Agghh.... I think I want to 'break up' with a client

12 replies
I have a new client, who isn't really a good fit. I'm realising it's probably time to part ways.

From time to time I do find myself 'breaking up' with clients for a number of reasons, usually it is because we are not a good fit, their business ideas aren't really aligned with mine and sometimes it is a personality clash.

Usually, I just inform the client when they request for a new project to be started that we can't take on any new projects or we're not longer available and suggest other avenues they might want to pursue for their marketing support.

I was wondering what steps marketers out there take when you realise a client is not a good fit and you want to let their down nicely without any confrontation.

Looking forward to hearing your steps.
#agghh #break #client
  • Profile picture of the author Regional Warrior
    Its OK to fire a client if they are to demanding have done so before , I just told them that it was not working and thanked them for their business

    check your PM

    Jason
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  • Profile picture of the author George Schwab
    Yeah, stay friendly as long as possible. Make a statement in a calm voice, then say goodbye, and hang up the phone.
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  • Profile picture of the author jamesbrands
    From my experience of firing 2 clients I just told them the truth and offered them a notice period to find someone else.

    Both were larger companies with heads of departments that talked a great game, loved conference calls but when it came to actually providing us with what we needed they were nowhere to be seen.
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  • Profile picture of the author katrim
    As other have said it, it is what it is and the best thing is to (try to) never burn bridges. Offering a complete refund will rest the case usually.
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  • Profile picture of the author neshaword
    Hope you can use some of my experience of working on 600+ projects. The longer you wait, the worse it gets. There's no win-win solution here. Someone's gonna get hurt, better not you. Just imagine the following scenario. Do you think that your client would be so thoughtful, if he was to end a working relationship with you? I think you're a good guy with honest intentions, my hat off to your decision to ask a question such as this. Yet, don't forget about reciprocity. A new day - a new client knocking at your door. Had days when I got 3 new projects in a single day! Then, I lost 3 clients in a day! So, save your nerves and time for more enjoyable things in life. Cheers! N
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    • Profile picture of the author gingerninjas
      Originally Posted by neshaword View Post

      Hope you can use some of my experience of working on 600+ projects. The longer you wait, the worse it gets. There's no win-win solution here. Someone's gonna get hurt, better not you. Just imagine the following scenario. Do you think that your client would be so thoughtful, if he was to end a working relationship with you? I think you're a good guy with honest intentions, my hat off to your decision to ask a question such as this. Yet, don't forget about reciprocity. A new day - a new client knocking at your door. Had days when I got 3 new projects in a single day! Then, I lost 3 clients in a day! So, save your nerves and time for more enjoyable things in life. Cheers! N
      Thanks for your comment, I completely agree about the situation being reciprocated. I do believe it is easier for clients to move on and try new marketing support when they aren't 100% happy with the deliverables - whereas for marketers, you are stuck between a rock and a hard place some time.

      I totally agree about not burning bridges, being professional, honest and quick off the market in the cases where a break up is necessary.

      I take the old 'It's not you, it's me approach' when I do have to do the breaking up, which works quite well.

      Of late, I have had a huge amount of work come in so I have been able to be a little more picky, whereas in the past I might have soldiered on with some clients as I didn't have the same options or backed my knowledge as much as I do now.

      I really appeciate all your suggestions, it's a weird predicament and now that my business is growing and colleagues are recommending my services I guess I need to do my initial consultations a little better to ensure new clients fit before taking on any work. I might have got a little lazy when it comes to making phone calls or doing the initial consults... all food for thought.
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  • Profile picture of the author superowid
    Tell them the truth and explain it in a nice manner. Just like when we resign from a company we work for.
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  • Profile picture of the author George Schwab
    yeah gingerninjas, when your biz is picking up speed, you need to be more selective,

    because now your time is getting more expensive, and all non-fits are just slowing you down,
    they create extra admin time and end of the day costing you money.

    my wife does the same mistake currently, and she's a bad listener at time, basically i could
    streamline her biz in one week flat, but she not let me, so we talk a lot. She sweat-talks bad clients
    because she's younger than me. I sweet-talk to an extend, my patience is 5 x that of big companies,
    but then mate you have to cut them loose if they insist to be a pain in the abc.

    Look, its not about money, forget that, its about life. You need to protect yours, and let them live theirs.
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    • Profile picture of the author gingerninjas
      Originally Posted by George Schwab View Post

      yeah gingerninjas, when your biz is picking up speed, you need to be more selective,

      because now your time is getting more expensive, and all non-fits are just slowing you down,
      they create extra admin time and end of the day costing you money.

      my wife does the same mistake currently, and she's a bad listener at time, basically i could
      streamline her biz in one week flat, but she not let me, so we talk a lot. She sweat-talks bad clients
      because she's younger than me. I sweet-talk to an extend, my patience is 5 x that of big companies,
      but then mate you have to cut them loose if they insist to be a pain in the abc.

      Look, its not about money, forget that, its about life. You need to protect yours, and let them live theirs.
      Couldn't agree more - I am so focused on work life balance now. I have had a few colleagues burn out lately, so it has made the whole scenario resonate a little more than it would have a few months ago. Life's too short.
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  • Profile picture of the author jimmeettee
    Breaking up is never easy. Clean, straight forward is best, but leave door open for the future when it might be a better fit.

    Jimmeettee
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  • Profile picture of the author MrFume
    Originally Posted by gingerninjas View Post

    I have a new client, who isn't really a good fit. I'm realising it's probably time to part ways.

    From time to time I do find myself 'breaking up' with clients for a number of reasons, usually it is because we are not a good fit, their business ideas aren't really aligned with mine and sometimes it is a personality clash.

    Usually, I just inform the client when they request for a new project to be started that we can't take on any new projects or we're not longer available and suggest other avenues they might want to pursue for their marketing support.

    I was wondering what steps marketers out there take when you realize a client is not a good fit and you want to let their down nicely without any confrontation.

    Looking forward to hearing your steps.
    Your business is entirely your own domain - you have the right to work with whomever you wish, and the right to not work with people who do not fit your ways of working. By being upfront and clear with folks you can let them know that you are no longer available to them simply by saying:
    'Dear client,
    regarding your recent request for X. We have taken on as many projects that we feel comfortable in servicing, our quest to deliver the best possible levels of service demand our diligence in this matter. We are not able to help you at this stage. Please consider X as a possible alternative to our services, and we wish you well with your future endeavors.
    Sincerely,
    Consultant'
    This is all you need to do, and all people can reasonably expect.
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    • Profile picture of the author gingerninjas
      Originally Posted by MrFume View Post

      Your business is entirely your own domain - you have the right to work with whomever you wish, and the right to not work with people who do not fit your ways of working. By being upfront and clear with folks you can let them know that you are no longer available to them simply by saying:
      'Dear client,
      regarding your recent request for X. We have taken on as many projects that we feel comfortable in servicing, our quest to deliver the best possible levels of service demand our diligence in this matter. We are not able to help you at this stage. Please consider X as a possible alternative to our services, and we wish you well with your future endeavors.
      Sincerely,
      Consultant'
      This is all you need to do, and all people can reasonably expect.
      Thanks for sharing that - it's a good problem to have and it's all about being honest and professional. I like how to the point your message is. No mucking about.
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