want to take your time before you say goodbye to this established income.
2) Role Play
Find someone whom you can play this out with-not only will you be better prepared for the conversation, but you might learn something invaluable about the customer because sometimes, your role-player will tap into the client’s perspective-giving you valuable insight into what’s going on. Sometimes this exercise will save the relationship because you’ll understand where they’re coming from-and can adjust your response accordingly. We often end up with blinders on and forget what it’s like to be the customer so don’t feel bad-it happens!
3) Consider the legal ramifications
If you’re in a contract, you might be on the hook so it’s important to consult a lawyer to ensure that you can’t be held liable if you do say goodbye to this client. It is critical to make sure that all your legal obligations are met to protect you in the future. Often its painful but the best option to stick it out until your contract is fulfilled.
4) Stick to your guns
No one wants to be hard to work with, but with clients who are needy and taking up valuable time and energy, it is critical to stick to your policies. You’ve created them for a reason! Refusing to budge might just push the client to leave without your having to do a thing.
So you’ve decided to let the client go?
-DON’T beat around the bush
-DO Offer up alternative suggestions
-DO Be clear that you feel you aren’t meeting their needs and that it’s not them.
-DO Make it your goal to make them feel fondly about you and happy that you referred them
-DO IT IN PERSON opting to do it via phone, text, or email is just like breaking up with someone in a birthday card: a really bad idea
-DON’T DODGE their communication. If you’ve decided to let them go, you need to do it. Avoiding their calls and emails can end in a lawsuit so avoid this.
-DO use a simple ‘breakup phrase’ like “As my business has grown, I’m refining what clients I serve and how I serve them. At this time, I feel you would be much better served by another photographer who can capture your vision clearly.”
In the future, be selective about who you sign on. Just because they want you doesn’t make them the best client for you. Making sure that you’ll both be happy insures a happy working relationship for everyone involved. Over time, you’ll learn which clients are going to be great to work with and which will drain you-and how to make sure you don’t end up with ones that will bleed you dry of creativity and joy.
I hope this helps anyone considering dropping their client! We all have them from time to time so it’s important to know when you should actually throw the towel in and how to proceed if you do.
Want to learn more about setting up a legitimate business? Check out The Shop where you can find our “Getting Started” workbook which will help you make the transition to being a professional photographer AND our “Business 101” which will help you get things done right.