When It’s Time To Sever Ties With a Client

No one wants to lose business. We put our blood, sweat, and tears into building a thriving company and turning away business seems to be antithetical to that effort. But it’s not.

The customer is not always right. That age-old golden rule of business has never been the true test of how well you run your company. Not all clients are a good fit for all companies. Personality conflicts, unrealistic expectations or just plain meanness are all very good reasons that a business relationship may not work out.

It’s not always easy to know when it’s time to sever ties with a client but there are some telltale signs that it may be time to cut a customer loose.

  • When communication with them creates anxiety within yourself and your staff.You are responsible for maintaining a happy, healthy work environment. If you have a client who continuously wreaks havoc on your team, it may be time to direct them elsewhere.
  • When they are rude and disrespectful. This is a non-starter for me. If a customer can’t deal with me and my team in a way that is respectful, they have to go. Period. You have no obligation to be subjected to a toxic relationship.
  • Despite clear instructions to the contrary, they continue to operate outside of the scope of work outlined at the onset of the project. Managing expectations is key to a smooth relationship. It’s one thing to make changes to the scope of work. It is another to make changes and not expect to pay for it.
  • When they continuously question rates and services. We charge what we’re worth. If they are looking for a cheap solution, they should look somewhere else. We only want to work with clients who value what we bring to the table.

We had a client that despite many, many, many conversations refused to understand the concept of ‘no’. She had champagne taste on a beer budget but refused to understand that changes cost money and the more complicated something is to create, the more it costs to produce. I pride myself on being able to work with even the most difficult personalities but it became obvious that we weren’t the right firm for her.

For me, my piece of mind and that of my staff outweighed any potential profit. So, I politely suggested that she might be happier with a different company. There are ways to sever the relationship without it being contentious. Ultimately, that’s the goal.

A few tips for a smooth break up:

  • When it’s about working styles: Sometimes the breakdown in communication is less a function of conflicts in personality and more to do with working styles.  In this case, referring and introducing another firm is the easiest way to transition the client away from your company without creating undue animosity.
  • When it’s about personality: In the case where the client is just generally unbearable, it is obviously a more difficult problem to traverse.  But if you position yourself as a problem solver for their needs you can leave the relationship intact. By acknowledging that you are not a good fit for their project and that they might be better served with a different firm who could more effectively solve their problems, they are less likely to leave feeling rejected or angry.
  • When it’s about money: This is probably the easiest of the three situations to manage effectively. Never compromise on your worth. If the client is focused solely on the bottom line then the value that you provide as a company is lost. Suggest alternative options but be sure to emphasize the value you provide to your customers and leave the door open for them to return when that value is foremost in their minds.

When you follow your brand promise, a culture will emerge that aligns with your Brand and tells not only your clients but your staff as well what they can expect.

Remember, you are on the front lines. Your staff relies on you to protect them. If you want them to stick around, making certain that you maintain a culture of mutual understanding and respect is a pretty simple rule to follow.

3D Studios helps businesses grow their influence and their brands. As a boutique brand management agency, we begin with a thorough analysis of your needs and partner with you to develop and execute a marketing plan that will help you take your business to the next level. To learn more about how 3D Studios can help you, visit us at www.3Dstudios.net or call 914-304-4229.