How to say goodbye to difficult clients (without hurting their feelings)
Not all clients are good clients! A case that comes up time and time again is the client who is slow to respond to emails, doesn’t answer phone calls and keeps pushing back the payment. This can go on for weeks or months. Often these clients also try to push your rates down from the beginning or try to get extra work included for free.
How can you say goodbye to these difficult clients without sounding too harsh and without hurting their feelings?
Let me re-assure you: Saying goodbye to a difficult client is a good business decision and a sign of maturity!
Think of it like ripping off a plaster – be quick, clear and concise and it will hurt less. You’ll feel a sense of relief afterwards. Try to keep your emotions at bay and don’t burn any bridges. The world works in funny ways and you never know when your paths might cross again.
My preferred method is to call the client to explain the situation, then follow up with a quick email.
Client not responding to calls? Then just send a short email instead. Don’t skip the email, it’s important to have written confirmation for contractual reasons.
The phone call:
Phone: Hi John, how are you? There’s something I need to talk to you about. I don’t feel that I’m the best person to work on your project anymore. We’ve worked together for a long time and I wanted to let you know in person. I will of course finish the 3 tasks that we have already agreed. Once they are done, I’m afraid I will no longer be able to work on the project. I hope you understand….Thank you. I’ll send you a quick email to confirm in writing….Bye.
The follow-up email:
Dear John, as discussed over the phone just now, I will not be able to work on the project after the 3 tasks that we have already agreed. I will of course finish those 3 tasks. Many thanks for your business and I wish you success with the project going forwards. Kind regards – [YOUR NAME HERE]
And it’s done. Celebrate the moment, pat yourself on the back! You’ve just made your life (and your business) a whole lot easier!