When it’s time to fire a client.

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You know that feeling you get when you work with a client who truly appreciates the value you add to their life or business? How you feel all energized?  But sometimes you have a client who drains you and you feel worse after working with them.  If you are in a service or consulting business, your income depends on attracting and retaining clients but not all clients are right for you. Here are some hints it’s time to fire a client:

-She wants 90% of the work for 50% of the money.

We’ve all worked with someone like this. You work up a proposal that involves several segments for a package price. You spend time presenting it to the client and explain how each piece will benefit her business. She’s excited about it and says, “Yes, let’s go for it.” She calls you later and says, “I’ve been thinking about this and I want you to do the part first and then we’ll do the other part later.” She expects you to charge her half as much because she’s only asking for half of the project. What she doesn’t realize is that she is asking you to do the most time consuming work for half the money. It’s time to fire that client.

-She thinks you are available to her round the clock.

If you do any kind of coaching or consulting, you’ve probably dealt with this high maintenance client. You set up a series of phone or in-person appointments and at the end of each meeting, you give the client homework.  Between meetings, she emails this work to you so that you can be prepared and don’t have to “waste time” on your next scheduled call. What she’s saying is, “I want you to work on this during time that I am not paying for.” Time to fire her.

-He thinks taking you to lunch to talk about his business doesn’t count as billed time.

After I sold my last business, I consulted with other retailers to help them increase revenue and profits. I charged a modest fee and my clients saw results. An existing client called and asked if we could meet for lunch and discuss my helping him market his business for sale.  We didn’t have a decent business broker in town so I did all the marketing on the sale of my business myself.  Several other shopkeepers had called to ask how I brought in three offers when their businesses sat on the market  without a bite, so I added this to my consulting practice. I met the above mentioned client for lunch and outlined the exact steps I would take to get his business sold. They included setting up a separate web site for the sale of his business, writing copy, preparing a prospectus, setting up social media sites and writing posts for him. After quoting him a fee, he said, “Oh, I didn’t realize that was part of your business. I can do that myself now that I know what needs to be done.” He paid the check, gave me a hug and said, “Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me about this.”  When a client assumes your intellectual property can be bought for the price of a tuna fish sandwich, it’s time to fire him.

If you’ve clearly defined your services and fees and a client is trying to get something for nothing, let them go. If you don’t feel great working with someone, be honest with them. Tell them the relationship isn’t working. Don’t let them rent space in your brain for free. You’ll be surprised how letting go of one bad one will open space for three ideal clients.

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