In a recent blog post, I wrote about how to turn difficult clients into customer success stories. Sometimes, though, despite your best efforts, it is just not working.
Here are 8 signs it’s time to fire a client:
1 – Your client undoes all of your work
Have you ever delivered a project to a client, only to have them dismantle it piece by piece and then rearrange it so that it makes no sense? For me, this is a sign that they don’t recognize or appreciate your expertise and have decided that they are the true expert. If that’s the case, well, good luck to them!
2 – Your client is never available
If your client is very slow to respond to emails and voicemails – or doesn’t even bother to respond – and is constantly cancelling and rescheduling meetings, then the project you are working on is not a priority for them.
3 – Your client withholds information
At the beginning of your project, you told your client what resources and information you need from them in order to do your job and meet their goals. If they withhold that information, it might be literally impossible for you to complete the project.
4 – Your client does stuff behind your back
This is always a fun one to deal with: clients who hire another consultant without telling you, shift strategies, or ignore your recommendations (for a graphics firm, manufacturer, etc.) and go with someone else instead (who turns out to be, oh, not very good).
5 – Your client asks you do something unethical
Thankfully, I have never had a client ask me to do this, but I did work for a company in which the CEO asked a colleague to do a whole list of unethical things. Going to jail for someone else’s hubris is not a good idea.
6 – Your client doesn’t pay
I just got paid for a small project 8 months after the work was complete. This client had the audacity to brush it off and then ask me to work on another project with him. Um, no.
A corollary to this is if a client balks at the price and tries to negotiate it down or push it back. You might never get paid (this happened to me on a big project).
7 – Your client constantly changes scope of work
Changing the scope of a project happens often, and it is usually not a big deal. What is a big deal is when the client expects you to do more work for free.
8 – Your client is never satisfied
Some people are literally impossible to please. Maybe they ask for one tweak after another, thus dragging out the project. Maybe they take one look at what you did and say they hate it – and refuse to pay. The stress of trying to please a negative Nelly is just not worth it. Save your sanity, and say good-bye.
Have you ever fired a client? Why?
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